When Does The Remorse Begin After An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from wives who are extremely frustrated because they are not seeing a lot of remorse in the days following the discovery of an affair.  They often expect for their husbands to immediately express remorse, but this doesn’t always happen.  And this lack of immediate remorse can leave them wondering if they are going to see any sorrow at all, and, if so, when.

I heard from a wife who said: “two days ago, my husband admitted to an affair.  He told me this news in a very matter of fact way and in a somewhat cold tone.   He pretty much just made the announcement and waited for my response.  He didn’t offer any explanations or apologies.  This is weird to me because a year ago, our best friends went through infidelity and my husband was completely outraged at the unfaithful husband’s behavior.  He expressed disappointment that the husband would act with such a lack of integrity or sincerity.  But now, here my husband is acting in the same way and he is not showing any remorse at all.  My friend said that if I give him some time, I will probably begin to get some apologies from him.  Is she right?  When should I expect to see his sorrow?  When does the remorse begin?”  I will try to address these concerns in the following article.

Remorse Follows A Varying Timeline:  Unfortunately, it is very difficult to give a definitive answer about remorse.  Because when you see it often depends upon the personality of the person being unfaithful, their reasons for cheating, and where they are in the other relationship.  For example, if the affair is still intense and current, then you may not see a lot of remorse until the relationship begins to cool down.  Because people often need to understand that the affair is a horrible mistake so that they can feel remorse for it.

But if they think that the relationship is a positive in their life that makes them happier, then they will typically attempt to justify it or refuse to be sorry about it.  As unfortunate as this is, the good news is that often, with time as the affair cools down or the true nature of the other person and the relationship becomes apparent, they will often gain a new perspective on the affair.  As a result, they eventually come to regret it.  And when they do, this is when the remorse often begins.

Sometimes, People Don’t Let Their Spouses See Their Remorse Because They Think It Is A Sign Or Weakness Or They Assume That It Weakens Their Position:  Sometimes, you will see spouses who are sort of indignant after an affair.  They seem to have a cold and uncaring attitude as was the case of this husband.   Many times, the faithful spouse will see this attitude and assume that the cheating spouse isn’t sorry or just doesn’t care about the marriage anymore.  This isn’t always the case.  Sometimes, the cheating spouse is posturing to a degree.  They figure that if they get all emotional and fall over themselves showing remorse, then the faithful spouse will pile on the guilt and will expect to see more of the same type of subservient behavior.

Their thought process is that if they make it clear that they are not going to show weakness early on, then the faithful spouse’s expectations and demands will be lower so that recovery will be much easier for them.  Very few people welcome knowing that they are going to have to express sorrow regularly or grovel for their spouse’s forgiveness.  They would rather try to see if they can set the tone early.

What Are You Options When You Are Not Seeing Remorse Quickly Enough:  It’s my experience that most faithful spouses (including myself) want and demand to see remorse sooner rather than later.  When you see it will sometimes depend upon how the affair is progressing or if it is truly over to the point where the unfaithful spouse can truly understand what a mistake that they have made and can therefore begin to feel sorrow.  If you don’t think your spouse is at this point yet, you may have to wait a bit.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it clear that you expect to see it at some point in the very near future.

For example, the wife in this scenario might look for a time to say something like: “I can’t help but notice that I’m not seeing and hearing a lot of remorse from you about the affair.  I realize that the emotions are still fresh and you may be as confused as I am.  But you need to understand that I’m going to need to see some remorse from you before I can begin to move forward toward recovery.  I need to truly believe that you are genuinely and completely sorry before I can even think about trust you again.   When you have progressed enough where you’re more comfortable expressing that remorse, then let me know.”

You may have noticed that I tried to keep the tone matter of fact, mirroring the husband’s tone.  I didn’t berate or try to shame him (since this was likely to make him feel defensive.)  Instead, I told him what I expected and how to reach out once he got to that point.  It’s my experience that you will have more success with this approach than with trying to shame, guilt, or force him into claiming emotions that he is not yet ready to express.

So to answer the question posed, remorse can begin even before the affair is over, but sometimes it takes a good deal longer.  A lot of this depends upon the situation and the people involved.  And sometimes the faithful spouse will need to make it clear that remorse is not only expected, it is necessary.

I didn’t always see the kind of remorse that I wanted throughout our recovery.  Once I made it clear that this was nonnegotiable, things began to chance.  I also learned to use positive reinforcement instead or relying on guilt and shame, and this helped a good deal.  If it helps, you can read about our recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

Giving The Silent Treatment To The Cheater. Is This Understandable? Is It An Effective Strategy?

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s natural to eventually have not too much to say to your cheating spouse.  Well, let me clarify that.  Many of us have PLENTY to say when we find out about the cheating.  And most of us say plenty (or scream plenty) as soon as the cat is out of the bag.  And we keep saying it.  And then say it some more.  But after a while, we get sort of all talked out.   And once we have our say, our spouse might try to defend himself or to justify his cheating, which most of us definitely do not want to hear.  And so we will want all of the talking to just stop, especially when we don’t have much to say to him anyway – at least at the time.

So it’s natural to resort to the silent treatment.  Not all husbands take kindly to this, though, or just accept it.  Many will tell you that all your refusal to have a conversation is doing is making things worse.  They might try to anger or attempt to goad you into talking to them.  And this can make some wives question their strategy.  Someone might explain: “I would not say that my husband and I had many deep conversations after I found out that he has been cheating on me. Mostly, I yelled and he tried to duck from all of the insults that I was hurling at him.  I think he kept waiting until I calmed down to talk, but it took me a long time.  And he keeps trying to talk, but I shut him down.  I have no interest in what he has to say. There is no excuse that will ever allow this to make sense. There is nothing that he could say to me to soften the blow. So lately, when he tries to talk, I simply leave the room.  And he will try to get me to talk to him, but I will remain silent and just kind of look at him with anger in my eyes.  He tells me that we have to talk eventually and that I can’t give him the silent treatment forever.  I know that I can’t carry on this way forever.  But right now, it is working for me.  If our kids are around, I will make polite requests of him for their benefit, but I don’t talk to him about anything of substance and I do not want to change this any time soon. Do I have to stop giving him the silent treatment?”

I don’t think that you HAVE to do anything.  You have every right to decide what is and is not working for you right now.  After all, if your husband had never cheated, then none of this would be necessary.  He made that decision.  You did not.  And now, you are just dealing with this mess (that you did not create) in the best way that you can.

With this said, I doubt that it can (or should) go on this way forever.  Since you have children, it is vital that you are able to talk openly and honestly with their father – even if you are only talking about them.  I’m sure that you know that one day, the two of you will need to stop the silent treatment – at least as far as the kids are concerned. This is necessary for their well being and in order to be effective parents.  We so often hope that if we just fake things for the kids, then they won’t know that anything is wrong.  But, they do pick up on more than we give them credit for.  So no matter what happens with the marriage, keep an open mind when it comes to co-parenting.  Because presenting a united front as parents is one of the best gifts that you can give your child.

But as far as talking about your marriage, there is no time table for this.  Sometimes, it takes a while before you feel that you are ready to have any meaningful conversations.  Eventually though, you will want to.  Because even if you don’t want to save your marriage and you want to eventually divorce, you want to resolve this relationship in a healthy way so that the pain does not linger on, or even worse, follows you to your next relationship.  You deserve to be happy.  But it is hard to do that when you’re carrying the baggage of this pain around forever.

And the silent treatment is probably not the most effective strategy to rid yourself of the pain.  Most of us want our husbands to feel sorry and remorseful – even if we aren’t sure about our marriages anymore. The silent treatment usually makes him feel less sorry, not more.   And he can only guess at your point of view or at your feelings.  But all of these things can be saved for later, if necessary.

And you may just naturally get to the point where you get tired of giving the silent treatment and not having the conversation that you probably need to have in order to move forward.  But I certainly don’t think that you have to force yourself to talk if you are not ready.  I don’t think that you have to rush it. To keep your husband from pushing you, I’d suggest something like: “I realize that we will eventually need to talk, but I’m just not ready for that yet.  And I am asking you to respect that.  I’m more than willing to discuss things that need to be talked about regarding the kids.  But I am not ready to talk about the affair or our marriage yet.  I know that in time we will need to have those conversations.  But now is not that time, at least for me.  I will let you know when I am ready.  But right now, I’m just asking you to respect my wishes.”

You will likely know when the time is right.  One of the first things that you learn during this process is that no one else can – or should – make these decisions for you.  Others’ judgements really should not matter. This is your life. And your pace.  So you get to decide when you are ready to move on to the next step.

I remember that there were some days right after my husband’s affair that very little communication happened between us.  He even stayed away for a while because I was so very angry.  This silence and anger could not sustain itself forever.  And eventually, we started communicating – although it was strained and difficult.   But we got better at it in time.  And we also eventually reconciled.  That was the right choice for me, but it took a long time to get there and it is not for everyone.  You can read more about this 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/

My Husband Wants My Trust After His Affair. But He Seems Unwilling To Try And Earn It First

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s common sense that one of the biggest issues that you have to contend with after your spouse has an affair is trust.  Even if both of you truly want to save your marriage and come out of this OK, it seems that the trust is always staring you in the face and causing trouble.

And, this is understandable.  After all, most of us trusted our spouses before we found out about the affair and we had our hearts broken as a result.  We may have vowed to never be blindsided in this way again. And so we are always on our guard.  We are always watching and we are always waiting to catch him doing something wrong again.   Of course, most husbands can understand the scrutiny, but that doesn’t mean that they like it.  And they will often try to get you to drop it before you are ready to, leaving a wife to wonder how to proceed when the trust is still a huge struggle.

She might explain: “my husband cheated on me when I was distracted caring for an ill parent who was in the hospital.  I know that this was a stressful time for our family.  But it was not a picnic for me either.  I knew I had responsibilities to my family, but I was being pulled in several different directions.  I did the best that I could.  So of course when I find out that my husband has been cheating on me, it is shocking and devastating.  Of course I take everything my husband says with a grain of salt.  I did not immediately file for divorce. I am willing to see what might happen between us.  I am open to the idea of saving our marriage.  But I am also guarded about this.  I am constantly suspicious of my husband. If he works late, I assume he is cheating on me again.  The other day, he was very late and he texted me that he had a flat tire and I assumed that he was lying.  I was furious.  But then I drove by his office thinking his car wouldn’t even be there and indeed he was stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire.  I could have come to help him, but I was too busy thinking that he was lying. So I did stop the car and apologize to him.  His reply was: ‘you have got to start trusting me.’  I don’t see why.  It’s only been a couple of months.  And I have asked him to earn my trust by calling to check in and by going to counseling, but he seems to resist both.  He acts as if I have to take the first step by trusting him, but I think that it is the other way around.  I think that the first step is his being accountable and proactive so that he EARNS my trust back.  Who is right?”

I definitely think that your logic is correct.  And as a wife who has been cheated on, I completely understand how hard it is to give him the benefit of the doubt when you’ve been so badly burned.  He’s asking you to go against your better judgement and against human nature.  And it can be difficult to do this when you are trying to protect your heart.

With that said, I did learn that there has to be a compromise with this.  Because if you are constantly guarded and looking for problems, it is going to create even more tension in an already tense situation.  And it is hard enough to try to save your marriage without both of you feeling angry and suspicious.  I am by no means saying that you have to blindly trust him.  I don’t think that you do.  That’s an almost impossible task when the affair is so fresh. I do think that at some point, assuming that he’s been completely truthful and forthcoming, you have to give him some benefit of the doubt unless and until he gives you a reason not to.

No one says that you need to do this right away or immediately.  And if he is impatient about this, then there is nothing wrong with spelling out what needs to happen in order to speed this process.  This allows both of you to be on the same page and you might both get what you want more quickly.  You might try: “I’m willing to try to not assume the worst if you are willing to be more accountable and more proactive toward our healing.  I need to hear from you as soon as you know that you will be late.  I need for you to show me that you are serious about our marriage by going to counseling.  I will not be able to blindly trust you again until we heal.  And that is going to take a while.  But I think that counseling will make it happen faster.  And you’re being open and not secretive will also reassure me that you don’t have anything to hide.  If you show me your sincerity by doing these things, then I will try to not assume the worst.  Can we agree on that?”

Hopefully, he will agree.  Honestly, his wanting your trust sooner rather than later is natural.  And your not wanting to give it is also natural.  It doesn’t mean that he’s a bad person.  But it does take quite a while for the trust to be restored.  Perhaps the counselor can make this clear to your husband so that he no longer thinks that you are just punishing him.  A lot of healing has to take place before many wives are able to lower their guard. Asking for this too soon is, in my opinion, asking too much.  At the same time, you can understand how badly your husband felt on the side of the road knowing that his wife didn’t believe him, which is why it’s always important to try to meet in the middle when you can.

Believe me, I know that some days this is easier said than done.  I didn’t trust my husband for a second for months after his affair.  But as we healed, I let go some.  And he showed me his sincerity over time.  Because of both of these things, it felt safe to trust again.  And he has never made me regret it. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Husband Says He Does Not Think About His Affair Anymore. How Is This Possible?

by: katie lersch: Many women who contact me confess that they often wonder just how much their husband thinks about the other woman once the affair is over.  Many husbands will downplay this or deny that he ever thinks about her.  And many of the wives have a very hard time believing this.

I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “the other day my husband had a far away look on his face.  He was distant and a million miles away.  I suspected that he was thinking about the woman with whom he recently had an affair.  But when I confronted him about this, he said that not only was he not thinking about her at that time, but that he never thinks about her anymore at all.  This just hit me the wrong way because I felt like he had to be lying.  And if he wasn’t lying, what does it say about him that he can have a physical relationship with someone and just walk away without a backward glance?  Is it even possible for a husband not to think about the other woman?  Because I have to admit that I still think about her quite a lot.  I can’t help it.  The thoughts and images just pop into my head, even when I don’t welcome them.  How is the same not true for him?”  I will address these concerns in the following article.

Is A Husband Lying When He Claims He Never Thinks About The Other Woman Or The Affair?  Is This Even Possible? These are difficult questions because it’s impossible for anyone to get inside the mind of the heart of another person.  I can tell you that some (but certainly not all) men will try to downplay the affair or the other person because they are trying to spare you pain and they truly do want to save their marriage.

So, they aren’t going to share any thoughts that they fear might make this less likely.  And, they know that if they admit to still thinking about the other woman or the relationship from time to time (even if it’s not even in a wistful or positive way,) this is going to hurt you or bring about more issues for you.  So, they figure it’s best to keep their thoughts to themselves, especially if those thoughts don’t really matter to them and aren’t going to help their cause.

With that said, many men will tell you that the affair was an impulsive act that truly didn’t have many emotional ramifications for them.  Even though literature and statistics will suggest that men cheat for at least partly emotional reasons (and I agree with this,) many of those same men will deny that this was the case for them.  They’ll tell you that this was just a short term thing that happened while they weren’t thinking clearly, that they now deeply regret it, and that they are perfectly willing and able to move on without a lot of emotional baggage or thought.

And although I am not and would never defend a man who cheats, I do believe that many men who make these declarations do believe what they say.  Because if you dig a little deeper and speak at length about this, it can become clear that, were it not for their wife constantly bringing the affair and the other woman up, they could merely walk away quite easily. They’ll tell you this is because they don’t forge the emotional attachments that wives fear the most.

I often hear comments like: “my wife is always asking me if I still think about the affair.  Honestly, if she wouldn’t constantly bring it up, I don’t think I’d ponder it much at all.  It’s in the past and I see no reason at all to keep dwelling on it all of the time.  But my wife can’t seem to let it go.  She’s constantly asking me about what I’m thinking and how I feel. She can’t or won’t just drop it.  How can we move on when she’s constantly picking at the scab that is trying to heal? She thinks I’m lying when I tell her I don’t think about it.  I guess that is not entirely untrue, but, if I think about it at all, it’s because she constantly brings it up.  It’s like she wants to think that this other person and I shared this great love affair that will never end when nothing is further from the truth.  I could go my entire life without needing to contact or think or this person again but my wife won’t let it rest.”

Now, whether comments like this are entirely true or not, these are the type of things that I often hear. The husband will insist that he rarely longs for (and much less thinks about) the other woman, but his wife just won’t let it rest and is constantly bringing the topic back to the affair so that it’s impossible not to think about it.

How To Handle It When You Wonder Whether Your Husband Continues To Think About The Affair: It’s totally natural and understandable to wonder where your husband’s thoughts and loyalties lie.  It’s challenging to save your marriage or to move on when you’re worried that he would rather be with someone else or that someone else has taken up residence in his mind. But, when you truly can’t know what he’s thinking or feeling, does it make sense to keep bringing his attention back to that person who you want him to completely distance himself and his thoughts from?

Often, without even realizing that we are doing it, we allow the fear inside us to drive our actions and our decisions.  The thing that we most fear is for our husbands to still think about (or long for) this other woman.  Yet, by continuing to bring her up, ask about her, or demand that our husband define exactly how much he is thinking about or feeling for her, we keep allowing her presence into our lives.  I know that you really want and need to know the truth about whether he continues to think about the affair, but sometimes if you back off of this topic and focus on your marriage and your healing instead, you will make it more likely that you will get the answer that you really want.

I know that dealing with these doubts can be very challenging and painful, but plowing through can truly be worth it. 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. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is in tact. 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/

What Has To Happen In A Marriage In Order To Justify An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s not unusual to hear from people who are wondering if there is any way to look at a marriage and cite the shape of the marriage as justification for an affair.  Sometimes, it is the cheating spouse who is looking for this justification.  And sometimes, it is the faithful spouse wondering if there is any possible justification for their spouse’s cheating.  Because often, the cheating spouse will try to make the faithful spouse feel as if they had some contributing part in the affair.

For example, from the cheating spouse, you might hear: “I am not going to say that it is not wrong to cheat.  I know that it is.  But I also think that there are times where it might be at least somewhat justified.  Since my wife had kids, she has completely changed.  She is not interested in anything but topics that relate to toddlers.  As soon as I get home, I am greeted by a wife that talks in a babyish tone about nothing but parenting topics.  I love my kids, but it gets old.  Then she rarely wants to have sex.  And when we do, it’s not great. I would never leave my wife.  I would never dessert my family.  But she almost gave me no choice but to have my needs met elsewhere.  When I tell her this, she gets extremely furious.  She acts like I should not dare to offer up any justification for cheating on her.  I know that I was wrong to cheat.  But I was never going to leave my family.  And I felt like she almost gave me no choice.  I wish that someone would see my point.”

And if you were to hear from the wife in that situation, she would probably say something like: “my husband is trying to justify himself for cheating by essentially blaming me for his actions. He is saying that our marriage had turned cold and that I only paid attention to our kids and not him.  He said that I was only a mother and not a wife.  He said that he would never leave me, as though that’s supposed to make it better.  He acts as if since his intention was never to leave our family, I should just welcome him back into the fold.  But I can not bring myself to do this.  Because I do not buy his justifications.  I am not going to tell you that our marriage was unbelievable or even great.  But you don’t see me going outside of my marriage.  I get tired of being around toddlers, too.  But I would never feel justified in going outside of my marriage, even though I could.  Is there ever any situation in a marriage where an affair could be justified?”

Honestly, I am probably the wrong person to ask.  As someone who has been through an affair and because the correspondence that I get outlines the painful and sometimes devastating aftermath an affair, I have a very hard time ever finding any justification. I certainly don’t deny that there are plenty of challenged marriages in the world.  I could even see wanting to cheat or being tempted to do so.  But in those cases, I think that you should tell your spouse what is happening and make adjustments rather than just cheating. I think the difference is that you might be tempted, but you stop short of cheating on your spouse.

I do know that there are situations where people have open marriages and both people are in agreement that theirs will not be a faithful marriage.  I could not have this type of marriage personally.  But if both people are at peace and happy with this decision, at least no one is being dishonest and is going behind the other person’s back.

But when you do go behind your spouse’s back, you are being secretive and you are betraying the very person to whom you always promised to be true.  To me, that is cheating both your spouse and yourself.  And if I’m being honest, my answer about cheating being justified is that it’s justified only if you and your spouse are actually not married anymore.  Sometimes, when married people tell me that they’ve met the perfect person that they just have to have, then my inclination is that it’s not the right thing to do until you’ve left your marriage.  Most of the time, they aren’t willing to do that.  They aren’t willing to leave their marriage and THEN pursue the other person.  Because the person isn’t so “perfect” after all.  They want to keep the marriage, but they want to have the other person also.

Frankly, I just can’t see any justification in that.  I think that in order to keep your integrity, you need to approach your spouse when your marriage isn’t satisfactory.  Just being unhappy in your marriage shouldn’t give you permission or justification to cheat.  Honestly, many married people do not want to end their marriages because they aren’t technically THAT unhappy.  They want to have the other relationship to feel better about themselves or about their situations, but not many are willing to leave their families.  Instead, they are willing to put their family at risk, and then they hope that no one finds out.  And I just can’t see any justification for that.  Your children didn’t ask for that.  Your spouse didn’t ask for that.  At least give your spouse the chance to try to improve the situation before you take such a risk where your family is concerned.

I know that this may seem harsh or that I may seem a bit heavy-handed.  But I have seen and felt the devastation that an affair causes. And when it was all over, my husband wanted his family back.  So what was the point anyway?  Why all that devastation when he ultimately wanted to stay?  It seems like such a waste and I can’t see any justification in it. Yes, we reconciled and recovered. Things are great now.  But still, it was painful at the time and it was unnecessary.  You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Why Would My Husband Cheat But Then Want To Stay In The Marriage?

by: katie lersch:  I’ve had people tell me that there are two camps of cheaters, as follows:

1. those who want out of their relationship (or are not fully invested in it) and therefore don’t care if they get caught; and

2. those who hope and pray that they never get caught because they are still very much invested in their relationship or marriage and in love with their spouse or partner.

Many people have a very hard time understanding why anyone would cheat or have an affair when they are still invested in their marriage.  It just seems to be a silly and risky thing to do.

I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “I found out three days ago that my husband has been cheating and having an affair with one of our neighbors.  When he confessed to me, I fully expected him to tell me that he wanted a divorce and was getting ready to pack his bags.  But this isn’t what happened.  Instead, he said that he wanted to be honest with me because he wanted to save our marriage.  This just makes no sense to me.  Why would you cheat on someone to whom you wanted to remain married? My husband knows me pretty well.  He has watched me support many friends whose marriages were destroyed by infidelity and he knows that I have no tolerance for it.  So, when he was cheating, he must have known that once I found out, there was a chance that I would leave him.  And yet, here he is confessing but telling me that he wants to stay in the marriage rather than leave it.  Can you explain the thinking behind this?  Because I just don’t understand why a person who wants to stay in the marriage would risk that same marriage by cheating.”

In the following article, I’m going to try to explain what might motivate a person to cheat even when they fully intend to remain married.

Many People Who Cheat Never Intend To Get Caught And Intend For The Unplanned Cheating To Be A Very Short Lived Affair: Before I get into the reasons for cheating and then wanting to stay married, I have to tell you that you may not fully buy what I’m about to tell you.  I completely understand that because, as a woman who has been cheated on,  I don’t always buy what men tell me either.  It is very hard for to understand a thought process that would never be mine.

With that said, many people who cheat will tell you that they didn’t go into it with any intention of being unfaithful.  You will often first hear about a friendship developing and then you’ll hear phrases like “it just happened.”  Whether this is true or not, most people overwhelmingly make this claim.  And then they will say that once the unintentional cheating happened, they told themselves that it was a one time or short term thing.  They planned to stop it before any one was hurt.  Of course, sometimes it ends up lasting for longer than they originally anticipated.

Still, many people end up realizing that they have made a very huge mistake about which they feel an awful lot of guilt.  They often realize that they have taken a huge risk with the relationship that is most important to them.  This is why many of them confess or at least own up to what they’ve done once they have been caught. They suddenly realize that they don’t want to surrender their marriage and they are hoping that either their confession or their remorse is going to at least give them a chance to maintain or save their marriage.

Suspicions You Might Have About Their Claim That They Want To Stay In The Marriage: Many faithful spouses meet the cheating spouse’s claims with a good deal of suspicion.  People often tell me they fear that their spouse is just claiming that he wants to save the marriage because he knows that a divorce would end up costing him a lot of money or would risk him loosing some access to his children.

I also hear from a lot of doubtful but faithful spouses who suspect that their spouse just doesn’t have the courage or integrity to tell the truth about his feelings.  Or, they worry that he wants to keep the cheating or the affair hidden from his extended friends or family and hopes that by staying in the marriage, his secret won’t get out.  These are absolutely valid concerns.  Dealing with the cheating is very painful.  But dealing with the cheating while trying to save your marriage only to find out later it was all for nothing is nearly unbearable.

However, the problem often is that there is no way to know what is actually true until you see it through.  You can’t read your spouses thoughts.  You can’t possibly know exactly what they are feeling.  So the only way to truly know their real intentions is to wait it out and see if their actions confirm their words.  Because if he’s not being truthful about his commitment to the marriage, then that will become apparent soon enough.   It’s very unlikely that he can keep up the facade for long if his heart isn’t truly in it.

And, his is not the only opinion that matters.  You also will need to decide if you want to stay in the marriage.  The decisions about your marriage are not his alone to make.  You have a say.  And you have your own set of wishes and intentions.  Sometimes, his wanting to stay in the marriage is not going to be enough.  You have to want it too.  And you both have to be willing to do the work to repair the marriage and to restore the trust.   Both of these things truly are possible.  But in order for that to happen both people need to be absolutely sincere about their feelings and intentions.

If you had told me that I would ultimately save my marriage after my husband’s affair, I might have laughed at that notion at the time.  But that is exactly what ended up happening.  I had my doubts about my husband’s sincerity when he claimed he wanted to stay in the marriage, but his actions proved my doubts were unfounded.  And today, I’m glad I gave him the opportunity to prove to me that his claims were true.  If it helps, you can read more about my recovery process 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 Admits He Wants To Come Back After The Affair, But Says He Won’t Beg. Why?

By: Katie Lersch:  Many wives not only have to deal with the fact that their husband is having (or has had) an affair, but they also have to deal with the fact that he leaves the home for a while.  The wife may have wanted him to go, or he may have left all on his own.  This leaves her with the challenge of explaining to friends and family where he is, while she is also struggling to process what has happened and attempting to determine her feelings about the same.

The wife may start out never wanting to see him again because of her understandable anger, but then something changes or perceptions shift and both parties may eventually become open to communicating or to keeping in touch again.  In time, the topic of coming back home might come up, but both people might feel some reluctance.  The husband might express this reluctance by acting as if he isn’t sure if he wants to come home or by declaring that he’s not going to beg for the same.

Someone might explain: “my husband has not lived with me for about six weeks because I caught him cheating.  I can’t say that I threw him out because this is not exactly accurate.  I of course was furious with him and then he got all defensive and we were just at each other’s throats, so we both felt it best that he leave.  He claims that he didn’t see or stay with the other woman during this time, but I have no way to know if this is true or not.  Over the last two weeks, we have gone out a couple of times.  He has acted sweet and I’ve started to wonder if it might one day be possible to save our marriage.  I was shocked last night when he admitted that he really, really wanted to come home.  I told him that this was something that I would need to think on for a while. And then, to my surprise, he muttered ‘well, I’m certainly not going to beg, if this is what you are waiting for.’  I was kind of shocked. And frankly, a little confused.  I wasn’t wanting him to beg .  But honestly, if I did want that, why should he get defensive?  He cheated on me, so what if he has to beg?  Wouldn’t that be justified?  Why does he have to harp on the fact that he isn’t going to beg?”

I suspect that he is trying to set the tone before he comes back.  A good deal of men worry about how they are going to be treated when they return home.  They worry that you are going to always hold the affair over their head or make them grovel for your affection and approval.

So, as much as they might want to come home, they also don’t want to come home and be belittled, shamed, and made to feel like a lowlife.  (This is their perceptions, not mine.  I’m certainly not defending cheating husbands.) This fear of being treated badly is why they will try to set the stage ahead of time.  When he said that he wasn’t going to beg, he was likely hoping that you would respond with something like: “I’m not asking you to beg because I want you to come home just as much as you want to come home.”

In short, they want to feel like there’s a possibility that they might eventually be forgiven instead of repeatedly punished.  We’ve all known situations where the wife always holds the affair over her husband’s head for the rest of their lives.  Even years later, he is constantly being reminded about his mistake no matter what he has done to make amends.

I think this might be your husband’s fear and what he is trying to avoid with his words and with his posturing.  You could always try to have a discussion about it if you think that it might help.  Here is a suggestion. (But of course, you know your husband better than I do:) “I don’t recall asking you to beg.  We are both adults.  We can both decide if we want to live together once again without either of us needing to stoop to unfortunate levels.  Your coming home should be a joint decision that we both undertake willingly.  We are just starting this process and there is a lot of work to be done. It’s very early to start having misunderstandings about this.  If we both decide that it’s best for you to come home, then we can negotiate that.  But no one mentioned begging.  And no decisions have been made.”

You’ll need to decide if you truly think this is the right time for him to come home or if you want to get a little healing under your belt first.  Some people decide that it’s easier to live under one roof when healing their marriage and others feel that it’s better to wait until the marriage is healed before you live together again.  I chose to live with my husband because of our kids and because I knew that if we lived apart, I would worry about wrongdoing and have issues with trust.  Frankly, I wanted to keep an eye on things. Plus I knew that it would be easier to get counseling this way.  But you have to evaluate if you are truly ready for that. You can read more about my recovery 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

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