The Affair Is Over. What Now?

By: Katie Lersch:  If you are in a situation where your spouse hasn’t decided if they are willing to end the affair for the sake of your marriage, you can get to the point where you think that if you could just get past that hurdle and find a way to end things once and for all, then you could finally begin to move on.  This is the hope, anyway.  But some people find that once the affair ends, things don’t fall into place as easily as you hoped.

Someone might say: “when I caught my husband cheating, he was honest about his confused feelings.  He said that he loved me and that he was sorry.  But he said he wouldn’t lie and pretend that he didn’t also love the other woman.  He said he needed a little time to figure out what he was going to do.  I told him this wasn’t going to fly.  I even got our counselor on his back about it.  Still, he held firm.  He said he wasn’t going to lie and tell me that he broke it off when he knew that he wasn’t. This went on for about four weeks and then he finally came home and announced that he had ended it.  I wasn’t sure that I believed him.  So I called the other woman. She was actually crying and she said that yes, he had broke it off and that she hopes she never sees either of us ever again.  That is fine with me, also.  I feel a sense of relief.  But I do not feel as happy as I thought I might.  Because now I don’t know what to do.  I mean, I guess I won.  But clearly, it was a tough decision for him.  He wasn’t sure that he wanted me.  I feel insecure.  I’m still angry.  Our lives are still shattered.  What now? What happens after the affair is finally over?”

Well, I suppose it is the time to get clear on what you want moving forward and then get to work toward making it happen.  Since you are in counseling and were willing to wait for him to come to a decision, it seems pretty clear that you suspect that you want to save your marriage.

We often assume that once the business of the affair is over, our marriage should just fall back into place.  This would be somewhat fair after all that we have been through.  I sure wish that’s how it happens. But in my experience, it is not.

If you just sit around and wait for that to happen, you may be waiting for a long while.  And your marriage may continue to deteriorate in the meantime. You have to be proactive about moving forward.  And often, you need to do this as an individual and as a couple.  Because as an individual and a woman, your self esteem and your belief in your own perceptions have been challenged.  You feel damaged.  It’s extremely hard to heal a marriage with this kind of individual transformation. If you can strengthen yourself as an individual, it will be easier, and more effective, to save your marriage.

And, the same is completely true for your husband.  The person who cheated will often need even more individual work.  They need to determine what was behind their actions and they often need to work through the guilt and self loathing that they may feel after the affair.

It seems you are already in counseling and that is wonderful.  Because your counselor can help walk you through this process.  And sometimes, the process does take some time.  You may not know exactly what you want or exactly how to go about getting it.  But now that the affair is over, things don’t need to feel so immediate.  You may start to realize that now you can let out your breath and take your time.

Please be gentle with yourself.  Don’t apply pressure.  I know it’s a stretch to ever look at an affair as a good thing or an opportunity.  But it does give you the ability to take inventory.  It does make room for positive change.  It does allow you to define a new life and a new marriage if this is what you want. But these things don’t just happen.  You have to define them as a wish and then you need to formulate a plan as to how you get there and then follow that plan – even when it’s easy to get discouraged or derailed.

It often takes one step a time. Perhaps you will work on communication first and then trust and then intimacy.  As long as you are making progress, try not to think that you are doing it all wrong.  You won’t always feel like things are going your way, but at least you will know that you are on a forward path if you stay the course.

There was definitely a holding pattern after my husband’s affair.  He lived outside of our home for a short while and I worked on myself.  By the time we got serious about saving our marriage, we were both pretty clear that we shared the commitment.  Then, it was just a matter of finding a workable plan.  This wasn’t automatic.  We tried some things and discarded some when they didn’t work.  And when we found things that helped, we did those things more.  We made slow progress but eventually we got where we wanted to go.  You’re welcome to read more about my own process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Ever Since My Husband Had An Affair, Even Little White Lies And Small Omissions Make Me Furious And Suspicious

By: Katie Lersh:  I think that it is fair to say that, for most wives who are dealing with the aftermath of an affair, the truth becomes very important.  Many of us will insist that nothing less than brutal honesty will do.  When you have been lied to about something as serious as fidelity in your marriage, you realize just how damaging any type of lie can be.

To that end, many wives will be highly upset by any lie at all – even little white ones or those that would have otherwise seemed quite harmless in the past.  One might explain: “I constantly catch my husband in little half-truths.  And it is driving me crazy.  Even I have to admit that none of these omissions are serious things. In fact, two years ago, I would not have even have given any of these things a second thought.  But now, since my husband and I are trying to recover from an affair, I understandably demand complete honesty.  The things are minor – he will say that they celebrated one person’s birthday at the office, when in fact it was someone different entirely.  He will exaggerate the cost of something.  He will tell me that he had a meeting on Tuesday when in fact it was on Wednesday.  For most of these things, he will insist that he made an honest mistake and that he wasn’t deliberately trying to deceive me.  He will ask why it is important that he exaggerated the cost of something by five dollars or misspoke about a birthday. I have tried to explain to him that it is important because a habit of little mistruths makes me wonder what else he might be stretching the truth about.  At that point, he gets angry, says that everything comes back to the affair, and tells me that no one can get everything accurate 100 percent of the time. He asked me to examine everything I say over the course of a day and then he predicted that I will find myself surprised at how much I innocently ‘slip up.’ Well, I tried that experiment.  And frankly, the vast majority of the time, I was accurate on everything.  Which makes me worry that I am inherently an honest person while my husband is not.  To be fair, I didn’t used to think of him as a dishonest person.  In the past, I would have chalked this up to my husband not being a particularly observing or exact person.  He misses things.  He’s not always paying the closest attention.  But since he has deceived me about something as big as our marriage, I can’t seem to give him the benefit of the doubt anymore.  I look for fault and deception everywhere. I am wondering if I need to stop this or if he needs to start telling the complete truth.  If so, how do I stop?  I have become so suspicious that it is a little unsettling.”

Understanding The Reasons And Consequences Behind Your Actions: I understand why you feel the way that you do.  What you are experiencing is extremely common.  You’re afraid that he will cheat again and so you are always on the look out for deception.  The upside to this is that it can make you feel as though you are less likely to be caught off guard again.  But the down side to this is that sometimes, you will see trouble where none exists.  And you will feel paranoid, while your husband will feel frustrated.

This can get better in time.  As you come to see that nothing catastrophic is happening, you can begin to relax.  However, there is no sense in being uncomfortable and suspicious if a little compromise might make this better.  I think that if both of you give just a little, this situation may improve some.

Effectively Addressing The Issue: I know that it’s very tempting to get accusatory and to start peppering him with questions when you believe that you’ve caught him in a lie or an omission, but I think it can help to pause for just a second and then to say something like: “listen, I know that this seems very petty and nit-picky to you.  But considering what we have been through because of deception, I am going to ask you to think and to be very specific.  I think that this need for precision on my part might change and improve some as we heal, but right now, it makes sense to make sure we do everything possible to restore the trust.  When you tell me something that isn’t completely and totally true, it makes it hard for me to trust you completely.  Admittedly, I am overly suspicious because of what I have been through, but I think that this is understandable.  It may seem as you are having to overcompensate for a while, but I think that it is reasonable of me to ask this of you.  Please just make sure when you tell me something, it is accurate to the best of your ability. In turn, I will try not to look for untruths when they aren’t there. Right now, the truth is vitally important to me.  I think that you understand why.  So let’s work hard not to let this issue continue to come between us.  Can we agree on that?

If you both try to give a little, I hope that you will see some improvement in this issue.  Restoring the trust is one of the hardest issues to overcome.  But it is also the most important issue to conquer because it is no fun constantly thinking that he is lying to you and him constantly feeling as if you are always waiting to catch him in a lie.

I was suspicious of my husband quite a lot after the affair.  I accused him of lying when he wasn’t.  I found that healing our marriage was the most effective way to deal with the perceived lies.  Once I began to trust again, I was no longer looking for any little slip.  I worried that relaxing on that count might mean that I would be caught unaware again, but that didn’t happen.  You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Married Men And Affairs: Who’s To Blame?

By: Katie Lersch: Blame after a husband’s affair is a very common topic on my surviving infidelity blog.  Sometimes, the faithful wife will blame the other woman more than she blames her husband.  (An example is something like: “We were happy, but that woman sees a happily married man as a challenge. She was determined to have him and she wouldn’t stop until she got him.  She didn’t care if my family was destroyed in the process.  I loathe her for what she did to us.”

With that said, there’s no shortage of wives who place a good deal of blame onto their husband’s.  It’s not unusual for me to hear comments like: “my husband should be so embarrassed by his idiotic behavior.  Here’s a middle aged man chasing after someone who isn’t his wife.  Doesn’t he see that none of it is real? I’m the one who has always stood by him but I guess that doesn’t matter to him. What a jerk.”

The other woman who is cheating with a married man will often blame the wife for not giving the husband what he needed to stay faithful. (An example is something like: “it wasn’t my intention to become involved with a married man.  I didn’t purse him and I tried to avoid it.  But, he was so unhappy in his marriage.  His wife didn’t appreciate him and we just just connected and formed a bond.  I didn’t mean to hurt anyone and I’m sorry if I did, but if she had appreciated what was right in front of her, he wouldn’t have sought me out.”

Who the cheating husband blames often more varied.  Sometimes, he will blame himself, especially if he has the time or personal insight to reflect on his actions.  It’s not unusual for me to hear comments like: “I was so stupid.  I had the most wonderful life and family and I jeopardized it over someone that I really didn’t know and still don’t.  I don’t know how I couldn’t been so dumb.”

Some husbands don’t have this insight though.  There are some who will place the blame on the women involved.  Cheating husbands will sometimes paint themselves as the innocent party.  An example is something like “the other woman literally threw herself at me on countless occasions.  I always stressed that I was married and not interested.    And then one night, I got drunk and gave in.  I will regret that for the rest of my life but I want my wife to understand that I did not pursue her.  She pursued me and I resisted for a very long time before anything happened.”

When a husband blames his wife for an affair, you’ll often hear things like: “I didn’t wake up that morning intending to have an affair.  Over time, it just happened.  Things weren’t all that great at home.  We hardly ever had sex anymore.   She never made the time to really listen to me and when I would approach her for sex, she would make me feel like it was a chore or that I was something to be scheduled or squeezed into her busy schedule.  I’m not trying to defend my cheating, but I want to make it clear that if our marriage had been better, I wouldn’t have had a need to go outside of it.”

What’s interesting is that all of the people in the above examples usually absolutely believe that they are speaking the truth at the time.  They don’t see their statements as ones that are meant to shift or assign the blame.  They just see their assertions as their truth. So, who is really to blame when a married man has an affair?  Here’s my take.

Which Person Is Most To Blame When A Married Man Has An Affair?: I have to admit that now that I’ve had years to reflect what lead up to my own husband’s affair, there was a varied amount of blame to go around in my situation.   But, even after all of my research and the help that I received, it’s still my opinion (and yours may of course be different) that the real blame belongs with the people who took the action to cheat or to have an affair.

Yes, the marriage may have been faltering or even toxic. Your needs may not have been met.  You may have been going through extremely difficult personal struggles. But none of this is justification for cheating.  There are plenty of people who have a multitude of problems who deal with them in ways other than cheating.  There is always a different path.  Counseling, reaching out to your spouse, working through your problems, a separation, or even a divorce are, in my view, options that are preferable to cheating.

As for the other woman, yes, I believe there’s some blame for her as well.  And, while she often doesn’t have accurate information available to her (as husbands will and do tell her things that just aren’t true) knowing that a man is married should be enough information.  Whether a man is happy or understood in his marriage or not, the very fact that he is married should be enough.

Finally, I do believe that there is always lessons to be learned for the faithful wife.  There is usually places where, in hindsight, you can see where your marriage was vulnerable and what you part you played in the same.  With that said though, I don’t believe that any of these vulnerabilities justify cheating.  But, I do believe that it’s important to take a long, hard look at them just the same and remove them so that they don’t continue to cause you issues and pain (and they can come into play in the future whether you save your marriage or not.)

So my own answer to the posed question is that I think there’s plenty of blame to go around when a married man cheats.  But, I think that, of the three people involved, the man himself is the most culpable because he himself intimately knows the circumstances in the marriage, he is the one who is married, and he chooses to act anyway. That’s not to say that the other woman is innocent.  She certainly is not.  But she isn’t as legally or morally bound the faithful wife in the way that the husband is.   And she is not the one who has to face the faithful wife and begin to heal the marriage. This is only my opinion that was formed through my own experience and through interactions on my blog.  Your experiences and opinions certainly might differ.

And, frankly, who is to blame doesn’t matter nearly as much as who is going to take responsibility for the healing.  The fact that a husband shares some of the blame doesn’t mean that he can never be rehabilitated or that he’ll never be a good and faithful husband in the future.  It can mean that he should be an active participant in healing as his actions set this whole thing into motion.

I know that deciding who is to blame for the affair might be very important to you right now.  But, in truth, the blame is often not as important as the healing.  And focusing on the blame for so long that you delay your healing can cause continued pain that could be avoided.  It took me way too long to realize this, but once I did, it made quite a lot of difference.  If it helps, you can read more of that story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

My Husband Says His Mistress Is His Best Friend. And Therefore, He Can’t Give Her Up

By: Katie Lersch:  A cheating husbands will sometimes give his wife various reasons that he can not possibly give up the other woman or mistress.

Excuses that I’ve heard are things like: “she’s so fragile that I can’t break it off right now;” or “I’m going to break it off but I need to do it gradually.”  Another is “but she’s my best friend. I can tell her anything. I don’t want her out of my life.  So we will be friends, but it will no longer be a romantic relationship.”

This leaves the wife with an awful choice.  If she’s going to get the romantic relationship ended, does she have to accept that this woman is going to be her husband’s best friend?  A wife might ask: “how am I supposed to handle my husband’s mistress when he claims that she is his very best friend?  My husband grew up in the same neighborhood as this woman.  Their mothers are very good friends and almost consider each other to be sisters.  My husband actually calls the other woman’s mother his aunt.  My husband swears that there was nothing but friendship between them except for when their relationship changed over this last year. He swears that he never intended to leave me.  But he says that he can’t think about ending their relationship either.  He said that he needs her because she knew him when he was nobody and he knows that she cares about him for himself and not for his achievements.  Like every wife in this situation, I want her gone. But he refuses to even think about it.  He acts as if he can’t function without her.  He says that she is his best friend and always will be.  I don’t want to lose my marriage.  I want a chance to make it work.  But I don’t know how it can work with her still in our lives and with her being so important to my husband.  I think about the way that I feel about my best friend (who is a woman) and I can understand not wanting to let go of that support.  I want her in my life and would be mad if my husband made me end the relationship.  But it’s different because my best friend doesn’t threaten my marriage.  Am I wrong about this?”

I don’t think that you are wrong at all.  In my opinion, it would be extremely hard to live in harmony with this situation.  I am sure that there is a couple out there who has done it successfully, but I would suspect that their situation was extremely rare.

It would be very hard to know that your husband continues to see her regularly, share his hopes and dreams with her, talk about your marriage with her, and generally fold her into your lives.  You would always worry that they are going to cross the line again.  And it would very hard for you to completely heal, while having to always worry about this.

So how do you get him to agree?  I think that the easiest way would be to go to counseling.  Because although I’m sure there are a few counselors out there who might try to work with what you have, I’d suspect that most of them would tell him that he has to end the relationship – at least somewhat.  While it is unrealistic to think that he may never see or interact with her again (because of the closeness between the families,) it is fair to expect for him to see her rarely and to interact with her even less.

Yes, this is sad and unfortunate.  But he made that so when he allowed for their relationship to change.  He is the one who made that choice.  And unless you are willing to have an open marriage and share him, I suspect that their relationship as it is now is going to need to end completely and with finality.

It is just too much to ask of you to allow her to remain in your life.  And it is too much temptation for him.  If the roles were reversed and your best friend was a man with whom you’d developed an inappropriate relationship or had an affair, do you think that he would allow you to carry on with the friendship?  Few people would.  Most people would insist that the relationship end.

If you are not comfortable making this demand or you know that he is just going to refuse, then know that I truly believe most counselors would immediately tell him that keeping that relationship (even if it’s supposedly just a friendship) is just not realistic or advisable.  Sometimes, when it is coming from someone who isn’t you, who is an expert, and to whom you are paying good money, the message is received a little better.

I can tell you that it is a challenge to revive your marriage after an affair even when the other woman is obviously and completely out of the picture.  I can not imagine doing it if she were openly still in the picture and still given a front and center place in the husband’s life and heart.  I do not think that I could have accepted or worked with that situation, but every one is different.  And every marriage has its challenges after an affair.  You’re welcome to read about mine 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 thyroid 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, a period of self doubt or a period of feeling helpless. During such times, the cheating is in response to the stress and is an attempt to man 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 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 (for which he is likely very sorry) 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 Men Isolate Themselves When They Are Involved In Infidelity?

By: Katie Lersch:  Wives who recount a husband who is unfaithful will often notice that he pulled away either before the infidelity happened, as it was happening, or after it was over.  Many wives don’t completely understand why he would want to isolate himself in this way, especially when it makes the whole situation a little more obvious.

Someone may ask a question like this one:  “frankly, one of the reasons that I knew my husband was cheating is because he stopped attending almost all family outings.  He stopped wanting to go to church as a family.  He stopped our Sunday and Friday night dinners.  He stopped attending movie night.  He was no longer confiding in me. He stopped investing time in my children.  So I knew that there was some major reason that he was pulling away.  When I found out that he had been cheating, I was not even that surprised.  But what does surprise me is that now that the affair is over, he is still pulling away.  He says he wants this marriage and this family.  He promises me that these claims are true. But he sure is not participating in any of it.  He still doesn’t interact with us.  He still mostly keeps to himself.  I tell him that in order to heal, we need to spend time together and pull toward each other.  He doesn’t even really respond to this.  Why do men isolate themselves during infidelity?  And why do they continue to do it even when the infidelity is over?”

I am certainly no expert, but from my own experience and observations, men isolate themselves before and during infidelity for different reasons than they isolate themselves afterwards.

Why Men Isolate Themselves Before The Affair:  In the time period before the affair, men may be struggling with an issue in their lives and they are not reaching out to their spouse for help.  This isn’t their spouse’s fault.  Because they sometimes never even gave their spouse a chance to help matters.  But they isolate themselves because they are struggling.  As a result, they feel increasingly alone and vulnerable.

This vulnerability is often the precursor to the affair.  They end up reaching out to someone else for relief instead of their spouse.  Perhaps they don’t want to burden their spouse with their issue or they are embarrassed and afraid that they spouse will think less of them if they share their vulnerability.

During The Affair: Once the affair happens, men isolate themselves because they don’t want to raise suspicion.  They don’t want for you to look closely because that increases the risk of detection.  Also, he likely feels very guilty and ashamed.  Seeing you and spending time with you only increases this guilt.  So it makes it easier on him if he can spend less time with you and more time with himself.

Isolation Once Detection Has Taken Place: Once the affair is found out, the isolation is because he’s likely embarrassed and trying to minimize the fall out.  He simply doesn’t want to face you.  And he may feel as if he doesn’t deserve to be around you.  He doesn’t know what to say or do so he figures that it’s best to just keep to himself and let you tell him when you’re ready to communicate or to move forward.  It doesn’t seem fair that he wants you to come to him, does it?  But he’s likely afraid of your reaction so he figures it’s best to steer clear of you right now.

So how do you get him out of his isolation?  Well, you have a couple of options.  Going to counseling together is a fast way to get him to open up.  It may feel better to him if someone other than you is asking the questions.

If you are not in counseling, you can attempt to communicate that his current level of isolation isn’t agreeable to you.  An example is something like: “I can’t help but notice that more and more, you are isolating yourself from me and the family.  I get that you might not be sure how much I want you around right now because I’m angry and hurt.  But I don’t think avoiding each other is doing us any good.  We’re going to need to communicate eventually.  And when you isolate yourself, it just makes things more awkward and cold between us.  Nothing is going to be gained by not talking or interacting.  I don’t expect for us to have a high degree of intimacy immediately.  That isn’t realistic.  But I do expect for us to have access to one another and to be able to talk openly.  Maybe we can do this on our own or maybe we need counseling to help us, but I don’t think that it’s in our best interest for either of us to just draw into ourselves. Do you agree?”

In the days to come, you may have to remind him about this.  When you notice him become isolated, you may have to call him out and ask him to join you.  In other words, you may have to constantly ask him not to isolate himself.  But once he finds that there truly is no place to hide, he will likely stop trying.  In truth, there is no escaping dealing with the affair.  He may be trying to hide, but the issues will likely keep coming on until you deal with them.  He may not realize this initially, but it usually becomes apparent soon enough.

I admit that both my husband and I isolated ourselves after the detection of his affair.  I had no desire to be around him and he was scared to be around me.  This phase ended relatively quickly because of our children.  But that doesn’t mean there was smooth sailing ahead.  Not by a long shot.  We had a tough period that we had to get through.  But we eventually found some help in getting there.  You can read more more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

What Does The Other Woman Really Want In An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from wives who are trying very hard to understand the motivation of the other woman.  They want to know who or what they are dealing with, of course.  But many do not understand how someone would want to have a relationship with a man who is already committed or already has a family.  Who would want to be in a relationship that is so complicated and so hurtful.  When there are so many other men out there, why chose one that is married?  What could possibly be in it for her?

A wife might say: “I do not understand what my husband’s other woman is expecting to accomplish.  She has her own business and her own money.  She is successful.  She has never been married and doesn’t seem interested in getting married.  So I don’t know what she would be looking to get out of this.  What does the other woman typically want?”

It certainly varies.  In the same way that people have different motivations in all relationships, so too does the other woman. However, because I write articles about this, I do hear from many people in many different situations.  Below, I will go over some of the motivations that I commonly see.

The Attention And An Ego Boost:  In today’s society, people seemed almost starved for attention.  Many people base their value on how many “likes” they get on Facebook or how popular they are on instagram.  Our culture today seems to have the perception that if you don’t get a lot of attention, you are not worthy.

So many women in an affair are drawn to the attention.  It gives their ego a boost and they are thrilled to know that they can get someone else’s husband to pay attention to them. I know that it’s kind of sad.  But in some cases it is true.

The Excitement Of Doing Something That Isn’t Right:  People who are honest will often tell you that it wasn’t necessarily the sex in an affair that was the draw, it was the fact that the sex was forbidden.  Some people just like the thrill of knowing that they are doing something that is frowned upon.  It intensifies the experience.

A Relationship Without Attachments Or Complications: Believe it or not, some women who have affairs with married men do not want anything in return.  Some of them are very clear that they never want to be in a committed relationship.  So they get involved with a married man who is also clear on the fact that he has no intention of leaving his wife or family.  Neither of them want anything more than a relationship with no strings attached.  They feel that this keeps things less complicated.

The Continuation Of Being A Glutton For Punishment:  Some women have an uncanny knack for choosing emotionally unavailable men.  They may have low self esteem and are not doing this consciously.  They just seem to be a magnet for men who have no intention of doing right by them.  Sure, the men will take what the woman is offering, but they never have any intention of truly standing by her.  Because of her lack of self esteem, she can repeat this process several times.  She may or may not finally wise up and learn to choose men who are available either literally or emotionally.

A Lack Of Truth: Every once in a while, I will hear from someone who swears that the man never told her that he was married and she never figured it out until she was heavily invested in the relationship.  Many times, she never would have had anything to do with him if she had known he was married. But once she finds out about the marriage, she doesn’t break it off because she believes that she has developed real feelings.

The Hope Of Something More:  On the other end of the spectrum is the other woman who knows with her head that this man is married ,but is hoping with her heart that he is going to grow to care for her enough that she may eventually become the wife.  These women like to believe that they are special in some way – so special in fact that he is going to throw everything away to be with her.

These are the women who will continue to call and try to maintain contact even with the husband tries to break it off and honestly tells her that he is going to work on his marriage and stop cheating.  These are the women who heard the husband say that he had no intention of ending his marriage, but who thought that they could change his mind after a little while.

As you can see, women have various motivations and wishes when they have an affair.  One size does not fit all.  In the case that this wife described, the other woman may fall into the category of not wanting a permanent or serious relationship.  She may be the type of other woman who actually seeks out married men so that she can have a relationship where nothing overly emotional or permanent takes place.  This feels more safe to her and she doesn’t see herself as a threat to your marriage.  But obviously, she can’t make that call for you.  Because you know that the existence of cheating is threat enough.

I know that this is hard.  I did try to figure out what the other woman was thinking or wanting.  But I decided that ultimately, what mattered most was what I wanted.  Because at the end of the day, I was committed to getting her out of our lives for good.  That’s more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Why Do Men Risk Their Family To Have An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: Of all of the reasons that people give me for trying to save their marriage after infidelity, their children is the most common – by far. I can identify with this because I can honestly say that if it were not for my own children, I might not even have considered not immediately leaving my marriage the second the affair was discovered.

And while the desire to save the marriage for the kids is often there, the understanding as to why this is necessary is not. People just can not understand how a man who so clearly values his family over everything else would risk the very thing that he values the most.

A wife might ask: “I truly didn’t understand my husband’s affair yesterday, but this morning, I saw the other woman. And now, I really do not understand it. I’m more confused now than before. She’s not even attractive. She’s about twenty pounds overweight. I don’t get why my husband would risk his family – who I know he adores – for this ugly witch. I remember times when my husband would stay up all night with sick children. Very recently, he worked two jobs so that our family would have our dream home. He puts aside double savings for our retirement. He plans our long-term future. I know that he plans to be with his family forever. I know that he would be devastated if he didn’t get to live with his children. And I truly believe that he loves me. Why then, would he risk this for a stranger who isn’t even pleasing to look at?”

Any theories that I would come up with would only be speculation. I can tell you that from the men that I hear from, the vast majority of them are looking for ways to convince their wives not to leave them. Much of the time, they still love their wives. But almost all of the time, their first concern is their children. The number one thing that they want to know is how to save their family.

Quite frankly, these men all seem somewhat shell shocked. At times, I’ve wanted to ask them why they didn’t worry about all of these things when they were cheating. But perhaps this makes my point for me. I believe that they do their very best to push this possibility out of their mind. They are able to believe that this day will never come. They rarely intend to leave their wives for the other woman. They honestly don’t believe that this affair was ever going to be a lasting relationship.

In a sense, they are in a state of denial because this is the only way they are able to carry out their risky behavior and still be a part of their family. It is the way to them to keep juggling all of their plates on sticks without them all coming crashing down. It’s never that the men decide that they no longer want to be part of their family or their children’s lives (because not being able to be active in their children’s upbringing is often their very biggest fear.) It’s just that they never believe that it will come down to that.

It’s like eating burgers and fries when you know that this may eventually give you a heart attack.  You know that the risk is real, but you don’t allow yourself to go there because that is a future that you hope will never happen.  So you do not think of it as reality.

And that is why you will often see these men panic when they have to face that harsh reality. Because very often, the wife is not sure if she wants to save her marriage immediately. She needs time to process this and to eventually decide. And it is during this time – when he has no idea if he is going to be able to maintain his family in it’s current state – that he realizes that he has put it all in jeopardy. He hasn’t usually been thinking about that until now. And it is often at this point that he feels the deepest regret.

I can’t speculate about what he saw in the other woman, but I can say that it’s often my belief that it wasn’t that he found something particularly special or alluring about her other than the fact that she was there during a time where he was the most vulnerable or struggling with something. I honestly believe that an affair is about 80% due to something internal going on with the man and about 20% (or less) due to the other woman or the circumstances surrounding her.

In truth, I often think that she could be any one who came into his life at that time – regardless of what she looked like or who she was. I’m fully aware that many people disagree, but this is my take. And you will often hear men agree with this when they admit after the fact that they don’t know what they were thinking or what they saw in this person who is virtual stranger.

The short answer, though, in my view, is that at the time, he convinced himself that he was careful enough or the relationship was going to be short enough so that there was minimal risk. If men truly understood how big a risk they were actually taking, there would likely be much fewer affairs.

I believe that most men who beg their wives not to break up their family are genuine.   They are panicked because it’s only now that they see the risk.  Should they have thought about it before?  Yes, absolutely.  But you can’t change the past.  You can only decide how you want to move forward and then place your focus there.  I ultimately decided to maintaining my family was most important and then I focused on minimizing the future risk. You can read about that 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 Wish I Had Told My Spouse The Truth About The Affair. He Found Out Anyway and Now He Is Furious That I Lied

By: Katie Lersch: When you are cheating or having an affair, you sometimes consider confessing everything and telling your spouse the truth – especially once the affair is over.

Sometimes, you want to confess because you know that it is the right thing to do. Other times, it is the guilt. Or sometimes your spouse is suspicious and asks you about your behavior. Whatever the reason, you make a split-second decision to deny everything.

And although there may be some relief in keeping your secret, you aren’t sure if this is the right call. But something in your heart just can’t bear to hurt your spouse with the truth. So you pray that the truth will never come out. But when it does, not only do you have to deal with the pain that you have caused, you have a spouse who vows to never believe anything that you say ever again.

Someone might explain it this way: “I honestly knew that I should have told my husband the truth about the affair. He had strong suspicions and he confronted me about them. I considered just coming out with the truth. But when I was looking into his eyes and seeing the hurt look on his face, I just could not do that to him. I knew that the affair was totally over. And I knew that I wanted to save my marriage. So I told him that he had it wrong and that I was not cheating. Unfortunately for me, I had confided in the wife of one of my husband’s friends. I thought that I could trust this woman as we have been very close friends for a couple of years. She barely knows my husband, although our husbands work together and are good friends. I guess her husband mentioned my husband’s suspicions to her and she felt that she could not lie to her husband. Of course, my friend’s husband immediately tattled to my husband. I thought about claiming that everyone was lying, but I knew that I could not take it that far. So I had no choice but to confess. Now my husband will not speak to me for more than a couple of minutes at a time. He says he maybe could have forgiven me eventually if I had respected him enough to tell the truth. But he says that he can not overcome lying as well as cheating. I can’t say that I blame him. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to save my marriage. I know that I will never lie to or cheat on him again. But I worry that I will never get another chance. Is there anything that I can do to convince him to at least give me a chance to explain?”

I don’t think that this is an impossible situation if you are truly remorseful and you are willing to be patient. You have to understand that your husband is extremely hurt. He likely needs some time. Pressuring him to listen to you or even to believe you is usually going to fail when this news is so fresh.

I would suggest accepting that he is going to need some time and, in the meantime, controlling what you can. Since you can’t control his thought process or what he is feeling, you want to control yourself. What can you do to make this better? Well, you can explore why you might have cheated and you can figure out ways to ensure that, should you get a second chance, this will never happen again. Counseling or self help is extremely useful for this and it wouldn’t hurt to let your husband know that you are seeking this out so that he at least realizes that you are taking this very seriously and are more than willing to do what is necessary to begin to fix this.

In the future, there may come a time when your husband begins to calm down and, as a result, he has questions. You may be tempted to lie to him because the truth is going to painful. Or you may fear that the truth is going to make him more angry at you. I can tell you that if my husband had repeatedly lied to me about his affair, I would have eventually have stopped giving him chances to speak to me at all.

Restoring the trust is a very fragile process. You only get one chance to tell the truth. If your spouse catches you continuing to lie, it is very doubtful that they will give you many more chances. It’s important that from this day forward, you tell your spouse the truth if they give you an opportunity to do so.

This won’t be easy. And you may find that you need counseling if you suspect that more of the truth is going to make things worse. But this is a problem for which there is really only one solution – you have to prove yourself trustworthy at every turn. You have to do exactly what you claim. And if your spouse asks you something and expects the truth from you, then that’s exactly what you have to provide.

If you want to attempt to have a conversation about this, I’d try something like: “you have every right to doubt my sincerity. I deeply regret lying to you. And I never will again. I can only say that I was trying to spare you pain, even though I know that this is not a valid excuse. I hope that one day you will give me a chance to earn your trust again. But I know that I have to be patient and earn that. When you’re ready to talk, I promise that you will hear nothing but the truth from me.”

He may not take you up on this right away. But be patient and willing to do whatever it takes when he gives you the opportunity. He’s hurting right now. And with time, you may have the opportunity to make this right again.

As I said, if my husband had told me even one more lie after I found out about his affair, I may have never given him another opportunity.  He seemed to understand that there was no alternative but the truth.  And this is sometimes painful for all involved.  But often, your marriage just can not withstand any more lies.  You’re welcome to read more about our own recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com