My Husband Doesn’t Understand How His Affair Affected Me

by: katie lersch: I often hear from wives who are struggling to make their husbands understand just how devastating and far reaching his affair truly was. Many wives struggle with making their husband understand that moving on or getting over the affair is going to take far longer (and much more work) than the husband may have realized.

I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “my husband’s affair has been over for about three months.  It’s becoming obvious that he feels like my time to grieve and process this is up.  He wonders aloud when I’m going to recover and for how much longer I’m going to “dwell on” the affair or on the past.  He often makes comments like ‘the past is in the past.  Now it’s time to move on and start again.  We can’t life our lives always dwelling on the past or dredging up the pain from yesterday.’   It’s as if he thinks that I should just turn off my feelings or quiet my doubts because he’s tired of having to deal with my pain.  He doesn’t seem to understand how his affair affected me and continues to affect me.  It floored me.  It hurt me deeply.  It made me question my judgment, my marriage, and my ability to trust and to love.  I no longer feel like the same person in the same marriage.  I am trying to improve and move forward, but I certainly don’t like feeling rushed or being made to feel as if I’m not making progress fast enough.  I don’t think that any of this is fair.  How is it right that he gets to hurt me this way and then get impatient as I try to recover?  How can I make him understand how his affair affected me so that he has more patience during my recovery? Because every time I try to explain this to him, he says I’m dwelling on the past or holding onto the pain.”  I’ll address these concerns in the following article.

Actions That Probably Won’t Make Your Husband Understand How His Affair Affected You: Before I get into some things that might help with this situation, I’d like to go over some very common reactions and strategies, that, although understandable, often don’t work all that well.  Many wives will wonder if having their own affair will “force” their husband to see just how it feels to be cheated on.  So, many will consider cheating (or at least making their husband think that they are.)  I so rarely see this work or even not turn out to be a disaster. The husband is often so angry that he’s not in any position to feel any empathy for or try to understand the wife any better.  And the wife will often have even more baggage to carry and even more feelings and struggles to deal with.

Another thing to wives are often tempted to try in this situation is to attempt to communicate in a very dramatic way so that their husband has no choice but to listen or pay attention.  A wife will often tell me that she finally explodes and begins yelling things like: “do you have any idea how this feels?  Do you have any idea what it’s like to know that your spouse who was supposed to love, honor and cherish you slept with someone else?  Do you any idea what this does to your self esteem and your ability to trust?”  Although these are all valid questions which often might cause your husband to slow down and think, we often say them in such a way that he feels defensive rather than sympathetic.

Understand Why Your Husband Probably Doesn’t Completely Want To Know Or Understand Just How Deeply His Affair Affected You: Here’s something else I’d like for you to consider.  Even if your husband doesn’t realize this,  he often has a vested interested in downplaying just how devastating his affair has been to you.  He usually already feels a lot of guilt and remorse about his actions.  And he really wants to believe that you and will recover because this helps to alleviate some of his guilt.

So if he has to face the difficult truth that you are still hurting, still struggling, and not yet recovered from actions that he set into motion, then he still has to feel those negative feelings of guilt, shame and remorse all over again.  Often, the husband who cheated wants to feel better and wants to recover in the same way that his wife does.  But part of his being able to feel better about himself means that you feel better too.  So he’s often reluctant to admit or acknowledge when this isn’t happening.  But you can sometimes use this knowledge to your advantage.

Tips On How To Make Your Husband Understand The Multiple Ways That His Affair Has Affected You: I understand that you are extremely motivated to get your husband to understand the way that you feel and why you’re struggling.  But  you are more likely to get the result that you want if you can deliver the message with calm, measured words so that it’s clear that you’re not trying to hurt him, but are merely trying to make him understand you better.

So, at time when emotions aren’t boiling over and you are as calm as is possible, you might consider saying (or writing) something like:  “I know that both of us just want to feel better and want to move on.  I want that too.  But I want for you to understand why I’m struggling because of how deeply this affair has affected me.  I’m not telling you this to make you feel worse or continue to pin point blame.  My intention is for you to understand what I’m feeling so that hopefully you can help me to move forward so that we can both feel some relief eventually. But please understand that your affair has made me reluctant to trust you and my own perceptions.  I do want to move on and to trust again, but this is a struggle for me because when I did those things before, I was betrayed.  And I’m reluctant to offer my trust again because I never want to feel this type of pain again in the future.  This has made my doubt myself, my own desirability, and our ability to put our marriage first before we make decisions that might destroy it.  I’m not telling you this to paint a negative picture or to insinuate that we can’t or will never recover.  I just want for you to know how and why I’m struggling so that you will have patience with me and help me to move past this.  I’m asking you to imagine that it was you who were the one who was betrayed before you’re critical of my progress or lose your patience with me.”

I know that making him understand you and your struggles is difficult.  But sometimes, you just have to keep moving forward while continuing to have patience with yourself and demanding that you be given the time and space to heal.  Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, after a long struggle, I did eventually truly get over the affair. It didn’t happen overnight, but I know 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/

I Can’t Stand The Pity From My Friends After My Husband’s Affair

By: Katie Lerch:  One of the worst things about the time period after learning about an affair is the fact that the process can change the way that you see yourself.  If this isn’t bad enough, you can perceive that it can also change the way that others see you.  A wife might perceive that well-meaning friends and family members now make judgements about herself and her marriage.  For example, she might say: “I really regret that some of my friends know about my husband’s affair.  If I had a choice, they wouldn’t know and I would not have told them.  Unfortunately though, I was with them on a weekend getaway when I started to suspect my husband of cheating while I was gone.  So they have been with me during every step of this process.  I leaned on them too much in the beginning and I shared too much.  I was struggling a lot during those early weeks and I cried on everyone’s shoulder and went on and on about how unfair the situation was and how things would never be the same again.  They supported me during that time and words can not express how much I appreciate it.  I love them all.  At the same time, things have started to get better for me.  My husband and I are doing better, but more than that, I am doing better on a personal level.  I’ve started running again.  I’m taking a class that I’m excited about.  I’m starting to like life again.  But when I am with these particular group of friends, they bring me down because they want to harp on the affair.  And they still treat me as though I am breakable and pathetic.  We had lunch the other day and one actually gave me a sad face when she talked about my husband and asked about my marriage.  When I try to reassure them that things are better, they give me a look as though they think that I am just trying to save face.  It’s getting to the point where I almost can not stand to be around them.  I almost can not stand their pity anymore.”

I agree that people’s pity can almost feel condescending at times.  I used to feel like some of my friends were really smug about their stable marriages when I was going through this myself.  Honestly, it used to turn my stomach, but I was probably not thinking rationally.  Looking back now, I believe that some were smug and some were not.  That was a really hard time for me and I probably projected some of my own frustrations onto some of my friends, who truly cared about me, even if they didn’t know the best way to support me at the time.

Admittedly, I have a bit of hindsight behind me, but looking back, I can say that if someone is willing to support you in the hard times, it’s worth it to try to maintain that friendship, even if you have to set new boundaries.  I’d hate to see you start to avoid these ladies (who sound like decent, supportive people) when perhaps you could clear the air and start over.

The next time you are together and you start to get the “pity” vibe, you might try: “listen, I need to say something and I hope that you take this how I intend it.  I am so grateful of all of your support.  But I am moving on.  I want to leave that behind.  I don’t want or need for anyone to feel sorry for me.  I’m in a good place.  I am excited about life moving forward – wherever it may lead.  I want to look forward and not backward. So from now on, I’m going to ask that we talk about issues that look forward in a positive way.  I don’t want to dwell on the painful past.  I don’t want to feel like I’m always being pitied or that you’re constantly having to worry about me, although I’m touched at how much you care.  So can we please change the tone and be nothing but upbeat moving forward?”

Hopefully, they will easily get the message.  They likely know you very well and can read between the lines as to what you are trying to get across.  I can say from experience, though, that sometimes people do forget your request and you will have to change the subject at times and remind them not to “go there.”  But honestly, the more that they see you happy, thriving, and coping, the less likely they will be to continue on with the pity.  When you make it clear that you don’t need or want it, then hopefully they will follow your lead and just drop it.  No matter if it is coming from a place of love and concern, it does definitely get old – feeling as you are living under a dark cloud of pity all of the time. Statistically speaking, though, one of them will likely have an issue come up in the future where you can return the favor and support THEM – since you will hopefully have long moved on.

I regretted confiding in a few people after my own husband’s affair.  There were some that seemed to love misery and drama.  Long after I had moved on, they still wanted to talk about it.  For the most part, I was able to redirect them by being frank, although I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I did move on from a few friendships because of this. Luckily, these were not particularly close friendships to begin with.  I looked at this as part of the recovery process.  Defining what I wanted and needed was really healthy and empowering for me,  although it was difficult at the time. There’s more  to read on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com.

Does The No Contact Rule Work After An Affair? If So, How?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes get correspondence asking me about the “no contact rule” after a spouse cheats or has an affair.  People want to know if, and how, it works.  It’s important to note that often, people are talking about two different things when they discuss no contact.

No Contact As It Relates To The Person Who Cheated: First, they could be talking about no contact as it relates to the other person in the affair.  So from a husband who cheated, you might hear: “my wife is saying that I must have absolutely no contact with the other woman.  But we have become legitimate friends.  It does not seem realistic to think that I’m expected to just act as if she never existed.  What if she calls me?  Am I supposed to just slam the door in her face.”

In this case, no contact means exactly what it says. And yes, you are expected to carry it out to the letter.  Think about it this way.  If it were your wife who had done the cheating, would you want her to cut off any and all contact with the other man?  Of course you would.  Would you want her to try to sneak in some contact or to try to justify “keeping in touch” to herself while hiding the same from you?  Of course you wouldn’t.

When your spouse cheats on you and is asking you not to divorce him, then you want to know that he is worth it.  And in order for this to be so, they have to be trustworthy.  Still sneaking around to contact the other person (even when you are not technically still cheating) is not being trustworthy.  It is not putting your spouse first.  It is not having integrity.  And you need all three things to successfully be rehabilitated.

So yes, in this case, there is really no confusion or sleight of hand.  It means just what it says – that you make a clean break, that you communicate (very clearly and quickly) that it is over, and that you avoid interaction after that.  Your priority and your focus is on your marriage now.  You owe that to yourself, to your marriage, and to your spouse.  There is no room for anyone else.

No Contact As It Relates To The Faithful Spouse: The other way that people discuss no contact is when a couple (or a faithful spouse) decides that they are not going to communicate with their spouse for a while because of the high emotions associated with the affair. The thought process is that this break gives both people a chance to calm down and allows the cheating spouse to think while he can’t reach out to the faithful spouse.

Along those lines, someone might ask: “my mother told me that I should kick my cheating husband out of the house.  I reluctantly did that because quite honestly, it was painful to have him around.  My mother also indicated that I should not let him call or come by.  She said that I should let my silence speak for me and that this will make my husband even sorrier than he already is.  I understand the thinking behind this, but I feel that this tactic is a little cruel, especially since my husband is going to want access to his children.  My kids are not going to understand why they can’t see their father.  How far do you take no contact and does it work?”

How far you take it (and whether you want to participate in it) is up to you.  Some people have some success, but many people find that there are some problems with it.  For one thing, it’s common to wonder if he is continuing to cheat when you are not interacting with him. It’s also common for both people to assume the worst about the other – since they can’t possibly know what is going on without being in touch.

“No contact” seems to breed mistrust at a time when you might be trying to rebuild the trust. A couple can also drift further and further apart this way.  But I do see the point about allowing things to calm down, which is why I think a compromise might be in order.

Considering A Compromise: If you think that this is a viable option, why not limit the contact, but not negate it all together?  Perhaps he may call the kids at set times and see them once a week.  At that time, the two of you could touch base and talk if that feels comfortable to you.

If things go well, you could very slowly increase the contact if it feels right to do so.  But I think not having any contact when you share kids might be a bit drastic and quite difficult to carry out.

As you probably can tell, when “no contact” means that the affair is truly over, I am very clear on the fact that this should happen – with no excuses. If the affair is over, then it should be totally over with no interaction.  It’s not that hard to understand.  You must completely end it and then not communicate afterward.

As far as “no contact” between the spouses goes, I think that this one has shades of grey and is harder to carry out, although perhaps a less drastic version of it may work.

My husband and I did live apart for a short time after his affair.  But because of our children and because I wanted to know what he was up to, there was definitely limited and well-defined contact. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Do Husbands Feel After They Tell Their Wife About Their Affair? Can You Trust Their Reaction?

By: Katie Lersch:  I often have people ask me how men feel when they are caught cheating.  And this is usually the way that it happens – that they are “caught” because the wife gets suspicious and she begins to snoop a little and finds evidence of infidelity.

Occasionally though, a spouse will show some courage and integrity and they will confess everything and come clean before the wife has any inkling or proof that something is wrong.  Many of these confessions bring about a lot of tears and apologies.  It can be hard for the faithful spouse to process this at the time of the confession. Because you’re so shocked and hurt by what he is saying, that, at the time, you can’t even think about his tears. It usually is not until later that you start to remember his sad reaction and ask yourself if it was real or just an act.

A wife might ask: “how does a man really feel when he tells his wife everything about the cheating?  Because quite frankly, my husband made a fool of himself.  He is a pretty stoic person in general, but when he told me he had been cheating, he could barely get out the words.  He was crying and carrying on and his nose was running uncontrollably.  I was almost embarrassed for him. We’ve gone through hard times before but I’ve never seen him act that way.  He could barely assure me that the affair was over because he kept choking on his words and sobbing. I was telling a friend of mine about this and she said that it was all an act.  She said that men just act sad and guilty so that we will feel sorry for them.  But she said that if there were any real guilt, he would not have cheated in the first place.  Is she right?”

At the risk of sounding like I am defending husbands who cheat (and I promise that I am not,) I don’t think that your friend is right for every situation.  It varies from marriage to marriage or from man to man, at least in my opinion.  Are there some husbands who will put on a fake display in order to gain your sympathy and in the hopes that you won’t be too hard on them?  Of course there are.  Without any doubt.

But I do hear from a good deal of men who ask about the right way to tell their wife about the affair and I can tell you that they seem incredibly sad, sorry, guilty, and filled with anxiety.  And they wouldn’t have any need to put on any sort of display for me because I do not know them or their wives.

Horrific Guilt And Shame:  I find that many men say they want to confess not only because they know that it is the right thing to do and that they want to save their marriage, but because they just can not take the guilt any more.  They would rather own up to their actions and take the consequences than to not be able to look in the mirror or sleep at night because of the guilt.

Also, you might be seeing some shame in those tears.  Many men are deeply ashamed of themselves and fully aware that this is a mistake like no other that is going to inflict a very special type of pain that is extremely hard to erase.

He May Hope That Honesty Might Matter To You:  Knowing the consequences of telling the truth, some cheating husbands go forward and confess anyway.  Why?  Many of them say that they now realize they want their marriage, but they know that this isn’t going to be possible with this big lie just waiting to be discovered. So they want to start out with a clean slate and a clear conscience in the hopes that their being honest will matter to you and will count for something.

With Some Effort, You Might Be Able To Feel A Taste Of What He Is Feeling Right Now: It may help to recall a time when you made a mistake that you knew was going to be a disaster and you had to confess it.   We’ve all done something like this – whether it is betraying a friend, messing up horribly in our jobs and having to confess our costly mistake, or confessing about wrongdoing in some other aspect of our lives.  Many of us will try to find another way because we know the confession is going to hurt.  But we know it is the right thing to do and so we do it, but it is painful.

I can remember several examples of this from telling my mother that I snuck out of the house and wrecked her car from confessing to a boss that I mixed up important documents that were going out to clients and would soon be discovered.

In every instance, I cried.  I blubbered.  I was ashamed and embarrassed and exposed.  We have all had these instances in our lives.  We can all remember something like this.  Now multiply that feeling.  Because the description that I gave above is very similar to what cheating husbands recount.  And he knows that his mistake is like no other.  He knows there is no erasing it and he knows it was made toward the most important relationship in his life.

To be fair, I am not a man who has cheated.  So I have never felt this exact thing myself.  But I do think that I have a good idea.  I think that we all have a good idea.  Because we have all had to confess embarrassing and shameful things we have done that we wish we could take back but now have to take responsibility for.  And this feels awful.  I hope that this has given you some insight into how your husband might have felt.

Frankly, shortly after I found out about my husband’s affair, I didn’t care how badly he felt.  I hoped he felt awful and ashamed.  But in time, I learned that in order for us to move on, we were both going to have to heal and try to move past the bad feelings.  There’s more about that on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

I Hate The Other Woman So Much That It Is Affecting My Every Day Life And My Family

By: Katie Lersch:  It would be ideal if the other woman in the affair would just fade into the wood work and allow you to move on with your life.  It would be wonderful if she would be gracious enough to leave you and your husband alone so that you can try to clean up the mess that she contributed to.  However, this isn’t always what happens. Sometimes, she seems to love to rub your nose in it.  Or she can’t seem to leave your husband alone, even when he makes it very clear that this is exactly what he wants.

Understandably, this can lead to some very harsh feelings on the part of the wife.  Wives who have never hated another human being can feel very strong hatred for the other woman.  You might hear a comment like: “I am a pretty laid back person.  My job requires for me to be very diplomatic and to get along with many different types of people. In my day to day life, I roll with the punches and am very personable and accepting.  However, when it comes to the other woman, I just can’t use my regular people skills.  I feel deep-seated hatred toward her.  And it’s totally eating me alive.  Even before I found out about the affair, she was posting photos of my husband and herself on her Facebook page.  That is how I found out.   My husband asked her to take down the pictures so that our kids will not see them.  In response, she put up tons more.  She puts up new photos everyday.  In fact, this made my husband angry with her – so much so that I doubt that he will ever want to have anything to do with her again.  But despite his fury at her, she keeps right on texting and calling him.  When he doesn’t respond to her, she will text me and say that I need to tell my husband to answer his phone.  She is so unbelievably forward and aggressive.  I can’t imagine what my husband saw in her and it makes me think less of him, that he would be attracted to someone like this.  I have to deal with her on a daily basis.  She seems to refuse to go away.  I have blocked looking at her on Facebook and I have changed our numbers and contact information.  This seems to have helped.  But I am still seething.  I feel like my anger is taking over.  I have never hated anyone.  But I swear my hatred toward her is so strong.  And I don’t know how to tackle it.”

I understand what you are feeling.  I had similar feelings.  And those feelings really bothered me and were a struggle. But when someone wants to come and take something that is valuable to you and then refuses to give up, even when it’s clearly over, that is frustrating. Then when she acts in a way that can be hurtful to your children – who are truly innocent in this – well, that’s just a whole different level of mean.  I completely support you in doing whatever you need to do in order to block her access to you.  This is often the best thing that you can do because she is searching for a pay off and a reaction.  When things go silent and when she can’t get a reaction, she’s more likely to stop.

Sometimes, she stops – but then you are still churning with hatred and ruminating.  This cycle is only hurting you, the innocent party.  I know that you probably know this intellectually, but it’s hard to stop thinking about someone who has turned your world upside down.  Still, its important that you start trying.  Because every time you allow thoughts of her to bring you down or to make you angry, you allow her to injure you once again.  You don’t deserve this.

I have come to believe that the best revenge that you can get on her is to have a happy life.  When someone is this mean and spiteful, then you know that nothing would make her happier than to know that she’s gotten under your skin and made you unhappy.  So refuse to allow her to do this any longer.  You’ve already started this by blocking her access, but now you have to take it a step further and work on rebuilding your life.  It sounds as if you want to save your marriage, so know that there is likely nothing that would make her more miserable than to know that in five, ten, or twenty years down the road, your husband and you will have moved on.  She obviously doesn’t want to be forgotten or ignored, which is why that should be precisely your goal. The best revenge (and the best way to move past the hate) is to carry on with your life as though she were just a blip on the screen.  So, start to move past her.  She never belonged in your life.  Don’t allow her to take up residence there now.

I don’t think about the other woman much anymore.  But I guess that if I did, I’ve have to say that I’ve mostly gotten my revenge because for the most part, I am happy and my life is normal again.  I have my family.  My kids have their father.  And I have the life and the marriage that I want.   This feels much better than dealing with the hate. There’s more 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

Why Do Some Marriages Get Over An Affair More Quickly Than Others?

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s normal to analyze your marriage after your spouse has an affair.  We scrutinize it to determine what went wrong. And we go over it with a fine tooth comb to figure out if recovery is possible.  To that end, we often end up comparing our marriage to the marriages of our parents, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances.  Most of us know at least a few couples who have dealt with infidelity.  So it’s natural to look to those marriages and to make comparisons. Unfortunately though, as an outsider looking in, it can sometimes appear that those marriages are recovering more efficiently than our own, which can lead us to wonder why some marriages are able to move on more quickly after infidelity.

Someone might say: “I actually have a handful of friends who have had marriages nearly ruined by a husband’s affair.  A few of those friends got an immediate divorce because they did not want to deal with a cheating husband and they just could not imagine ever getting over it.  One more eventually divorced, but actually hung on for a year and a half trying to make it work.  Another couple had a few rough months, but eventually had an ever better marriage than before.  I am very close to this couple and to me, they actually seem blissfully happy now.  The wife believes that life is too short to hold onto anger and she seems able to just let it go.  The husband is remorseful and could not be more devoted to her.  They seemed to have been able to move on with very few bumps in the road.  Meanwhile, my husband and I struggle horribly.  We have a few good days every now and then.  But I just can’t seem to get control over my anger and my paranoia.  I am constantly worried that my husband will cheat again.  Meanwhile, my husband resents my constant looking over his shoulder.  It seems like we are angry and anxious a lot of the time.  That said, I do believe that we are both trying and that we both genuinely want for things to work out.  But we just don’t seem to be one of those couples who are going to recover quickly.  What differentiates the couples who are able to move on in a timely fashion and those who are not?”

All couples and circumstances are different.  And it’s really never a good idea to compare yourself to someone else.  Appearances can be deceiving and you can’t ever really walk in someone else’s shoes. That said, I do see some attributes that seem to be common to couples who tend to move on quickly.  I will list them below.  But I also want to stress that just because you think that you aren’t one of these couples, that doesn’t mean that you can not turn things around.  You absolutely can.  The fact that you are able to analyze the situation tells me that you have plenty of motivation to make necessary changes.  But you should never rush yourself.  This is a process. It’s not instantaneous.  And sometimes, if you rush, you leave yourself vulnerable later.  Issues that were never resolved have a way of coming back to bite you later.

There Is Some External Motivation To Work Things Out Quickly And Completely:  I am very open about the fact that if I had not been motivated by my kids early on, I might not have given my husband another chance.  I am a child of divorce and I was very motivated that my children would never have to go through what I went through.  At the same time, I also lived in a home with parents who fought all of the time (before the divorce,) so I knew that living in a volatile home wasn’t what I wanted either.  Because of this, I was very motivated to have not just a marriage that was barely hanging on, but a healthy marriage that would set a good example for my kids. This inspired me to work harder and to open myself up more than I might otherwise have.  Even if you don’t have kids, try to find some motivation. Even if it’s just that you believe that marriage should be forever or if you don’t want to just hand over the marriage you’ve worked so hard for, find something to motivate you to keep moving forward.

Both Spouse’s Have An Attitude Of Openness And Vulnerability: In my experience, one of the hardest things to eventually do after an affair is to trust and to allow yourself to be vulnerable again.  It’s very hard to not always have suspicions and doubts.  But when you experience constant doubt, especially over the long term, you potentially damage your marriage.  I’ve observed that couples who make it and who make it quickly really make a conscious effort to allow their spouse to regain the trust once he or she has earned it back.  I’m not saying that you have to have blind faith in your spouse the next day after an affair. That’s very unrealistic.  But if over time your husband gives you no reason to doubt him and he does what he’s promised, then I think you want to give him the benefit of the doubt for the sake of your marriage.  Believe me, I know that it’s easy to give in to doubt.  But if you become overly paranoid, you see problems where none actually exist and this damages your marriage as much as an affair.

A Willingness To Get Help If Needed:  Recovery from an affair is not easy.  And very few of us are infidelity experts.  Most of us try very hard, but we don’t always have the tools that we need to get over every hump. There is no shame in seeking help.  In fact, many couples who recover efficiently get very good help.  I know that some don’t like the idea of going to counseling, but know that there are very good self help options.  This is much better than just suffering when you are just sort of faltering or have hit a road block.

I learned some of these lessons the hard way.  But I eventually gave myself permission to do whatever was necessary to get my life back.  This included getting help, restoring my confidence, and learning new ways to do things.  There’s more about this at http://surviving-the-affair.com.

What Are Good Questions To Ask My Husband After His Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from women who are just beginning to deal with the aftermath of a husband’s affair. They are often trying to formulate the most appropriate questions that are going to help them determine why their husband cheated, what is the state of their marriage today, and what are the chances that he will cheat again. But many women really don’t know which questions are most likely to get them the answers that they are really looking for.

I recently heard from a wife who said in part: “I found out two weeks ago that my husband had a five week affair. He claims that it is over. And since he is with me during all hours when he is not working, I tend to believe that he isn’t seeing her anymore. But what is less clear is why he did this, what this means for our marriage, and how he really feels about me. I am constantly worrying about how our marriage is going to recover to the point where I can trust him again. In order for me to answer all of these questions, I feel like I need free reign in asking him what I need to know. But when I try to ask him even basic questions, he seems to lose his patience. It’s become clear to me that I have to limit my questions to those things I really want and need to know. So which things are most important for me to ask, especially right now?”

I will try to address this in the following article. But keep in mind that every one is an individual. You may have some questions that feel very important to you to which you need immediate answers. Know that this is valid. It’s not for me to say what should be important to you. However, with that said, there are some questions that seem to be universally important. I will suggest them below.

Can You Pinpoint What Things May Have Lead To The Affair?: This question is very important because you will often find that when you are trying to recover from the affair, restoring the trust is a huge issue. You may well spend a lot of time and emotional energy worrying that he is going to cheat again and, as the result, you will have to go through this whole painful thing all over again.

That’s why it’s very important to understand (at least as best as you can) what may have contributed to his behavior. For example, if he felt like you didn’t care enough to really understand or pay attention to him, then you may hear alarm bells in the future if he exhibits behavior that indicates he’s feeling isolated or misunderstood. Or, if you come to believe that he cheated because he could not resist temptation (despite his love for you) then you’ll want to be extra careful to ensure that he’s not in this type of tempting situation in the future.

How Did You Carry Out Your Cheating?: Your husband may be very reluctant to answer this question. But what you are trying to get at here is what methods he used to deceive you. Did he have a secret email account? Did he have a dummy cell phone only for the other woman’s use? Did he have his fiends lie to you? Did he tell you he was engaging in a fake hobby like working out while he was seeing the other person? You need to know this because if he were to cheat again, this information would help to tell you that something is going on much earlier in the process. In short, you need to know what patterns and behaviors to look for. More than that, the absence of the same can give you confidence that he is being faithful in the future as you rebuild.

What Do You Want To Happen With Our Marriage? Are You Really Committed To Me? This question is important because it will tell you if your marriage is worth fighting for. Also, if he is fully committed to you and the marriage, he is going to be much more willing to do whatever he needs to do to be fully rehabilitated so that your marriage not only survives, it thrives. I believe that you can save your marriage when your husband has questions or doubts about your marriage, but it is much more difficult, although certainly not impossible.

What Are You Going To Do To Rehabilitate Our Marriage And Restore My Trust? I actually think that his is the most important question of all. The biggest problem that I see for many couples after the affair is that they are both waiting for the other person to take charge. And, when this doesn’t happen, they sort of flounder along and wonder why things aren’t getting better. Then they start to wonder if things aren’t getting better because their marriage is doomed, or the affair damaged it too much, or their spouse doesn’t care enough to take the initiative. That’s why I strongly suggest that you ask your spouse to outline his plan. If he doesn’t have one, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you. But it doesn’t negate the fact that having a plan will make your recovery easier. So if he hasn’t defined a plan, ask him if you can work together to decide what you both need and want in order to move forward. As awkward as this conversation can be, it is so much better than floundering.

How Do You Feel About Me Today? How Do You Envision Yourself Feeling About Me In Six Months? The question that most wives will ask is “do you still love me after your affair?” Many husbands still do. But this really is a loaded question. Because when the husband says that yes, he loves her, the wife will immediately respond with something like: “well, if you love me so much, then why did you cheat on me?” It’s actually better to ask him how feels about you on this day. Because this day is what matters the most. Obviously, days in the recent past were not the best for either of you, so let’s focus on today. Let’s see how he feels right now. And, if he isn’t sure about that answer, then ask him what he might envision feeling six months from now. Because after an affair, the future can be more important than today. People rarely have the best of times in the aftermath of an affair. But that’s doesn’t mean that there aren’t better days ahead.

I have to admit that I bombarded my husband with questions after his affair. And he quickly lost patience. Eventually I learned how to ask the right questions at the right time and this made quite a difference in our ability to save our marriage. If it helps you can read that very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Husband Doesn’t Want To Have Sex With Me After He Has Ended His Affair. Why?

By: Katie Lersch: Sex after an affair is one of the most common topics that is brought up by people who read my blog.   There can be a lot of awkwardness, confusion, and questions about resuming your sex life after one spouse has been unfaithful.  And, there’s a lot at stake here because when sex goes wrong after infidelity, often one or both people read a lot into this and become very discouraged.

I heard from a wife who said: “my husband had a 3 month affair a couple of months ago.  When I found out, I gave him a choice.  End it immediately and do whatever I needed to save our marriage or keep it up and lose me.  He said that he didn’t want to lose our family so he broke it off.  However, although I can tell that he’s trying to work on our marriage, he doesn’t want to have sex with me.  He doesn’t come right out and say this but he’s made no sexual advances toward me since I found out about the affair.  And when I make advances toward him, he rebuffs me or tells me that it’s ‘too soon.’  This hurts me deeply because I worry that he doesn’t find me desirable or that I no longer turn him on.  I also worry that he doesn’t want me because he’s still thinking about her.  Why would a husband not want to have sex with his wife after an affair?”  There are actually many possible reasons for this, which I will discuss below.

He May Not Want To Have Sex Because He’s Worried That It Will Be Awkward:  Sometimes, men back off of having sex because they worry that when you are in the act, you are going to be thinking about or worrying about the other woman.  They worry that you will get upset during this and will be emotionally hurt.  Also, they often intuitively know that if sex doesn’t go well, this might make one or both of you worry that the spark is gone or that the affair has damaged your marriage and your chemistry so much, that it might not ever recover.

He Might Worry That You Will Be Turned Off Or Upset During The Act:  Some men worry that once sex actually takes place, you will become upset or overwhelmed.  It’s one thing to kiss and cuddle, it’s quite another when you are actually having intercourse after infidelity.  Sometimes, it is quite emotional and your husband might be trying to avoid this until you have healed or recovered more.

His Guilt May Be Telling Him That He Doesn’t Deserve It: Another possibility is that your husband feels very guilty and feels as if he doesn’t deserve your willingness to have sex with him.  He may feel as if he needs to earn back your trust before he even thinks about deserving to be intimate with you again.

His Emotions May Be All Over The Place:  There’s an assumption that men are willing to have sex anywhere and anytime no matter what the circumstances.  There is also a perception that while a woman needs an emotional connection or to feel emotionally healthy before she can have sex, a man doesn’t need any emotional connection whatsoever.  This isn’t the case for all men.  Some have issues being intimate when they are struggling emotionally.  And, believe it or not, men can be emotionally torn after an affair.  They can have some confusion and a large sense of regret. And this can bring about emotions that just make sex at that time feel wrong.

He May Be Posturing:  I’ll mention one final possibility, although this one is less common.  Sometimes, his holding off on having sex is part of a strategy.  Sometimes, he knows that you have the power in the marriage right now because of his affair.  And sometimes, he will try to regain some of this power by holding off sexually.  He figures if he can make you pursue him, he won’t have as much making up to do. And you have to decide if you’re going to want to allow him to do this.

How To Respond When He Doesn’t Want To Have Sex After Infidelity:  I know that this is probably not what you want to hear.  But honestly, I feel that it is best not to push if you are encountering resistance. There is plenty of time to resume your sex life and you are so much better off waiting until things are right between you.  I believe that it’s important for the sex to be good after the affair.  And it probably won’t be very good if one or both of you aren’t sure or feel uncomfortable.

So the next time that he resists, you may want to say something like: “I can see that you’re not completely comfortable.  I think that it’s better for us to wait and make sure that we are both ready rather than to push it.  I am confident that we will both know when the time is right.  And I’m also confident it will be worth the wait.”  Then, just get on with your healing.  Many men will see you backing up and then they will start pursuing you, at which point you’ll need to make another decision about how best to proceed.

I know that this is difficult.  But I strongly advocate waiting until you know, without any doubt whatsoever, that the time is right.  You don’t want to have sexual issues in addition to the infidelity issues.  A good sex life can help with the healing.  And an awkward one can delay your progress.  I have to admit that I held off for a while after my husband’s affair.  It just felt necessary and, since we did save our marriage and are happy today, I feel that it was the right call.  If it helps, you can read about my recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Do I Know That My Husband Is Sincere In Wanting To Save Our Marriage After His Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from wives who admit that their husband is seemingly doing and saying the right things after his affair. Even so, the wives often have a nagging little feeling that they just can’t shake which is asking them if their husband is really sincere about everything that he says. Often, they really want to believe that they can trust and believe in him. But, despite this, they can’t help but have their doubts.

I recently heard from a wife who said: “I caught my husband cheating on me last month. Turns out, the affair had been going on for about three weeks. He immediately apologized and begged for my forgiveness. Not only did he agree to go to counseling, but he found the counselor and made the appointment himself. He’s doing and saying all the right things. He’s constantly telling me how sorry he is and how he’s going to make this all up to me if I will just give him the chance. But, I can’t put my finger on what is bothering me because in the back of my mind, I can’t help wondering if he is really and truly sincere. It’s almost too perfect and too rehearsed. Sometimes, despite everything that he is telling me, I will watch him when he isn’t aware that I am looking. And I will see this sort of faraway look on this face which I suspect means he’s thinking of her. I almost feel like he’s trying to make me believe in him so I will let my guard down and he can then see her again behind me back. I suppose my question is how do I know that he is really sincere when he’s says he’s sorry, that he’ll never cheat again, and that he wants to save our marriage? How do I know that he isn’t just telling me what I want to hear so that he will have the all clear to do what he wants to do on the sly?” I’ll try to answer these questions in the following article.

Take A Look And See If His Actions Match His Words: Sometimes, wives don’t understand why they have that nagging little feeling that makes them doubt their husband’s sincerity until they begin to put 2 and 2 together. In other words, are his claims and his actions in alignment? For example, is he telling you that you are the love of his life and that he would do anything for you but then when you are together, he’s not showing you the physical affection that would back this up? Or, is he insisting that you can trust him only to be showing up late sometimes or contradicting himself on little things which might add up to big things? Is he telling you that he’s so deeply sorry for cheating but then getting defensive or even dismissive when you ask him questions about the affair?

All of these things will give you little clues that what he’s saying and how he really feels might be two different things. Now, sometimes a man can be very sincere in his words but he may not know the best way to carry out intentions in actions. Men can be very uncomfortable and awkward when it comes to thinks like discussing their feelings and motivations or agreeing to counseling. A lack of these things do not necessarily mean that he’s not sincere or that he doesn’t love you. But, if you are seeing more than a few of this contradictions, then it may be time to pay attention.

Signs Of A Man Who Is Sincere About Saving His Marriage After He Had An Affair: It goes without saying that all men are different. But there are often tell tale signs they will give off when they really are sincere about saving your marriage. One of the first things to look for is their agreeing to some type of counseling, help, or at least some resources to make them understand why they acted as they did and what they can do to keep it from happening again. I am being very honest when I tell you that this process can be awkward, embarrassing, and painful. It’s just not a lot of fun to examine your every thought and motivation, especially when you are the one who messed up. But a man who truly wants to save his marriage is often willing to do this because he knows that it is likely to help him get what he wants – which is his wife and his marriage back.

Also, a man who is sincerely sorry and motivated to save his marriage will often be very accountable. He fully realizes that his situation is the direct result of his own actions and no one else’s. You’ll sometimes have to pay particular attention to the man who says “yes, I cheated and I’m sorry but you were never there for me” Or “you didn’t give me enough attention or affection.” The reason why these phrases are so dangerous is because they show that he almost feels justified in his actions. So that the next time he feels unappreciated or abandoned, you have to wonder if he will feel justified in cheating again. This isn’t to say that if you are seeing this in your husband that he can’t be rehabilitated or made to understand the mistake in this type of thinking. But, this is a warning sign.

Another thing that you want to look for is patience and lack of defensiveness. A man who knows that the affair was all his fault is going to be willing to face up to your disappointment and anger rather than making you out to be the bad guy or implying that your reaction or feelings are not warranted. That’s not to say that he’s going to enjoy your angry words and actions, but he’s not going to turn them back on you as if you are at fault because of his belief and knowledge that he is the one at fault.

It Can Be Difficult To Identify Sincerity In The Early Stages Of Recovery: I would like to make one final point. Often, it is your husband’s long term actions that are going to be the best indicator of his sincerity. Men can and will say anything after the affair is first discovered when everything is fresh. But eventually, dealing with these issues get very old when you are not 100 percent committed to your wife and your marriage. And if a man really wants to be with the other woman, he will usually only hold out so long before his true colors begin to come out.

On the other hand, a man who sincerely wants to save his marriage is going to consistently show you the same behaviors over the long term because he is simply telling you the truth. So there is no reason for you to see any changes because his intentions and his message are always the same.

It took me a while to believe in my own husband’s sincerity after his affair. But over time, I just noticed a consistency in what he said and what he did. He hung in there over the long haul and, at the end of the day, it mattered. If it helps, you can read that very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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