Why Do Men Feel So Guilty About An Affair When Most Of Them Do It?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who assume that they know what has actually happened during a marital affair, but who are severely mistaken.  People tend to make assumptions that are not true.  People tend to assume that things are their business when in reality, they are not. Some of these people are confused about the reaction that they are seeing from either the husband or the wife.

One emotion that seems to cause a lot of confusion is guilt. Sometimes, the spouse who cheated can feel intense guilt that he does not try to hide. This can be very noticeable to people who know him well. And not everyone understands this.

Someone might ask a question like this one: “my best friend at work cheated on his wife. I am not going to tell you that this is an admirable thing to do. But it’s not like he killed someone or anything. Now, this guy refuses to go out and get drinks after work. He preaches to the rest of us. He is so guilt ridden that he immediately goes home after work and basically does whatever his wife says. It’s clear he’s eaten up by the guilt. I feel like this guy is beating himself up needlessly. Overall, he is good person. Yes, he cheated on his wife. But it didn’t mean anything and most of us at this job have cheated on our wife at one time or another. But we move on. This guy won’t move on. Why does he have an overinflated  guilty conscience when everyone’s doing it?”

Here’s another example. The ‘other woman’ might ask: “the guy I’ve been having a relationship with told me that he was going to leave his wife and kids for me. I told my friends. I started looking for a bigger place for the both of us. Well all of a sudden, he changed his mind. His story is that when he went to tell his wife, he realized how horrible his actions truly were. He says he can’t see me anymore because of the guilt. He is very firm on this. No matter what I do or say, he won’t change his mind. I don’t get it. He didn’t do anything that a million other guys haven’t done. Why the intense guilt?”

I can’t answer this question from the view point of a cheating man. I’m a woman who has been on the other side of this. However, I get a lot of correspondence from cheating men and I think I have some decent theories on the guilt.

It’s not all that complicated, really. It’s a reaction to the knowledge that you have done something that you know in your heart is wrong.  And you also know that this mistake that you put in motion has deeply hurt the people that you care about.

Here’s another way to look at it. If you’re a parent, there has probably been a time when you’ve let your child down, even when you didn’t mean to. Perhaps you told your child you would take them somewhere special but, as it turned out, you had an emergency at work and you had to back out. Imagine how you felt when you faced your child and told them that you had to let them down. Remember how it felt to see your child cry and know that you were the cause of this pain. You felt horrible about this because you knew that you made a choice that caused pain to the one you valued the most.

That’s sort of how I imagine a man feels when he sees his wife crying because of his horrible decision to cheat. He may have fantasized that no one was going to be hurt. But this almost never turns out to be true. Someone is usually extremely hurt. And knowing that you had a hand in this understandably invokes guilt.

Because you know that you did this of your own free will. And you know that no once forced you.  In my observation, knowing all of this can make you feel lacking in integrity, weak, and ashamed.

Again, I’m not a man. But from all I’ve read and heard, I think I have a pretty good idea of how many of them feel. And we all know the feeling of guilt when we have when we hurt someone that we love.  And when we can’t take it back.

Sure, many people may cheat. (Although statistically speaking, not every one does. Plenty don’t.)  But everyone knows that this doesn’t make it right. And when we got married, this wasn’t our intention. We truly intended to love our spouse and to be faithful and to treat our spouse in the way that we would want to be treated.

When we fall short of this, we feel badly because we are human beings who want to do right by those we love. When we don’t, we are disappointed in ourselves and we feel guilty for not being the person that we wanted to be.

If you’re a friend or a family member of someone who feels this guilt, I don’t think you’re doing them a favor by telling them not to feel it. It’s better to admit you’re wrong, experience the guilt, and then be proactive to do whatever is necessary to make it right again. You can’t take back the cheating, but you can try to fix the damage that has been done.

My husband had a lot of guilt.  And at the time, I believed that he deserved to feel every bit of it.  But over time, the guilt diminished because he worked tirelessly to maintain our marriage and to restore the trust.  I don’t think he’ll ever be proud of the cheating, but I think he’s proud of how he handled himself through recovery. There’s more of that at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Coping Techniques After Being Cheated On And Deciding On Staying Together

By: Katie Lersch:  If I tried to tell you that life after a spouse’s affair was easy or was smooth sailing, you would know that I was lying.  Common sense tells you that it is not.  And yet, despite the difficulty, many people chose to stay for various reasons. Often times, there are children and other family members to consider.  Sometimes, it is very hard to turn your back on what you have built over the long term.  There are some very good and legitimate reasons to stay in spite of infidelity.  But that doesn’t make it easy.  People often say that this is a life-changing event that can change your world view.  They often ask for coping mechanisms to make it better.

Someone might say: “I am not questioning my decision to stay with my husband after his affair.  I know that this is the right thing – the only thing – considering my convictions.  And yet I am struggling.  I feel almost depressed.  I feel as if I have lost so much.  And it never seems to get any better.  My friends say ‘give it time,’ but I feel like I have and yet I am still so sad and so angry.  What are some coping mechanisms that I can use to get me through this?”

I will share some things that helped me.  I know that some of these tips might sound simplistic, but I found them to be very helpful.  They are also easy and mostly free.  So what does it hurt to try?

Never Settle For The Status Quo. Always Seek Improvement:  Once I was telling a friend of mine that my husband and I were doing “OK” after the affair.  She looked at me with the kindest expression and said: “I want you to know that you deserve more than just OK.  Do not concede to a marriage that isn’t what you want.”  This changed things for me.  As bad as an affair is, it does give you a clean slate.  You get to redefine your marriage and frankly, this is something to get pumped up for.  If you just accept a marriage that is half of what it once was, you’re not taking advantage of the ability to rebuild.  This gives you something to look forward to and get excited about, which helps to keep depression at bay.

Find An Outlet:  As much as you may feel that you need to constantly talk about the affair, this gets old quickly. And before you know it, you may feel that your whole life is consumed by the affair.  This isn’t good for anyone.  It’s very important to find an easy way to release these feelings. I found a handful of things helpful in this regard – journaling, yoga, power walking, meditation, charity crafting, and gardening.  It is so important to get out of your head regularly.  I would give myself five minutes to journal and I would write fast so that I wouldn’t edit myself.  Getting this out every single day helped so much.  Then, I would do something every day to focus my thoughts elsewhere.  Sometimes that was exercise. Sometimes that was using a meditation app on my phone.  But I found these things to be vital because often, you need to take a break from the drudgery and improve your outlook.  Everyone needs something to look forward to.

One Day At A Time Might Be Cliche, But It Can Can Help You Make Gradual Progress:  So often, we hope to heal immediately.  As nice as this would be, this isn’t realistic.  There is so much anger and confusion to process.  There is rebuilding to be done.  This all requires small steps as the relationship regains its footing.  It’s a gradual process that takes time.  And sometimes, all you can do is to take it one day – and one step – at a time.  This requires a different outlook than many of us have.  This is a learned behavior.  But it is necessary.  Every night, I used to give myself credit for getting through another day – even if it was difficult. And I would tell myself that tomorrow was another day and I would make the most of it.  Even if today isn’t so great, you always have tomorrow.

Putting It In Perspective:  Sometimes, when you are dealing with an affair, you feel like your world is ending.  You feel as if the walls are closing in. But you truly do have to take a step back sometimes.  When I was trying to heal, one of my friends was spending time in the hospital because her child had a scary, mystery illness.  This helped me gain perspective.  Although my family life was shaky and not like I wanted it, we were all together and we were all alive.  Which meant that there was still the chance to fix things.

Very few things are dire if you are still breathing and still have the capacity to wake up in the morning and craft the life that you want.  I know that this sounds dramatic, but it is true.  Some spouses have just lost their other half to illness or accident.  It happens.  So the fact that you are both here on this earth is something to be grateful about.  Because it means that every day, you have a chance to make it right again.  And not every one has this luxury.

When I look back at the aftermath of my husband’s affair, I know that it was bad.  But honestly, I don’t think of the the bad times all that much today.  I don’t dwell.  And that is the luxury of making it to the other side.  I know that you’re just starting right now.  But hang in there.  Things can and do get better.  If you aren’t getting what you need, speak up.  And know that you deserve the life that you want. There’s more about my own coping on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Do I Ruin The Confidence Of The Other Woman?

By: Katie Lersch: It’s understandable that the wife of a man who has cheated will feel somewhat competitive with the “other woman.” This can be true even if the wife no longer wants her husband and doesn’t even care if the affair continues. Regardless of how the wife feels about her husband, she can still feel as if the other woman has somehow won (especially if it appears that the other woman is confident that she has the upper hand or advantage.) And so the wife can wonder how to best shake this confidence.

A wife might describe this situation: “my husband and I have known the other woman for many years. She used to baby sit our children. Sometimes, when we went on vacation, we would pay her to care for our pets. Honestly, I always liked her. She has always been a very sweet person, but she was never what you would call attractive. She has always been overweight and dumpy. With dishwater-colored hair and no make up. Well, she had a health scare last year and she changed her lifestyle and started to work out. She lost some weight and so she kept going with her healthy regimen. She is now super skinny. And she has colored her dishwater hair to a bleached blond. Because of this, she started getting attention from men, so she changed her frumpy clothes to tight-fitting ones. Imagine my horror when I found out that my husband has been cheating on me with her. I suspected something not because they were inappropriate around each other, but because she started acting smug and superior. And even though my husband has started the process of breaking things off, she still acts smug. It’s as if she thinks that she is the most gorgeous and alluring creature in the world. Granted, she has upgraded her appearance. But she was borderline hideous before, so at this point, she’s only a little above average. How can I show her that she is not all that? How do I shake her new found confidence. Every time I see that smug look on her face, it makes me feel ill.”

Please don’t think I’m ducking the original question, but the first thing that I’m wondering is why you still seem to be in contact with the other woman? What opportunities are you having to see her look so smug? This is only my opinion and own experience, but I have come to believe that it is hard to move past the other woman if you are in constant contact with her. In fact, I believe that it’s best for all involved if every one cuts off ties with her. Healing from an affair is difficult enough without her in your life. But it’s much harder with her in it.

You Can’t Always Believe Appearances: If you no longer had contact with her, you wouldn’t need to see her looking smug. Here is another consideration. Sometimes, people who try very hard to seem very confident are anything but. They portray confidence to cover up their insecurities. It’s possible that the other woman isn’t as confident as she appears. She may worry that no one loves the real person inside of her and she is only getting attention because of her new look. She may worry that she may gain back the weight or have a hard time keeping up with her new look. The point I’m trying to make is that you have no way of knowing if her confidence is authentic or if it is just for show.

Frankly, when your relationship is with a man who is married to someone else, how confident can you really be in his commitment level? I hope that this doesn’t come off as too direct, but I’m not sure that your highest priority should be the other woman and what she feels. Your real concern should be yourself and how you feel.

From my own healing process, here is something that I have found to be true in almost all areas of my life, but especially with my marriage. When I worry about what other people think or feel, that means I’m not confident in myself. The problem isn’t with the other people. The problem is with me. But when I place my priority on myself and I get right with me, then I no longer care what others think or feel. And that makes my life so much easier.  And I notice that I am so much happier and so much more at peace.

So I would suggest that your goal should be to have some control over your own feelings instead of hers. Because the truth is, if you can get to a point where you’re healing, and growing, and gaining confidence in yourself, not only will you feel much better, but this is the best possible revenge that you could have.

If she looks back and sees that you and your husband have moved on and are living a happy and fulfilling life and are only focused on that, how good can she possibly feel about herself and about the affair? And, in the end, why should it matter?

I know from own infidelity experience that when we are hurt, we want every one involved to feel as hurt as we feel. But when we heal, that just doesn’t matter as much anymore and this is a huge relief. The truth is, the other woman probably isn’t as confident as you think. But her perceptions and feelings probably won’t matter as much  once you start healing. You can read more about my own journey at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Trying To Get Your Husband To End His Affair Or Choose You Over The Other Woman? These Tips Might Help

In a perfect world, as soon as you found out about your husband’s affair, he would fall over himself apologizing and outlining how he was going to banish the other woman from his life. He would make promises to make this up to you, regain your trust, and ultimately to save your marriage.

This isn’t the reality for some women though. Sometimes, the husband isn’t sure if he wants to end the affair. For whatever reason, he sometimes isn’t sure if wants to let the other person go. Sometimes he is honest and forthcoming about this and sometimes he isn’t. Some men will tell you that they are ending the affair when they really aren’t. It won’t be until later that you find out that they’ve continued to carry on with the other woman as though nothing has changed.

Many wives, quite understandably, become very frustrated with this situation because they feel a huge lack of control. Many want to save their marriages (despite their husband’s behavior) but they aren’t sure how this is going to be possible when he refuses to end the affair. Many ask me how they can force his hand so to speak and get him to let her go once and for all.

I often hear comments like “how can I get my husband to end the affair? The other woman works with him and he sees her every day. He just doesn’t seem willing to let her go, even though he says he still loves me and isn’t ready to end our marriage. She seems to have some pull over him that I can not figure out and over come. But I’m not sure how to play this. Part of me wants to give him an ultimatum, but I’m afraid that if I did this, he’d simply walk away. Is there anything that I should be doing or that I shouldn’t do?”

In the following article, I’ll discuss what I consider to be the things that you shouldn’t do (and want to avoid) when you’re trying to get your husband to end the affair, come back to you, and save the marriage.

Why You Don’t Want To Give Your Husband Either / Or Ultimatums: I know that this is usually the first card that the wife will want to play. This is very tempting because if you tell your husband that it’s her or you, then the idea is that he will HAVE to make a decision – and hopefully he will make this decision very quickly. Many wives want to sit him down and tell him that he has a set deadline to decide if he’s going to go with the other woman or stay with the wife. The wife will usually stress that once this decision is made, there is no going back. She’ll tell him that he has to decide and he has to decide right now.

Believe me when I say that I understand the logic behind this strategy. You are trying to force him to come to a decision and you’re hoping that your history with him (and the decency inside of him) will mean that he chooses you. However, this isn’t always what ends up happening. Sometimes, rather than allowing himself to be forced or rushed into making a decision, the husband will just tell the wife that if this is the line she’s drawn in the sand, then he’ll have to bow out. Often, he just isn’t sure what he wants and being forced into making up his mind seems like a worse alternative than indecision.

I often hear from men in this situation who say things like “my wife demanded that I chose between her or the other woman. At the time, my head was messed up, I was confused, and I just didn’t know what I wanted and so I chose the other woman simply because my wife wouldn’t give me any more time. We aren’t together anymore. I wish I had chosen my wife but she wouldn’t give me any leeway. Perhaps if she had been a little more patient, we would still be married today. But the ultimatum actually made things worse.”

Now, by saying this I certainly don’t mean that you should allow your husband to have a relationship with both you and the other woman. This isn’t acceptable either. But the compromise for that would be to tell your husband that you can’t have an intimate relationship with him while he still has a relationship with the other woman. This just isn’t acceptable to you. While he is having a relationship with her, then your relationship will certainly not be an intimate one. However, when he comes to a decision and hopefully decides that he wants to be with you and only you, then those circumstances might change.

Resist Trying To Elicit Negative Feelings In Your Husband (Like Guilt, Shame, Or Embarrassment:) As a wife who was cheated on, I suspect I know what you’re feeling right now. I know that you find your husband’s behavior absolutely deplorable. I know that you think he should be ashamed by and guilty for his actions. And I also know that it’s very tempting to point this out to him, especially when you’re trying to convince him to give her up.

Many women will try phrases like “how could you do this to our family?” Or “look at you carrying on like an insecure old man in the middle of a mid life crisis. When are you going to return to reality and realize that you’re betraying someone who has always been there for you and has loved you for more years than you care to admit? You are jeopardizing everything we have worked for because of some passing phase with some low quality tramp.”

And he may well deserve to hear this. These phrases could and probably are true. But, the thing is, he doesn’t want to hear this when he is so unsure about himself. He likely hears this in his own head coming from his own voice. He may not show the guilt and shame he’s feeling, but deep down, it is very likely there. But if you keep trying to make him feel even more badly about himself, he is likely to associate this negativity with you and it could affect his decision as to whether to end the affair.

With All These Don’ts, What Can I Safely Do To Get Him To End The Affair?: Admittedly, you can not control his feelings and his actions right now, but you can control your own. You can take the high road and work on your own well being and recovery right now. And you can take a look at the statistics about affairs lasting (the odds aren’t very good) and know that if you bide your time and paint yourself in the most flattering and dignified light, you will often win this battle.

But sometimes, you have to give it a little time and you have to allow him to come to these realizations himself. Many men do come to realize that they acted in stupid and embarrassing ways and they are sorry. But if you try to force these realizations on him before he comes to these conclusions himself, he may resent or even distance himself from you when this isn’t what you want.

I know that getting your husband to end the affair is probably just one difficult issue you are dealing with. But hang in there. Healing is eventually possible and it’s worth it. 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 pretty high. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story 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/

How Do I Love My Husband Again After He Cheated And Had An Affair?

by: katie lersch: I often hear from wives who are having a hard time believing that they are ever going to feel the same way about their husband and their marriages again. Even though that many of these wives really do want to save their marriages, some doubt that this is going to be possible for them.  They just can’t foresee ever feeling love for their husband again after he cheated on them.

I recently heard from a wife who was experiencing this first hand.  She said, in part: “How do you love your husband again after he cheats or has an affair?  Because I can’t imagine that this is ever going to be possible for me.  And I can’t be married to a man that I don’t love.  But his infidelity changed my love for him.   Because when I look at him now, I see a completely different man.  He’s no longer the loyal, attentive, and rock solid man I married.  I now see him as dishonest, sneaky, and manipulative.  I don’t want to end my marriage, but I can’t see any way around it when I no longer feel love for this man.  And I feel that love and marriage go hand in hand.  Would it ever be possible for me to love him again?  Or am I just wasting my time?”

These weren’t questions that I could answer for this wife.  But I could tell her that many wives are able to love their husbands again after cheating, an affair, or infidelity.  This often isn’t an immediate or fast process, but it is quite possible.  I will discuss this more in the follow article.

Loving Your Husband Again After Cheating Or An Affair Isn’t Something That You Should Expect To Happen Immediately: I can’t help but notice that many of the wives who ask about loving their husband again after his infidelity are relatively new to this situation.  Of course, when you are newly struggling, you want to know how long you can expect for the struggles to last.  It’s natural to want to feel better and to want to get your life back to normal as soon as you possibly can.

But love is a very deep and complex emotion.  It isn’t something that can be forced or just decided upon.  It takes time for it to grow. And it takes time for it to be rebuilt once it has been tested.  In order to love someone, you must respect, admire, and genuinely like them.  You often will need to believe that they bring something to the table and add something to your life that you can not (and do not want) to get from any one else.  But, when your husband has disappointed you in this way, it can be difficult to feel this these things for him.

However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t ever feel love for him again.  Many wives do, in time.  But usually, a lot of things need to happen between today and the day that you begin to feel loving toward him again.  You will need time to observe him making good on his promises and conducting himself in a way that you can respect, respond to, and admire again.  As I’m sure you might imagine, this is a gradual process.  There may be days when you can’t imagine feeling love again for your husband because you are so angry at him.  And you may not believe that there will be a day when this anger lessens, even a little bit.  But time can be more healing than you can imagine.  And your husband can and sometimes will rise to the occasion in ways that you might not have previously imagined or hoped for.

The Burden Of Loving Your Husband Again Lies At Least Somewhat With Him: Many wives that I dialogue with give me the impression that they think that loving their husband again is an obstacle that they must overcome alone.  It’s almost as if they think they have to make a decision or declaration about loving their husband again no matter what circumstances or struggles are happening around them.  It’s just not that easy. You can’t turn your feelings on and off at will. And you can’t love someone who isn’t proving to deserving of your love.

It’s my opinion that while you have the responsibility to decide if you want to be open to the idea of loving him again, he has the responsibility to show himself to be worthy of your love.  He can’t expect you to feel very loving toward him if he’s not doing everything in his power to prove to you that it’s safe to do so.

I sometimes have men contact me on my infidelity blog and tell me that they are devastated because their wives have decided not to love them anymore.  I often respond by asking them what they have done to earn their wife’s love all over again.  In other words, what have they done to show themselves to be truth worthy, rehabilitated, and remorseful?  I have to tell you that it’s obvious that some men just don’t have a clue that your loving them is completely connected to their actions and behaviors after the affair.

And I do believe that this doesn’t mean that they’re stupid or that they just don’t care.  It just often means that men can be lost about what they should be doing after they cheated.  Many will look to their wife for clues as to how they should behave.  Unfortunately, often their wife is waiting for them to make the first move.  As a result, sometimes no one makes any move and both people wonder why nothing positive is happening to move the marriage and the feelings forward.

If your husband hasn’t done enough to inspire your loving feelings for him again, I would recommend speaking up and requesting what you need.  Because sometimes, men just don’t know what you expect or they don’t understand what would be their best course of action.  Many wives resist having to “spell out” what they need. They think that their husband should know what to do or should immediately begin making things right because he is sincere.  The truth is, many sincere men are just at a loss.  They aren’t sure if you want for them to back off and leave you or alone or if you want them to take action.

Frankly, sometimes asking for the behaviors that you need to see provides the best possible outcome.  Seeing your husband work tirelessly to regain your trust, to show his love, and to make things right can eventually bring about those loving feelings that we’ve been taking about.  So to answer the question posed, yes, it is possible for you to love your husband again after he cheated or had an affair.  But often, it takes time and it takes very measured efforts.  You often don’t get the best results if both of you just sort of sit back with a “wait and see” attitude while waiting on the other to make the first move.

I can tell you that today, years after my husband’s affair, I love him completely.  This is in direct contrast to how I felt about him in the weeks following the affair.  It took time but the love did eventually return and it remains today.  If it helps you can read about what worked for me and more of that story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

I Feel Sexually Numb After My Spouse’s Cheating. Why? What Can I Do About It?

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s rare to carry on with your sex life as if nothing happened after you discover that your spouse has had an affair.  Although some couples will report that their sex life actually improved right after infidelity, this is the exception rather than the rule.  Many couples struggle sexually.  This is particularly true of the faithful spouse who can hesitate to be intimate after being betrayed and hurt so badly.  Many people report feeling numb, detached, or flat.

A wife might say: “the biggest damage to our marriage because of my husband’s affair is our sex life.  The other woman was everything that I am not – young, thin, and beautiful.  I don’t want to tear myself down.  I know that I am not ugly.  I know that some people would consider me still attractive.  But after nursing two children and having two pregnancies, my body can not compete with a young woman who is at her prime weight and who has never had children.  I suspect that she was more adventurous and eager to please sexually.  Plus, there was the aspect of surprise and newness with her.  I can’t compete with that either.  My husband ended the affair as soon as I found out.  He has done everything that I have requested of him.  I do believe he is putting in a lot of effort.  And I can’t imagine that he would jump through all these hoops if he did not love me.  I do believe that he loves me.  But it is very hard for me to engage with him sexually.  He seems into it and enthusiastic, but I wonder if this is only for my benefit.  I will feel like I want to have sex, but then when it actually comes down to it, I find that I am basically just numb.  I want to actively participate and to enjoy myself like I used to, but I find that my mind just wanders.  Most of the time, I imagine my husband having sex with her.  But other times, I find myself thinking about silly, mundane things like whether or not I paid my bill or when I am due for a teeth cleaning.  Or, I’ll worry about something to do with my kids.  This hasn’t been a huge problem with me in the past.  Am I always going to feel numb like this when we have sex? Why is this happening? And how can I stop it?”

I’m not a therapist.  I am answering this question as a wife who has been through this and gone through something similar.  In my experience and opinion, sometimes, we shut down sexually when we have shut down emotionally.  It is very hard to have great sex when you are not connected emotionally.  Therefore, if your relationship is still struggling a little bit and is still not on solid ground, you might see your sex life being affected accordingly.  It’s understandable and it is normal.  When you continue to heal and you regain that emotional connection, you will often find that your sex life greatly improves as well.

Here is another consideration.  Many of us kind of detach and distance ourselves from our husband after he has an affair.  We do this as a defense mechanism.  We may not be consciously aware of it.  But by distancing ourselves from him, we are trying to protect ourselves from being hurt.  And this distance can seep into other areas of our life – like our sex life.

How do we begin to stop this?  Well, we can start by trying to notice if (and when) we are doing it.  Notice how you are when you’re conversing with your spouse or spending time with him.  If you find yourself only half way engaged, pay attention and ask yourself if you want to lean in just a little bit.  Sometimes, you have to do this gradually because you are understandably reluctant to completely trust and you do not want to be hurt.  Often, over time you will feel a little safer, engage a little more, and then retreat and watch again and repeat the process.  Over time, you are no longer as guarded because you’ve learned that it’s safe to trust.  Watch yourself in this process and if you are not actively leaning in and giving a little more in time, ask yourself why. Figure out what hasn’t been settled and address it.

Finally, mindfulness can greatly enhance sex in any circumstances.  I know that it seems silly to compare sex to meditation.  But the same type of mindfulness works with both.  When you find your mind drifting, draw your attention to what is what in front of you.  Notice your breath.  Notice the feel of his hands on you. Notice exactly what is happening at that time.  Don’t be afraid to look at him and to really and truly take it all in.  This is the easiest and fastest way to stop being numb.  I know first hand that you have every right to want to numb yourself.  You are afraid.  You are reluctant.  But if you want to experience all of the pleasures sexually then you have to be willing to be a little more vulnerable in other areas.  And you have to be willing to take down the walls during sex and to experience it all.

Just like we had to build up our marriage after my husband’s affair, we had to build up our sex life.  It took repeated effort, but it was worth it.  There is a good resource for restoring your sexuality on the side of this blog. It’s called “her secrets.”  Look to your upper right to find the link.

Could My Husband’s Childhood Have Caused Him To Be A Cheater?

By: Katie Lersch: It’s common knowledge that, when people are caught cheating, they will sometimes offer up excuses that place the blame elsewhere. They might tell you that they didn’t think they were worthy of love or happiness or that they sabotaged themselves. They might tell you that something traumatic in their backgrounds contributed to their behaviors. One example might be their childhood. And while the faithful spouse might have some sympathy for the child that their spouse used to be, they often don’t know if this excuse is a valid one.

Someone might voice this concern. “I caught my husband cheating on me a couple of weeks ago. He is apparently sorry and is begging me not to divorce him. I still love my husband. And if I could understand what made him do this, then I might consider working things out. But I really just do not get it. We had a very good marriage. At least that is what I thought. Our sex life was good. We were connected. We talked and laughed. I keep asking him why he would jeopardize something that was so good. He says that it is just in his family culture to cheat. His dad and all of his uncles had multiple girlfriends in addition to wives. In fact, his dad would flaunt the other women in his house. This was painful for my husband and his siblings, but it was especially painful for his mother. This explanation does not make sense to me. If anything, I would think that this would be a reason NOT to cheat. If you grew up seeing the pain that the infidelity caused, why on earth would you bring it into your own marriage? For example, my mother was a heavy smoker and because of this, I have never tried smoking in my entire life and I never would. Can someone cheat because of their childhood?”

I’ve definitely heard this reasoning before. It’s not uncommon. And I think that when you have certain things in your childhood – you might either go one of two ways.  You might repeat those behaviors, because it’s all that you know. Or, like you have done, you might want to avoid those behaviors at all costs.

Your husband might be completely sincere in his belief that his childhood contributed to his infidelity. Perhaps the men in his family believe that you are not a “real man” unless you have more than one woman. It’s possible to see how growing up with this belief might contribute to your acting on it as an adult. However, there is so much more to cheating than just one contributing factor most of the time. Because even if the inclination and tendency is there, the level of commitment and a heightened impulse control can counter it.

So, if you do end up being open to saving your marriage, your husband would need to work on the childhood issues, and on preventing himself from being in that type of situation, or thought process, again.

With help, childhood issues can be overcome. Infidelity is no exception. And sometimes, knowing the pain that this caused you can be a motivator to do the work to heal and to proclaim that the trend ends with you and your family.

But you have to be careful that the childhood issue isn’t being used as a crutch or an excuse. As adults, we have choices. We are not children anymore. Sure, the inclination might be there from childhood issues, but we have to remember that we have made a choice. And being a responsible adult who is no longer a child means taking responsibility for that choice and for making things right again.

So, while I think that there may be some legitimacy in having risk factors that carry over from childhood, I also think that you have to acknowledge the choices that you’ve made and then take responsibility for having made them. With that done, you can then get down to the work of undoing the damage that the childhood has done.

People do heal from affairs, from bad childhoods, and from cultural standards if they are willing to do the work. And sometimes, seeing the pain that they caused those they love can be very motivating to break those habits forever. So yes, your husband’s childhood may have contributed to his affair. But that doesn’t excuse the choice he made. I’d suspect you’d want him to work on those issues with a progressional and learn to honor his commitment to his marriage – despite his childhood.

I firmly believe that my own childhood contributed to the way that I handled my own spouse’s affair.  My step-father cheated on my mother and she was extremely open about it in front of my siblings and myself.   She never healed and carried the anger with her like a badge.  So I vowed to handle this very differently in my own case and in my own family. You can read more about that 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

Forgiving Yourself After You Had An Affair? Is It Self Indulgent Or Selfish?

By: Katie Lersch:  People often assume that when a marriage is harmed by an affair, the person who is hurt the worst is the faithful spouse.  And while I know firsthand that it is extremely painful when your spouse cheats on you, the spouse who cheated can be deeply hurt as well.  They can struggle with intense guilt and feelings of extremely low self worth.

There is sometimes a lot of support for the faithful spouse.  It is understandable why the faithful spouse might need support while healing and while trying to move on.  But what about the cheating spouse?  Should they get this support?  Should they be encouraged to forgive themselves and move on?

Not everyone thinks so.  I sometimes hear from spouses who have cheated in the past and who want to be able to forgive themselves to that they can move forward, but they are told that this is self centered.

Someone might explain: “It stinks that I even have to say this.  But I cheated on my husband.  I feel like I’m a felon or something.  Like I can never do anything without identifying myself as a horrible person.  I know that in many ways I deserve it, but I feel like the description of cheater is going to follow me around for the rest of my life.  I haven’t really started counseling, but this wonderful woman from my church, who I see as sort of my mentor, told me that I have to forgive myself.  She said that I’m not going to be able to be the best wife or the best mother I can be while I’m going through life feeling like a person who doesn’t matter.  She said that of course I will need to make things right with my husband, but I also need to make things right with myself.  I was telling a friend about this wish to forgive myself.  This woman’s husband is my husband’s best friend.  She was not very receptive.  She said that this idea seems a little selfish.  She said that cheating is an awful thing and that I should not even think about forgiving myself until my husband can forgive me.  Frankly, I don’t know if my husband will ever forgive me.  But when I told my husband about this conversation, he agreed with my friend.  He said that self forgiveness for someone who had an affair seems a little self indulgent, considering all of the damage that I’ve done.  Is this correct? Should I just give up on the idea of forgiving myself?”

I’m not a counselor.  But as a wife who has been cheated on, I do understand why people might discourage you.  I think the fear is that, by focusing on your own forgiveness, you might be placing the focus away from making things right with your marriage and with your husband. And of course, you want to make sure your attention is on all of these things.

However, I can also tell you that my husband’s serious struggle with guilt and shame after his affair hurt our marriage almost as much as the affair itself.  Clearly, that was something he was going to have to deal with if he was ever going to be able to be an involved and enthusiastic husband to me.  As long as he felt underserving and unworthy, then our relationship was always going to struggle.  As long as he also focused on other important things, I had no problem at all with him working on letting go of the guilt.  It wasn’t serving either of us.  What I ultimately wanted was to have a healthy marriage again.  And that wasn’t going to happen if we were both damaged and struggling individuals.

I think that people sometimes mistake what forgiveness in this situation really is.  It doesn’t mean that you are not accountable for the affair.  It doesn’t mean that you won’t have to work to rebuild the trust.  It doesn’t mean that the slate is wiped clean.  It just means that you are going to accept that you are not an evil person so that you can be a worthy participant in your marriage and your life again.  It means that you are trying to be as healthy and as whole as you can possibly be.  It means you’re trying to be effective for your family and you can’t do that if you are full of self hatred.

If you are getting resistance from the word “forgiveness” than perhaps it’s best to use different wording like: “trying to get to a better place within myself” or “trying to become the best person I can be for my family.”  Sometimes, it’s not what you are trying to do that is objectionable, it is just the word ‘forgiveness’ because people do not really understand what this means.

But I don’t think that wanting to move past the guilt and the shame so that you can be more effective is selfish or indulgent.  Because I know first hand that it is often necessary in order to truly move on.  And frankly, both parties usually want the same thing.  Your spouse may not realize that this is necessary for you.  Or, they may worry that what you really want is to hide from your responsibilities.  But once they see that this isn’t true, they may calm down with the resistance.  In the meantime, you may want to change the wording that you use while continuing to work on yourself.

Perhaps I was receptive to my husband working on himself because it was very obvious to me that he was also serious about working on our marriage.  Try to make this clear to your spouse – that working on your marriage and your family is every bit as important to you as working on yourself.  Because honestly, the two go hand in hand.  If it helps, you can read more about our own struggles with infidelity on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com