What Are Reasons That A Man Hesitates Or Refuses To Leave His Family For An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  Sometimes, I hear from women who are either still actively in a relationship with a married man (or who were in a relationship that has just ended because the married man / husband broke it off.)  Some of the time, these women have the goal of stepping up the relationship so that the husband leaves his family to focus on the affair.  Often, this strategy backfires when he ends the affair instead.  In essence, the “other woman” gives the husband an ultimatum of sorts – his family or her.  And he picks his family.  But she can’t understand why.  I hear from some of these women with comments like: “I can’t pretend that I didn’t know the guy that I love was married.  I did know that.  He did not lie or hide it.  But he made it seem as if his marriage was in trouble.  And he would talk, admittedly in vague terms, about his children being grown and us eventually being together.  So I very sincerely (but probably very stupidly) thought that we would one day be together.  Well, this weekend, I thought that we were meeting for a nice dinner, but instead, before we even ordered, he told me that he was ending the affair for his family’s sake.  I was stunned.  I was heartbroken.  This man has told me that he loves me and that he can not live without me.  His children will always be his children.  That will not change.  So why would he choose his family over me?  I will never understand that because I feel like he could have both if he really wanted to.  But when I try to convince him of this, he seems hesitant.  I can tell that he would like to stay with me, but he also seems conflicted about his family.  I don’t understand this.  Why is he acting this way?”

From the tone of this, I have to assume that the person asking these questions does not have children.  Because I suspect that if she did, she may understand this dynamic a little better.  I have no idea how the husband felt about the other woman.  Sometimes, the husband feigns feelings that may not entirely be there in order to carry out the affair.  Sometimes, he may have feelings, but for many people, the feelings that they have for their children trump all.   This is why people who try to blend families in their second marriages can struggle greatly.  Most parents’ allegiance is going to go toward their own child.  It is just human nature.  Most parents would do absolutely anything for the well being of their children.

And frankly, you can’t blame someone for this.  It is a parent’s duty to want the very best for their child.  A broken home is usually not considered to be the best.   Many men in affairs actually DO have feelings for their wife and for the mother of their child – even if they try to downplay those feelings for the benefit of the affair.  And so when those relationships are threatened or at risk, many married men will end the affair to end that risk (or to at least see if they can save the marriage.)  They feel that they owe that to their family.  And at least some of them have been continuing to carry out their marriage (and the sex / intimacy that goes with it) with their wife at the same time that the affair was happening. ( This is true regardless of what they have claimed to the other woman.)

I know that this is hard to hear if you are the other woman.  But it might be reassuring to hear if you are the wife.  In my experience and observation, very few married men who have affairs ever intend to abandon their families or to leave their marriage.  They convince themselves that this will be a short-term thing that they can end at a convenient time so that no one finds out.  Sometimes the wife does find out, and sometimes the husband becomes paranoid or careless and starts to worry about his wife finding out.  And this is when he will end the affair and start to turn his attention toward his family.  He will often cling tightly to his family at this time because he realizes what he has put at risk.

Sometimes, the other woman asks me what they can say or do to change his mind.  Frankly, he is often very motivated to save his family.  And I’m not sure why these women strive to break apart families.  Yes, it was not great behavior by the married man to cheat.  And yes, he likely mislead her and it hurts to be lied to in this way.  I can understand why she is upset.  At the same time, she knowingly began a relationship with a married man.  So she knew that there was someone else in the picture.  Perhaps she wanted to believe what he claimed and she wanted to believe that he didn’t love his wife anymore.  But if that was the case, wouldn’t he already be separated or divorced?  If I could tell women considering an affair one thing, it would be to wait to start a relationship until the man is single.  If his marriage is truly that bad, he will be in the process of pursuing a divorce or he will have already gotten one.  Only then is it a good idea to start a relationship.  If he is still married, then there is a good chance that he will stay married.  All you have to do is look at the statistics to believe that.

Not all men maintain their marriage after an affair.  (Some of their wives divorce them or have no interest in saving the marriage.  And a small percentage of men do leave their marriage for the affair.)  But statistics show you that this is the exception and not the rule.  Most people try to work it out, particularly if there are children.  For most men, no woman and no affair is more important than their families, although that is not true in every case.

I do have to give my husband credit – he was very clear early on that his family was much more important to him than the affair.  He did not hesitate to give it up.  And then he worked pretty hard to restore my trust – although we hit plenty of rough patches.  I have never regretted maintaining my family.  As a child of divorce, I would have had a very hard time walking away.  But I didn’t always share this with my husband.  There’s more about this on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

I Know My Husband Had Very Strong Feelings For The Other Woman But He Won’t Admit It. What Can I Do?

By: Katie Lersch:  It is every faithful spouse’s worst fear – that her husband is actually and truly in love with the other woman. Some husbands are quite honest about this and they proclaim their love very matter of factly.  Others try to deny it – either because they believe what they are saying or they are trying to not to hurt their wives.

Some wives suspect that their husband has strong feelings for the other woman regardless of what he claims.  Some wives do their own detective work and come to this conclusion and others have the other woman telling all about the relationship.  Many worry about what these feelings are going to mean for their marriage.  And this is even more difficult when your husband denies the feelings because you wonder how you are going to deal with this if he won’t even admit the truth.

A wife might have this issue: “the other woman told me about the affair.  If she had not come forward, I might sill not know about it.  My husband tried to deny it at first, but the other woman gave me letters in my husband’s handwriting that were obvious proof, so he finally had to admit it. The problem I have now is that my husband is trying to claim that he really didn’t care for the other woman and he’s perfectly fine with ending the relationship now.  I know that this isn’t true because I have those letters.  Plus, he is moping around here like he lost a limb.  He’s clearly miserable without her.  He says he was only saying what he thought she wanted to hear in the letters and he is moping around because he’s so ashamed of himself.  I asked the other woman about his claims and she says that he is in denial.  She says that he told her that he loved her all of the time. So I feel pretty sure that my husband was and is in love with this woman. But he firmly denies it and he gets mad when I mention it.  Both my husband and the other woman say that the relationship is over.  But I just can not move on until he admits the truth to me.”

Understand That The Husband And Other Woman Have Very Different Motivations: I understand wanting and needing the truth.  But please allow me to point out some things that you may be missing because you are so close to the situation.  The other woman may have her own agenda for painting a picture of love that may be only based on her own point of view.  I am not denying that your husband may have had feelings for her, but he may have seen his feelings very differently than she did.

What “other woman” doesn’t want to believe that the man she is cheating with truly loves her and thinks she is special?  This makes it easier to justify her cheating and of course, it strokes her ego.  So, naturally, she wants to believe that they were deeply in love.

And your husband has his reasons for wanting to downplay those feelings.  He knows that it is over.  And he’s said that he wants to be with you.  What good is it to dwell on the feelings which may or may not have been there?

I understand that you want and deserve the truth. But it is going to be much easier for him to tell you the truth once a little bit of time has passed and things calm down.

Where You Place Your Attention Is Very Important: Right now, it is possible you are devoting too much attention to his feelings for HER when you should be devoting his attention to his feelings for YOU.  It would be different if he wasn’t willing to give her up or the relationship was ongoing.  But even the other woman admits that it is over.  So now, assuming that you are open to saving your marriage, the attention should turn to the feelings between you and your husband.  There should no longer be any place in your lives for the other woman.

If you like, you can explore those feelings once healing has truly begun but right now, things are too fresh and your husband is invested in continuing with his version of things.  He may even completely believe he’s telling you the truth and so he isn’t likely to suddenly change his version of what he believes is the truth because you want him to.

Right now, what matters is what the two of you decide going forward and not what happened in the past.  At least for right now. Because if you consistently focus on the past, then you are more likely to stay there. But if you want to put this behind you and move toward the future, then that is where you must place your focus.

I understand needing to know the truth, but your husband may believe that he has already given you the truth as he knows it. And you may more success getting this through counseling.  Professionals are usually pretty skilled at cutting to the heart of the matter but they can also help you both to deal with it once it comes out.

For now though, I’d place my focus on the two of you and what you want.  As long as the relationship is over, dwelling on the past doesn’t propel you forward. I understand where your head is though.  I used to drive myself crazy wondering about the dynamic between my husband and the other woman.  But it did no good.  And I eventually taught myself to stop.   You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Husband Doesn’t Want To Hear About My Feelings Regarding His Infidelity

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are frustrated because they want their husband to sit down, face them, and then attentively listen as they share their feelings about his infidelity, cheating, or affair. They want to release these feelings and they know that he is the most logical person who should listen. They also hope that his understanding of their feelings will help them to heal their marriage and may also help him avoid cheating again.

Unfortunately, husbands don’t always see this issue in the same way. I heard from a wife who said: “I really want my husband to listen to me when I express my feelings about his affair. I have a lot of anger that he is going to need to address. But I have even more pain. And I want him to hear me out so that he will understand just how much this has hurt me. But if I even start to talk about my feelings, he will try to change the subject. Sometimes, if that doesn’t work he will abruptly get up and leave and make a comment like ‘I don’t want to talk about this anymore.’ And he just leaves me sitting there as if I’m the one who has done something wrong. I am so close to leaving him. If he doesn’t respect me enough to listen to my feelings, then I don’t know how I can even stay married to him. How can I get him to listen to me?”

This is such a common concern. Because what wives want more than just about anything after infidelity is to feel heard. They want to know that their husband understands how deeply his infidelity has wounded them and they want to know that because of this understanding, he is more likely to be remorseful and less likely to cheat again. But if he won’t even listen to the message, then this whole process can be much more difficult than it needs to be. In the following article, I’ll try to offer some tips on how to talk about your feelings so that your husband will listen.

Understand How It Sounds To His Ears: Please understand that I am not defending your husband or any man who cheats. However, I do suspect that I know why many men don’t want to listen to your feelings right now. I know this because many of them comment on my blog and offer various reasons why they tune their wives out or refuse to even talk about their infidelity.

First off, think about it this way. Let’s say you make the worst, most shameful mistake imaginable and the thought of your actions brought you a lot of pain and embarrassment. You’d probably want to move on as soon as possible and try not to think about it excessively since every time you did, you’d have to admit your actions to yourself once again and this would bring you fresh pain.

Now imagine that your spouse wanted to bring up your mistake often. And that your spouse wants you to listen as you recount how much your mistake has cost them. Even though you may well know that your spouse was justified in wanting explanations and your undivided attention as they released their feelings, you may not be very enthusiastic about this because rehashing your actions is so painful or embarrassing to you.

I’m sure you see where I’m going here. I am not trying to justify your husband tuning you out. I’m just telling you that often husbands “don’t want to hear it” when you bring up your feelings about their infidelity because hearing about your pain causes them additional pain. And frankly, pain avoidance is a contributing factor to a man cheating in the first place.

Men often tell me that seeing their wife’s pain is the worst fall out that they can imagine. They would rather you scream and yell at them than to see the quiet disappointment in your eyes. And this is sometimes why they want to avoid those serious discussions about your feelings. Does this mean that you shouldn’t push him to listen? Absolutely not. But you can use this knowledge to frame your message so that it is more likely to be heard.

Try To Get Him To Accept A Mediator: Frankly, I know that when I bring up counseling, many husbands are going to tune me out. But if you can get him to go to even one session, then you will likely give him no choice but to listen to what you have to say. (And you will have to do the same for him.) This makes you look less like the bad guy and can make the process a bit easier.

If He Won’t Go To Counseling, Choose Your Words Carefully: Many men are as excited about counseling as they are in listening to your feelings. Sometimes, you have to ease into this so they can see that you’re not out of punish them on a daily basis. So, when you are trying to lead up to this conversation, try to be careful about the words and the tone that you use.

The next time this wife’s husband shut her down or told her that he didn’t want to talk about his infidelity, she might respond with something like: “OK, I get that you don’t want to talk about it right now. Let’s agree on a time where we can talk about it. I’m going to need about twenty minutes of your time. I need to get some things off my chest and I need for you to understand how I feel. It’s not my intention to insult, belittle, or punish you. But I really need to feel heard in order for us to begin to heal our marriage. Not only that, but if you really listen to me, and I feel heard, I won’t have to keep repeating myself and you may feel less attacked as the result. I think if you would agree to hear me out, you might be pleasantly surprised at the results. So, when is good for you?”

I know that you might be thinking this dialog has a lot of restraint, and you’d be right. But sometimes, you have to use restraint if you are going to get him to really listen. And that really is the goal, right? To have him sit down and give you his undivided attention when you have your say? Usually, if you phrase it correctly, he will agree. And when he does, you have to do your part and express your feelings without attacking or insulting him. Because if he feels attacked, he won’t be nearly as willing to listen again. But if it goes well, you will find that he’s not nearly as afraid because the outcome is not only about causing him more pain and shame.

I had a hard time getting my husband to listen to me immediately after his affair.  The process just took time.  But when he began to believe that I wasn’t going to attack him during every conversation, things improved and we eventually saved our marriage.  If it helps, you can read about our recovery process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Husband Is Trying To Make Amends For His Affair, But It’s So Hard To Trust Him

By: Katie Lersch:  I hear from a alot of wives who are dealing with the frustration of a husband who just isn’t trying hard enough to make up for the affair.  So when I hear from someone who has a husband who IS trying, but who is still struggling,  I understand how difficult this might be.  I know exactly how this feels. You can often see the effort that he is making.  And you can’t fault that effort.  So you believe that you should put forth some effort, too.  That’s only fair. And good faith is very important.  But when you try to put forth that effort, you find yourself having a hard time trusting him or believing in him.

Someone might say: “I do have to honestly say that I 100% believe that my husband is trying to make amends after his affair.  He does everything that I ask.  He comes right home from work.  He compliments me and tries to make my life easier.  He offers to watch the kids while I go out with friends.  He has agreed to counseling, although we have just gotten started.  He is patient when I get angry with him and when I keep asking questions about the affair.  In short, I can’t really criticize how he has been acting.  He does appear to be a man who is trying to make things right.  And I am encouraged by that.  So I try to make myself have some optimism about my marriage and I try to return his kindness. But I find myself not exactly trusting in him or believing in him.  And I think that there are a couple of reasons for this.  First of all, my husband is in sales and therefore is very convincing of anything that he tries to float by you.  People say that my husband could sell ice water in a desert and sometimes I think that is what he is doing here.  The second thing that makes me reluctant is that my husband was being sweet, upbeat, and loving when he was carrying on the affair.  If friends had not seen him with the other woman, I would not have known or found out.  So there were no warning signs or weird behaviors.  He was his normal self while cheating, which makes me think that he could be continuing to cheat and I would have no idea. So this makes me doubt myself and makes me question if I can trust him.  This is all very problematic because he will try to be sweet to me and initiate affection and I find myself pulling away. I don’t want to.  But I guess my doubt and lack of trust is making me back off.  Will I ever feel that I can trust him? Or will I always have my guard up?”

In my experience, you can, in time, feel that you can trust him again.  But the key words here are “in time.”  There is just no way around that.  You have understandable doubts.  If you didn’t, you would be ignoring reality.  The only way that I am aware of to quell those doubts is to do the work and then wait to see if your husband proves himself to be trustworthy over time.  Yes, he can tell you that he will not cheat again.  Yes, his behavior can indicate that he doesn’t intend to cheat on you again.  But nothing is as reassuring as to look back (over a long period of time) and to realize that he has PROVEN that he will not cheat again and therefore, it is safe to trust him.

Now, while you are waiting for this peace of mind, you do not have to live in complete fear all of the time.  Unfortunately, there is no way to get a 100% guarantee that from this moment on that you can trust every one that you love and no one is ever going to disappoint you.  I sure wish that life worked this way, but it does not.  For most of us, we make a conscious choice to participate in the relationship while keeping our eyes open to what is going on around us.  Does this mean that we always try to catch him cheating and just know that this day is going to come?  Hopefully not, although we certainly can be observant, especially in the early days.

What this often means is that we take each day as it comes, we continue to attend counseling, we continue to make an effort, we are grateful for the good days, and we get through the bad days.  Many of us find that in time, the good days start to outweigh the bad days and we eventually find ourselves worrying about trust less and less.  But this process comes with time and work.  I know of no way to skip over either one.  And every time I have tried to, the doubt just came back that much stronger.

So I eventually learned to just hope for the best and to to do every thing that I could for the sake of my family, but I also kept an eye out for any behaviors that I thought were troubling.  Thankfully, I did not find any and time has now given me the reassurance that it’s safe to trust my husband again.   My husband told me that it was safe years ago, but I needed time to go by in order to see that for myself.  While I was waiting, I continued to live my life and raise my family.  Because really, what else can you do?  If your husband is doing what you have asked and you see progress, then it is worth it to wait and to have patience, at least in my opinion.

I did not completely trust my husband early in our recovery.  I always had my eyes open.  But I continued on and I gave it my best effort for the sake of my family.  As we healed, the trust returned.  So there is reassurance that you won’t always feel this doubtful.  But you need to do the work. And you need the time to heal.   There’s more about my own recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Our Relationship Is So Different After My Husband’s Affair. Will It Ever Be The Same Again?

By: Katie Lersch: Wives can feel as if they have lost many things after their husband’s affair.  Often you feel as if you’ve lost a little bit of your self esteem, your confidence in your marriage and your husband, and your belief that you are perceptive enough to know what’s going on.  Another loss that many wives describe is predictability in their relationship.  Many describe a marriage that “is just different” than the one that existed before the affair.

I often hear comments on my “surviving the affair” blog like: “we used to have such an easy rapport and relationship but now things are so strained and awkward.”  Or “our marriage used to be filled with laughter and endless conversation but now you could hear a pin drop when we’re together.  The laughter has died and in it’s place is pain and silence.”  One more example is “we used to be very affectionate to one another.  We were always touching or holding hands.  Now, we rarely touch one another anymore.  It seems like we’re both afraid of doing the wrong thing or of facing rejection.   Our marriage right now after his affair is so foreign to me.  It’s so different than the one we had before.  Will things ever be the same again?  Because I want my old life back.  I don’t like this new one at all.”  I’ll try to address these concerns in the following article.

Your Marriage May Not Be Exactly The Same After An Affair.  But, If You Rebuild, Your Marriage Can Still Be Happy, Fulfilling And Sometimes, Even Better: In my experience in dealing with my own husband’s affair, it can be unrealistic to think that you can carry on as if nothing happened or that you can turn back time to reveal the exact same marriage as before.  Despite your best efforts of your intentions, you often can’t ignore what happened.  And, this knowledge will understandably make you a bit cautious and doubtful because you’ve been hurt before.

But many marriages use these doubts and fears as motivation to make positive changes rather than to give in to the negativity that has settled in.  Yes, it’s absolutely normal to be angry or even furious that the marriage you thought you knew (or were even happy in) was not exactly what you thought it to be.  But one mistake does not mean that your entire marriage was a farce.  It doesn’t mean that you and your husband never loved one another, didn’t have a good marriage, or weren’t happy.  It simply means that, for whatever reason, you were momentarily vulnerable and unfortunately, one of the spouses acted due to that vulnerability.

Often, the real key to getting your marriage to place where it feels “normal” or similar to what you’ve experienced before is to identify that vulnerability and then to remove it.  Because if you can do this, then you can usually also begin to remove some of those doubts.  The reason for this is that you’ll then know that the reason for the affair is removed so that you don’t have to constantly worry anymore.  And, not only can this be very freeing and such a relief, but often the work that you do to remove those vulnerabilities will actually improve your marriage.

Couples often find that they are forced to be truly honest, open, and forthcoming.  They are no longer reluctant to discuss any worrisome issues with or to reach out to their spouse because they now know the danger of doing so.  Also, often an affair will show both people just how close they have come to losing their marriage or their spouse.  This is often a wake up call that isn’t other wise possible.  By no means am I saying that an affair can be a positive thing.  But, I do believe that it can bring about positive changes for your marriage if you use it to motivate you rather than allowing it to weaken your marriage to the point of no return.

Identify What You Most Miss About Your Spouse Or Your Marriage And Be Very Proactive About Getting It Back: If you’re in a situation where you’re mourning what you have lost, you don’t have to just accept that the life that you knew is gone forever or that you will never get it back.  For example, the wife in the above scenario missed the easy rapport and the continuous physical affection that she and her husband shared. Being able to identify and then to focus on these things are the first steps toward getting them back.

But rather than merely mourning this loss, be very proactive about rebuilding these aspects of your relationship.  This is hard for many people because reaching out again to someone who has betrayed or disappointed you can make you feel very vulnerable and even a little foolish.  But, unless you want to continue to live in a marriage that is missing something, you will sometimes have to step outside of your comfort zone and take a chance.  I know that sometimes when you do this, you have the sinking feeling that you’re going to be hurt again.  But if you don’t take that chance, you will never know what your marriage could have been.

Countless couples are able to create an even stronger and more open marriage after an affair because they come to learn the vulnerabilities and lacking that were present.  Addressing your issues is sometimes uncomfortable but it is often worth it because it makes you not only stronger, but more aware of your spouse’s wants and needs and just how badly it feels when you face the threat of loosing them.

I sometimes hear women say that their husband’s affair was the best thing that ever happened to them or their marriage.  I wouldn’t take it that fair.  If I had the choice, I wish my husband’s affair had never happened to us. But, at the same time, I can look back at it now and see where the work we did really did improve our marriage and make it even better in some ways than it was before.  So while our marriage isn’t technically the same, it’s actually improved in some areas and we’re pretty darn happy. My answer to the posed question would be that, although it’s unlikely that your marriage will be exactly the same, you can return it to a happy and fulfilling place.

If you would’ve told me two years ago that I would have a happy marriage again today, I would have never believed you.  My marriage went through some very dark days and there were times when I thought we would never get through it, but we did and we’re actually better off in some ways for it.  If it helps, you can read more of  my story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

What Do Men Tell Their Wives When They Get Caught Having An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from women who want to know what are typical responses and phrases from a man who has just been caught having an affair.   Some of these women are “the other woman” in the affair.  They want to know if a man will typically be truthful about his supposed “feelings” or if, once caught, is all about saving face.  Some of these women are wives who want to know if their husband’s response is typical or to be expected.

From the other woman I might hear: “I would love to know what the guy I was having a relationship with said to his wife when she caught him.  I guess I might not ever get that information because he has cut off all contact with me.  He never came out and said it, but he let me believe that his marriage was lacking.  And admittedly, he never promised me anything, but I honestly thought that one day we would be together.  Once his wife caught him, he texted me, told me it was over, and insisted that I not contact him again.  It hurts and annoys me to be dismissed in this way and I would love to know what he said to his wife.  I am almost tempted to ask her myself.”

Please do not ask her or contact her.  She is truly the innocent party in this.  As someone who dialogs with many people in this situation, I can tell you a few scenarios that may have happened, especially considering the directive that you’ve gotten to stay out of the husband’s life moving forward.  Simply put, at least in my experience and observation, the majority of the time, men caught in the affair say things meant to try to save the marriage.  Once they are caught, they realize how much they have risked.  And their words moving forward attempt to minimize the risk, which I’ll discuss a little more below.

Excuses, Reassurances, And Panic:  Assuming that the husband has already made the confession or knows that he is caught, many husbands will initially try to minimize the affair.  They will tell the wife that it was very short-lived or even a one-time thing.  They will reassure her that it was a huge mistake that didn’t mean anything and that it is over.

This doesn’t mean that every husband is falling over himself to apologize.  Some husbands are indignant or even angry.  Some will try to posture in the hopes that their wife will back off a little.  But at the end of the day and once the smoke clears, many will say words meant to try to salvage their family.  Most of them have worked too hard and have too much invested in family life to throw it all away.  Despite their risky behavior, many of them will tell you that they never went into this intending to divorce.  They never wanted to lose their family.

I know that much of the time, the other woman really hopes that the husband goes in and insists to the wife that the affair was a “special” relationship that he doesn’t want to end.  Frankly, this doesn’t often happen.  When it does, the husband usually confesses the affair rather than being caught.  When he is caught, he was trying to hide it – which means that he was trying to keep his marriage going at the same time – that same marriage that he doesn’t want to lose now.   Much of the time, a caught husband is a husband who will scramble to figure out what is necessary for his wife to give him a chance to make it right.

What many people do not consider is that he has often spent a significant amount of time building a life and a family with his wife.  He’s not always just going to turn his back on that, allow his kids to grow up without a father, and take a huge hit financially.  I mean, some men might be willing to do this in order to stay with the other woman.  But in my experience, the vast majority do not.

Instead, they are telling their wives that the affair was an anomaly that will never happen again.  He is promising that he will cut off all contact and will place all of his focus on his family while trying to heal every one involved.  That could be why he’s told you that he wants no further contact.  He is trying to do the right thing and he is trying to make good on the promises that he likely gave to his wife.

However, these are just words.  The real test comes in the weeks and months ahead.  Because wives watch very, very closely in order to make sure that his actions match his words.  Of course, saying the right words are reassuring and nice.  But if the words are not followed up with action, they are pointless and empty.  But men who are truly motivated to save their marriages usually try to follow up their words with action.

I know that this may be a bit confusing.  But it is my observation that most husbands don’t intend or want to lose their marriages.  Whether or not the wife agrees to this is up to the wife.  But despite the fact that there is a perception that cheating husbands want to leave their marriage, many do not.  If it helps, you can read about how I dealt with this situation on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Can I Get Over My Husband’s Affair Once And For All?

By: katie lersch: If you’re Googling and researching phrases like “how to survive an affair,” “how to forgive my husband’s affair,” “how to get past an affair,” etc., then I can certainly identify and empathize with you and hope that I can help. My husband had an affair several years ago and at that time, I thought my world was ending and could not see past it for a long time.  But, although I never would have believed it at the time, not only did I survive it, it actually made our marriage stronger. No, it wasn’t easy and it took a lot of patience and work, but in the end, the affair brought certain issues into the light that were hiding in the dark, issues that I never knew existed, but which were laying in wait, ready to sabotage my marriage. The affair also gave rise to self esteem issues that I had been battling for a long time, but finally overcame. However, first things first. This article will give you some tools to help you survive or get over your husband’s affair.
Don’t Obsess Over The Issues That Won’t Help Your Healing, Like Details About The Other Woman Or Who Knew About The Affair: I know that this may sound impossible to you now, but trust me when I tell you that obsessing over the other woman or what she has that you don’t, (who she is, how they met, what she looks like, etc.) will not help you heal. All it is going to do is contribute to a destructive cycle that feeds upon itself and only makes the situation and your mental state worse. It’s perfectly normal to wonder about this, but it just isn’t worth it. It will only put destructive images in your head that will be hard to banish.
There’s a well known infidelity study which polled married men who had cheated. Only 12% of them said “the other woman” was prettier than their wife.  So put that worry to rest. There’s nothing special about her. Another common place where we get tripped up is that we want to know ALL the ways that we were betrayed. We want to know who else knew and how this whole charade was pulled off. So, if one of our neighbors or friends knew, then we will then turn our rage towards them too. The problem is that now we will begin to feel that the whole world has conspired against us, when really, this isn’t true. Feeling like a black cloud is hanging over you is only going to delay in your healing. No good is going to come of it.  For me, people I trusted (my husband) deceived me, but others (neighbors) were trying to protect me. Understand that there are really only two people to place direct blame upon here – your husband and her. Of those two, your husband is the only one that you want to have contact with – this should be the only relationship with which you concern yourself.
When You Are Ready, Understand Why The Affair Happened: It may be a while before you are ready to hear and understand the full details of the affair, (you may never want to hear it all) and you may need help understanding what your husband is really saying. Men are sometimes horrible at effectively communicating their feelings. They will give you vague, silly explanations like “it was just a mistake,” “it didn’t mean anything,” or “it’s not me, it’s you.” These things can sometimes sound like lies your husband is either telling himself or telling you.
However, you may be surprised to know that according to much research and counseling I have participated in, these phrases are often rooted in the truth.  Many men cheat simply because they’ve lost important feeling about themselves. I’ll explain. When a man is young and in love, he feels virile, alive, attractive, worthy, and competent. This is often because the woman he loves is lavishing a lot of attention, appreciation, and affection his way (often when you are first dating). Eventually though, married couples have to focus on other obligations like your job, your kids, your aging parents, etc. Many wives assume that their husband sees their struggle to juggle it all, knows that you love him, and would give him more time and attention if you could.
This assumption is partly wrong. Men feel guilty to want and need so much of your attention. So, instead of saying “hey honey, you know all those good feelings we were generating? Well, I want to get them back. Can I have more of your time?,” they will go and try to generate these feelings somewhere else. (Of course, this is messed up logic, but they don’t see it at the time.) Often, they don’t mean to hurt you, it really doesn’t mean a whole to them, and they never think you will find out. So, they assume they will just take care of this problem themselves and then everything will carry on. (This is unbelievably wrong, but they don’t understand this.)
In the infidelity study I mentioned earlier, over 77% of the men surveyed said they were “deeply sorry,” about the affair. And the vast majority said they cheated for EMOTIONAL not  PHYSICAL reasons. Many people assume that affairs are all about sex. They aren’t and it’s a huge mistake to think so. Knowing this then, should at least give you a foot hold on how to proceed. You absolutely need for your husband to understand the devastation of his actions. He is certainly not blameless. But likewise, you need to understand the factors that contributed to the affair so that you can address them if you want to save your marriage, if you want to.
Turn The Focus Away From Him (At Least Initially) And Turn It Towards Healing Yourself And Boosting Your Self Esteem:  Obviously, especially at first, the affair is going to encompass a huge chunk of your life. However, don’t let yourself get lost in the mix. Don’t put yourself on the back burner. So often, a woman whose husband has cheated will have a huge blow dealt to her self esteem. She will feel old, ugly, and not sexually alluring. Please understand that although these feelings are natural and understandable, they will eat you alive.  And, this self doubt is a marriage killer.  Your husband may be very sincere when he tells you that he still finds you extremely attractive, but self doubt or low self esteem will ensure that you don’t believe him.
It’s a vicious cycle. Take great pains to focus on your own self care and your own self worth. Get a complete make over. Take up a new hobby. Get out and see friends. Do whatever you need to do to put a genuine smile on your face. This will send a distinct message to your husband and to your own self conscience. In order to really “get over an affair,” you need to fully understand that it wasn’t your fault and that there is nothing at all wrong with you or something that some other woman had that you don’t or didn’t. This was a horrible, unfortunate decision your husband made that has less to do with you then you might think. But, you can heal from it – and so can your marriage, if that is what you want. Yes, it may take a bit of work, but in the end, I know from experience that you, and your marriage, can emerge stronger as a result.
Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger than ever after my husband’s affair. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I no longer worry that my husband will cheat again. You can read my story 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/

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