When Your Spouse Won’t Forgive Your Infidelity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can An Affair Stay Secret Forever?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staying Together After Infidelity: When Does It Get Easier?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Husband Chose Me Over The Other Woman. So Why Don’t I Feel Like I’ve Won?

by: katie lersch:  I often hear from wives whose main goal for the short term is getting their husband away from the woman that he is cheating or having an affair with. Many give their husband’s ultimatums and flat out tell him that he has to make a choice between his wife and the other woman because he can’t have them both.  Some husbands make this decision very quickly and others can’t seem to decide.  Some tell their wives that he has chosen her only to be caught with the other woman once again.

Many wives hope that once their husband decides to choose them over the other woman, the path to healing and saving the marriage will be immediate. But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.  I recently heard from a wife who was confused as to why this felt like a hollow victory.  She said, in part: “when I found out about my husband’s affair, I suspected that he would immediately break it off with the other woman, but that didn’t happen.  Instead, he said that although he loved me and didn’t want to end our marriage, he wasn’t sure who or what he wanted.  I told him he had to choose.  Well, this decision seemed to take a very long time. He went back and forth and even moved out for a while.  Just recently, he called and told me that he chose me and our marriage and asked if he could return home.  I allowed him to do this because I was initially ecstatic that he chose me and assumed that this would be over and we could move on.  However, now that he’s home, it’s clear that this is almost a hollow victory.  It’s pretty obvious that he’s not happy and neither am I.  He’s always just sulking around the house and I feel a lot of pent up resentment.  I thought his making a choice would make things better.  And, although I’m confident that the other woman is out of our lives and that he’ll make good on his promise not to see or contact her, it feels like she’s still here in the middle of us and our marriage.  She may not be with him anymore, but it seems that she’s still on his mind or in his heart because he’s clearly not fully present here.  This just isn’t what I expected.  I thought I would be thrilled that I finally won and got him back, but it almost feels like I’ve still lost him anyway.  What can I do to make this right so that we can get on track with our marriage?”

The wife’s sentiments are so common.  It’s not unusual to become so fixated on getting our husbands away from the other woman.  We begin to think that once we get him to chose us, our work is going to be done.  Once he chooses us, we’ll have her out of our lives once and for all and this nightmare will be over.  But, what we often don’t realize is that even once she’s physically gone, her presence can be felt for a long time afterward until we deliberately place the healing into motion.

In My Opinion, True Victory Doesn’t Take Place Until You Feel Whole And Complete Again: Many women echo this wife’s concerns.  It’s so common to hope that once this other woman is out of the picture, our struggles will be over.  But frankly, sometimes the struggles truly are just beginning.  Yes, healing your marriage (and yourself) is often  very difficult or next to impossible with her still in the picture.  But, once she’s gone, that’s when you have to begin to truly pick up the pieces.  And even if she’s no longer there physically, her presence can often be felt mentally and psychologically for a long while after the affair is over.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should be discouraged or allow your frustration to halt your progress.  Understand that true healing and feeling whole once again isn’t going to happen overnight.  Eliminating her from the picture is necessary and it’s a huge step toward recovery.  But, understand that getting her out of the picture only means that you won’t have to contend with her anymore. It doesn’t mean that you’ve done anything to improve yourself, your marriage, or the after math of what’s happened.

I know from experience, that you often won’t feel like you’ve really won or recovered until you are at peace and happy again.  Because if you get your husband to chose you over her but then do nothing to ensure the healing and recovery or yourself and your marriage, then you are still likely to walk around wounded, hurt, and unsure.  This can leave you feeling as if she’s still a ghost in your marriage and your life.

In order to really rid her from your life and your mind, you have to make sure that recovery is so complete that there’s no longer any room for her.  If you can rebuild to the point where you are once again happy, confident and fulfilled, it’s only then that you will have the confidence to realize that not only is she no longer a problem or source of pain for you, but that she was never solely the problem to begin with.

Understand That The Other Woman Is Often Just A Symptom Or What’s Wrong. So Eliminating Her Without Also Addressing The Other Issues Can Still Leave You Feeling Empty And Unsure: When the other woman is a huge presence in our lives, we often convince ourselves that if we can just convince our husbands to chose us over her (so that we can get her out of the picture) then everything is going to be all right once again.

But we often don’t realize is that she’s not the entire problem.  She’s often a symptom of what was wrong either with our husband (a lack of self esteem, a time of personal crisis, etc.) or with our marriage.  So just removing her from the picture doesn’t change those things that brought about the symptom in the first place.  In order to truly heal and to feel confident that she (and her aftermath) are gone from our lives and are no longer a threat to us, we’ll often need to remove those things that contributed to her coming into our lives in the first place.

There often isn’t a quick fix for this.  Recovery after infidelity is often a detailed process that requires a lot of work both individually and as a couple.  But the good news is that couples who are really committed to truly rebuilding their marriages are often rewarded with a relationship that is better than ever and the confidence to know that the other woman (and others like her) are something that they aren’t going to have to worry about in the future.

Surviving The Affair is a blog I put together to share my story. I know that this is a very difficult time, and that recovery can be elusive, but working through it can truly be worth the effort. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, I did eventually truly get over the affair. My marriage is stronger than ever. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. If it helps, you can check it out at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

How Do I Break Off The Affair With Someone Who I Actually Love?

I sometimes hear from people who know that their affair is wrong on multiple levels. Because of this, they know that the affair must end. They know that ending it is the right solution for everyone involved. And yet, they also know that there is going to be pain involved because they truly believe that they are in love with the other person and vice verse. So, in their minds, they want to handle the “breaking off” of the affair correctly and properly.

To that end, you might hear someone say, “I know that this is going to sound somewhat cringeworthy. But I have been having an affair and I know that it is wrong. I know that I need to end it. But at the same time, there is no question in my mind that I love the other person. However, I love my family more. I’ve noticed some disturbing behavioral issues with my children and I know in my heart that part of the problem is my emotional absence from the home. So I know that I need to turn all of my attention to my family. And I DO love my husband also. I know that the affair has to end. But I’m not sure about the proper way to do it. The other man has been there for me. I know that he loves me as much as I love him. And he deserves more than to just be brushed off. I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to do this.”

I understand where you are coming from, but if the other man knows that you are married and that you have children, I suspect that he had to know that the end of your relationship might arrive at some point. And if he really does care about you, then he must know how invested you are in your children. If he also has children, how could he possibly not understand?

I think that you can never go wrong with just being honest. There is nothing wrong with telling him that you are going to place your focus where it belongs – on your family. I don’t see how anyone in their right mind could fault you for that. Everyone should understand why you’d need to prioritize your children. I also don’t think that there is any kindness in dwelling on how much you care for him and what a sacrifice it feels like to end things. It’s really not helpful to give someone hope that you will change your mind when you know that you shouldn’t and won’t.

So I’d try something very direct, like, “I need to end our relationship because my family needs me. I am sorry that I involved you in an inappropriate relationship when what I needed to do was focus on my family. But now that I see my mistake, I really need to make this right and to place my immediate attention where he belongs. I’m truly sorry and I hope that you understand, but the relationship has to end.”  You can say it with a gentle and kind tone if you feel that this might make things better.

You have to say it very decisively because you don’t want for him to continue to contact you. This just causes confusion and more pain for everyone and it keeps you from your primary goal, which is your family. After you do this, move right on. Don’t dwell. Don’t check up on him. Don’t look at old pictures or ruminate on this. Do exactly what you said you were going to do – prioritize your family.

Speaking of your family, you didn’t mention whether or not your husband knows about this. So I can’t speak for him, but I would strongly suggest counseling or doing some self work to determine why you sought out an affair in the first place. You’ve placed your family first and that’s wonderful. But part of giving them the mother and parent that they deserve is making sure that you don’t repeat this same mistake. So determine what set you up to be unfaithful in the first place and then fix it. That way, you truly are free to devote yourself to your family with confidence.

I know that in these types of situations, it’s easy to get caught up in trying not to hurt anyone. But the real people who should be protected are the children. Someone who participated in an affair is an adult who knew that the relationship was going to have its challenges. You can certainly try to deliver the message with compassion, but I think that we can all agree that you have to deliver it with finality and then move on to what you know is most important. In truth, we often feel loving towards those people with whom we spend the most high quality time. When you give that time to your family, the love you feel should shift to them and the pain that you are feeling now should improve. I don’t mean to be insensitive. I’m just trying to stress what you probably already know deep in your heart.

The good news is that families can and do recover from affairs each and every day.  The damage does not need to be forever.  You can read more about my journey in trying to accomplish this on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

I Regret Cutting My Spouse Out Of My Life After His Affair, But I Don’t Know How To Let Him Back In

Understandably, many wives dealing with the overwhelming reality of an affair want their husbands out of their sight immediately. They don’t want to look at him. They don’t want to hear his excuses. They just don’t want him anywhere near their personal space, so they ask him to leave. In the days after this, many husbands will desperately try to call or come over, but many wives reject these overtures. Some people may call this an overreaction, but if you’ve ever dealt with infidelity, you probably understand.

A wife might say, “I know that is a totally a stereotype, but when I found out about my husband’s cheating, I threw his belongings out of the house and I refused to let him in. I told him that I couldn’t care less where he was going. The next day, he called me. I did not answer. He kept right on calling, so I picked up and I told him that he was wasting his time and that I did not have anything to say to him. As days went by, he started coming by my office in an attempt to talk to me. I had my staff tell him that I was busy. In short, I have thwarted every single attempt that he has made to speak to or communicate with me. I had nothing to say. None of his excuses were going to make any difference. He has long been aware that infidelity is a deal breaker to me and I’ve always been very firm on that. I’m not going to back track now. So I haven’t spoken to him in weeks. One of our mutual friends ran into my husband at a bar. The friend said my husband was unkempt and a mess. My husband mentioned that his father was in the hospital due to a stroke. My heart is sinking because now I feel like that could have been what my husband was trying to communicate with me when I was refusing to see him. I am close to my husband’s sister – although I haven’t spoken to her, either. Now, my heart hurts for both my husband and my sister-in-law. I would not mind being supportive of both of them, but I’m worried that my husband might get mixed signals with this. I still care about my husband and I want to be there for his family. But I still don’t want my marriage right now. I realize now that I was wrong to just abruptly cut him out of my life. But at the same time, I have no idea what type of relationship I can offer him going forward. I’m still very angry, but I still feel like we are family to an extent. And I know that if anything happened to my parents, he would be there for me. How do I let him know that I’m willing to be there for him without making a commitment toward our marriage?”

I think it’s admirable for you to care in this way. And I don’t think that there is anything wrong with calling your husband and saying something like, “I heard about your dad and I am sorry. Is there anything that I can do for you or your sister? I’m here if you want to talk.” And then let him take it from there. He may take you up on your offer to talk. He likely has enough to handle with his father that he won’t overstep and try to bring up the topic to your marriage.

You can certainly listen if he wants to talk and help with anything that he and your sister-in-law might need. It’s just natural to want to be there for someone who has been your family for so long. Even if you are angry with him for his mistake, there is no negating what you have been to each other for many years.

I think that at this point, all you can do is reach out to him and see how he responds. Since he’s been making such a huge effort to communicate with you, I can’t imagine that he will not be receptive. If he begins to push about your marriage, you can always say, “my focus right now is being there for your dad and sister. This is not the time to focus on our marriage. I want to support you and your family right now. I don’t want to talk about or make any decisions about our marriage. Let’s just focus on your dad.”

Just take things one step at a time. You may feel now that cutting him out of your life was dramatic, but so many people have the exact same reaction. An affair is a huge betrayal. Most people have a reaction that is also huge. Reaching out to your husband may help both of you to calm down a little. And it doesn’t have to mean that you’ve forgiven him or that you want to get back together. It can just mean that he was very important to you for many years and, because of that relationship, you want to be there for him right now. There is nothing wrong with that. One mistake does not erase your history and there’s nothing wrong with respecting that history.

There were times early on in our recovery that I had to put my anger at my husband aside in order to deal with life’s daily issues.  This wasn’t always easy, but it was necessary for our children and extended family.  It didn’t mean that I’d forgotten about the affair for even one second.  It just meant that there were other things in our lives besides the affair that needed our attention.  If it helps you can read more 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

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