I’ve Been Struggling With Getting Over My Husband’s Affair For A Long Time. How Do I Turn The Corner?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from women who feel that too much time has passed since their husband’s affair to not see any improvement.  Often, months or even years go by and yet they feel no better and there is not yet a sense of relief. The wives can start to wonder what is wrong with them and if there is any way to turn to the corner or to get over the hump.

I heard from a wife who said: “my husband had an affair three years ago.  If you would have told me then that I would still be in pain three years later, I would not have believed it.  I thought that if my husband and I wanted to save our marriage enough, then we would eventually heal.  We are both intelligent and good people and I was confident that we would do whatever was necessary.   But we have not recovered as well as I would have hoped.  And I don’t think that this is anyone’s fault.  We have tried very hard.  I do believe that my husband has been faithful since the affair.  But I still hurt.  I still have doubt.  I still find myself thinking back to when I first found out.  I find myself wondering why my marriage still feels off.  When I discuss this with my husband, he gets frustrated and throws up his hands.  He asks me what more he can be expected to do.  I don’t have any answers for him.  I don’t know why I haven’t recovered.  I want to feel better.  And I’m terrified that this means that although we tried our best, our marriage just didn’t make it.  This breaks my heart.  But what other conclusion is there? How can I turn the corner?  Or is it too late?”

I don’t think that it is ever too late.  I can’t tell you that every marriage is going to make it after an affair.  Some do not make it even though both people tried very hard.  But others that initially struggle do recover.  And sometimes what separates one from the other is a refusal to give up.  I do believe that there are some things that you might try before you give up.  After all, you have hung in there this long.  So I think it is worth to try a few additional things.

Is There Anything That You Still Need To Talk About?:  I often find that in situations like this, there are a few issues where neither spouse wants to go.  In other words, there are often issues that people will tend to tip toe around.  And these tend the be the most potentially painful issues.  These are often issues of attraction, trust, compatibility, and integrity.  These are the unspoken questions like: “do you not find me attractive anymore?”  Or “will you cheat again when my back is turned?”  Or “how am I ever going to be confident that I turn you on enough for you to be faithful to me?”  Another example is: “I’m not sure that I will ever be the same person again.  And as a result, I’m not sure that we can ever have the same marriage again.”

Many people don’t put these fears and thoughts into words either because they don’t want to put their insecurity or their doubts on display or they don’t want to bring up an issue that they think should have already healed.  Plus, they often don’t want to risk the judgements or the defensiveness from their spouse.  In short, it’s a risk that they don’t want to take when they have already lost so much or they already feel as if they are walking on thin ice.

I do understand this.  I know how this feels.  But I also know that if you “don’t go there” or you don’t stare right in the face of what is troubling you the most, then it is always going to be an issue until you do.  And after some time has passed, you can start to believe that the whole issue is insurmountable issue when in fact it is not.

You Must Make Every Attempt To Reintroduce Fun And Flirtation Back Into Your Marriage:  I know that this may seem silly at first glance.  But many couples almost see staying together after infidelity as a job that must be done well or even perfect.  They approach this in a very serious and almost methodical manner.  This is understandable.  After all, your marriage is at stake here.  It’s not a laughing matter.  But I can tell you that a very common reason that people have affairs is because they are looking to add spice to their lives.  They are attracted to something new or to a sense of adventure.

In order to turn the corner, you should make every attempt to reintroduce this into your marriage. And when I say this, it can be as simple as trying to new things and making sure that you are laughing with your spouse on a regular basis.  I know what you might be thinking.  You are probably wondering how are you supposed to do this when you are still so angry or things are still so tense? Sometimes, you have to place these fears on the back burner for just a little while so that you can make some progress.

I know that it might seem weird or even unfair.  But if you are successful with this, something interesting might happen.   When you start to gel and be light hearted with your spouse again, you will probably find that your confidence level will go up and your anger level will go down.  That’s just the way that it often works.

You Must Rebuild Your Confidence To Manage Your Doubts:  Sometimes when I describe the above scenario, I women respond with things like “well my husband doesn’t want to spend that kind of time with me.”  Or “my husband would never think of me as light hearted and fun.”

If this strikes a cord with you, then this is a good indication that you need to work on your self confidence. I don’t say this to insinuate that there is anything wrong with you.  But in order to take risks, you will need a little courage.  And courage doesn’t come easily when you are filled with self doubt.  So I am giving you encouragement and even permission if you need it to do whatever you need to do in order to restore your self confidence.  This might take a little time, creativity, and patience but it is worth it.  You may even feel selfish at the time, but this is OK.  Because if you don’t see the positive attributes within yourself than you can’t believe that your husband also sees them.  And unfortunately, until that happens, you may have a hard time turning the corner. And there is nothing wrong with seeking professional help with this if all else fails.

As I alluded to, I had my own struggles after my husband’s affair.  Doubts and worries seemed to follow me around no matter what I did.  My mind would resolve that today was a new day but my heart wouldn’t follow. It wasn’t until I made myself the biggest priority that all this changed.  If if helps, you can read that story on my blog http://surviving-the-affair.com

 

Do People Ever Feel Regret When They Get A Divorce Because Of An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from people who are trying to gauge if there is going to be regret if their marriage ends because of an affair. And this can cause concern from both the faithful spouse and the cheating spouse.

From the cheating spouse, you might hear a comment like: “I am just going to be completely honest and say that I am in love with the other woman. I do not want to give her up. I feel like I do not want to live my life without her. She adds something to my life that I have not felt in a very long time and I can’t imagine giving that up. At the same time, my wife is a wonderful person and I hate the thought of hurting her and leaving her on her own. But, I can’t deny what I feel for the other woman. My biggest concern is my kids. I know that getting divorced will have a very negative effect on them. I was talking to my brother about this and he said that I need to find a way to love my wife again and save my family. He divorced because of an affair and although he said he felt confident about that decision at the time, he now regrets it more than any mistake he has ever made. He says that I will regret allowing an affair to cause me to divorce my wife also. Will I?”

While I can’t tell you how you might feel in the future, I can tell you that I do hear from a lot of people in this situation on my blog and they do express regret. Many people assume that the only time that someone feels regret is when the relationship with the other person doesn’t work out. This is sometimes true, but not always. Sometimes, there is regret even when the other relationship does work out. There is regret at the way that they handled it and for the way that they left the marriage without having the integrity to separate their marriage from the affair. It is one thing to start a relationship after you gave your marriage every fair chance and ultimately failed. But it is another thing to turn a blind eye on your family because you are so short sighted because of the affair. Many people say that they wished they would have at least handled things differently and not put their own feelings before the feelings of their family. They feel regret that things worked out as they did and that they caused so much pain because of their actions.  There is often a lot of shame involved.  Because they know that they could have done better.

From the faithful spouse you might hear a comment like: “I can not fathom trying to save a marriage on a man who has lied to and cheated on me. I do not want to be with someone who can betray me in this way. At the same time, my first priority is my kids. What is this going to do to them? What if ten years down the road I find myself still alone and I look back and wish that I would have given my husband a chance to make this up to me? Is it possible that I will regret it if I divorce my husband because of his affair?”

I do hear from faithful spouses who feel regret that they didn’t try to save their marriages, but I find this scenario less common. I find that it is more likely for the cheating spouse to feel regret and this is likely because it’s obvious that most of the blame lies with the spouse who chose to cheat.

With that said, I’ve found that both parties often do feel regret if they look back later and feel that they may have acted very swiftly. Many wish they had given it a little more time and “earned their way out.” What I mean by tis is that many will tell you that they wish they could look back and honestly say that they had tried everything in their power to save their marriage before they made the decision to divorce. They might mention that they should have tried counseling or they might have tried to give it a little time to see if their anger or their feelings would have faded before they made the drastic decision to divorce. In short, when both parties feel regret, it usually is focused on the fact that they wished they would have given it a little more effort before they walked away.  And they wish they could have not been as emotional in front of their children. You will commonly hear them say “I wish I would have handled it differently and not let my emotions get away with me.  I wish I had set a better example for my kids.”

So what does this mean if your in the middle of a marriage where the affair is fresh? I can only offer suggestions. This decision is ultimately yours. But I would suggest at least considering a little time and perhaps some professional help before you make a decision with as many serious and long reaching consequences as a divorce.  I know that this is a painful time, but try to always attempt to act in a way that you can proud of when you look back.

I can honestly say that my children were the sole reason I gave my husband another chance after his affair.  If it hadn’t been for this, I would have left without a glance back.  But, I’m glad that I hung in there and waited to see what would happen.  Because I have a very happy and strong family today.  If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Spouse Cheated. But He Never Expressed Any Unhappiness In Our Marriage

By: Katie Lersch: It’s often assumed that a man’s cheating is not always that much of a surprise to the wife and to those who know the couple well. People often assume that there were warning signs or that the husband has long been complaining about his marriage and the wife refuses to listen until ultimately, the husband choses to seek solace elsewhere.

This is the assumption, but it isn’t always the truth. Some husbands never utter a word of discontent before they cheat. A wife could explain it this way: “I suppose I’m dense, but I never would have expected my husband of cheating. It floored me. Not only did I not see it coming, but I would not have imagined that it ever would come. My husband has been acting normally. And perhaps I am naive, but he seemed very content with our marriage. Our neighbors are dealing with infidelity. And for about eighteen months before he actually cheated, the husband would bad mouth his wife and his marriage every chance he got. His cheating wasn’t surprising to any of us, including his wife. My husband has never bad mouthed me or our marriage. If anything, he compliments both and says how lucky he is. Now, I see this as a slap in the face. Because I feel like all the compliments and the lack of complaints were all meant to cover the fact that he was a potential cheater. Is it normal for a man who never complains about his marriage to have an affair?”

Honestly, there is no set pattern or clues for a man to exhibit before or while he cheats. Some men are actually more loving while carrying on an affair. And some are very cold so that the wife knows that something is very obviously wrong. Some are very vocal about what is wrong with their marriage because they are looking for changes in the hopes that they will not cheat. And some never say a word.

Some, quite frankly, are not unhappy. People almost always assume that cheating only happens in unhappy or unstable marriages and it is just not always true. Some men will swear that their marriage was very fulfilling and yet, the still had an affair. And the reason for this is that the affair is not always an escape from the marriage. Sometimes, it is an attempt to escape themselves, escape their low self esteem, or to escape the aging process.

Because of this, you may not hear any complaints because they do not have any. I know that this is frustrating and hard to understand. And I know that, because you didn’t hear any complaints, you feel as if your husband kept you in the dark or didn’t meet his end of the honesty bargain.

Most of us feel that he could have at least given us a warning. This was definitely true in my case. Even after what happened, I still believe that my marriage was a happy one. I still believe stress from my husband’s new job that took him away from his home and his family contributed to the affair more than our marriage ever could have.

Unfortunately though, none of this excused us from having to do the work in order to fight for our marriage. Because regardless of the way that the affair happened, or what the warning signs consisted of (assuming there were any) the healing process is going to be the same. The wife who had tons of complaints and warnings has to do the work and recover in the same way as the wife who had no warnings.

However, the wife with no warnings is more likely to doubt her own ability to see what is going on around her. And she’s more likely to beat herself up, assuming that there were signs that she just missed. As a result, she may have a harder time restoring the trust.

Please try to do everything you can to avoid blaming yourself. Sometimes, there truly were no signs and you would have only saw this if you were a gifted psychic. Sure, you will want to pay special attention to communication if you chose to save your marriage, but you did nothing wrong.  And this is not that uncommon so it is not an indication that there is anything wrong with you. I didn’t have any warning signs. I am pretty astute and I pay attention. But, I didn’t see it because there wasn’t anything to see.

In our healing, one of the things my husband had to work on was really taking inventory in himself to learn when something is bothering him. Frankly, I strongly believe that often an affair is a man’s attempt at denying what is really wrong. It is attempt to run away from the painful truth. It is him not wanting to stare his doubts and his insecurity in the face. If he’s not going to show it to himself, how is he going to show it to you?

Please don’t beat yourself up about this. It is quite possible that he didn’t complain because he honestly had no legitimate complaints.  Regardless, it is better to look to the future than to the past.  The affair has happened and now you have to determine where you go from here.  If it helps, you can read about my own process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Why Does My Husband Feel The Need To Make Amends To The Other Woman

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are confused and frustrated that their husband seems to be concerned about what the other woman thinks of him – even after the affair is supposedly over. This concern makes the wife wonder why he even cares and if this is yet one other thing that she needs to worry about in a time where she is already having to deal with multiple things that cause a great deal of pain and stress.

I might hear a comment like: “when I found out that my husband was cheating on me with a woman from our school car pool, I told him that he had to break off all contact immediately. This meant that we dropped out of the car pool at once. I sat in our kitchen while my husband was on the phone with her. He kept the conversation very short. He told her that he now realized that the affair was wrong and that it had to end. He said that he had decided to work on his marriage and therefore, they couldn’t see each other anymore and this included in the car pool. My husband told her that we would find a way to get our kids to school on our own. I could hear her trying to talk to him on the other end of the phone, but every time she tried to say something, he repeated that he had to end things. I thought that this was the end of it until I saw an email that he sent her. It basically said that it hoped that she didn’t think too badly of him but that he felt that he had to do what was right. He said that he knew that us dropping out of the car pool was going to be a huge inconvenience for everyone and he stressed that he was sorry about this. He then said that he hoped she didn’t think that he was too much of a creep and he hoped that her life would be a good one. He never asked her to contact him back, but now I’m worried that this is exactly what is going to happen. Why does he feel the need to make this OK with her? Why feel the need to make amends? Since she was driving our son to school and dropping him off at the home we shared, then she very obviously knew that he was married and that she was putting a family in jeopardy. So why does my husband care what she thinks? Is he just trying to get her to correspond back to him?”

This May Mean That He Has A Conscience Rather Than An Ulterior Motive: I had no way to know what the husband’s intentions were. (And I’d certainly suggest that you continue to monitor the situation closely.) But, this is not an uncommon situation. Often, the husband is understandably forced to break things off quite suddenly. And although us faithful wives wish that he could just turn his back without a second thought, he often has a hard time doing that because he feels as if he has been somewhat cruel and uncaring by just breaking things off with no negotiation and no real warning. He can feel that this is a little harsh. And he probably feels like he is dealing with two women who think that he is a jerk. But, he figures that he has a lifetime in which to prove to you that this isn’t true. However, he may also know that he doesn’t have this same luxury with the other woman. So, he just wants to quickly touch base with her and explain or apologize a little further.

Does this mean that he’s trying to remain in touch with her? Not necessarily. But it can’t hurt to continue to monitor this situation and to initiate a conversation about it. You might consider something like: “I wasn’t sure whether to bring this up or not, but I decided to go ahead and bring it out in the open. And the reason for this decision is that while we are recovering from the affair, we both need to be completely honest with one another. And I am committed to that. I wasn’t attempting to spy on you. But I did inadvertently see that you sent the other women an email. While it wasn’t inappropriate in terms of what you said, the fact that you said anything at all concerns me greatly. I want to be clear that, now that you have said your peace, I don’t want there to be anymore contact with her. And this is true even if she should write you back. This may well be painful and awkward for everyone but, in order to give us the best chance to heal, this is the way that it needs to be. Can I count on you to live up to your promises? I can respect that you didn’t want to be cruel and you wanted for her to understand where you were coming from, but it has to end here. Because it really shouldn’t matter what she thinks of you. It should matter what I think of you. And right now, I am struggling with understanding your motivations. Can you clarify why you sent that email and where we go from here?”

The husband may well respond by being defensive. This is relatively normal. What is most important is that he understands that you aren’t trying to attack or engage with him. You are clarifying that the contact needs to stop. Now that he’s had the final word and attempted to make amends, then it is time for you both to move on.  This means that both of you place your focus on moving toward your own marriage and fully away from the past.  If it helps, you can read about how I attempted to handle a similar situation on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Husband And I Have A Great Sex Life. And Yet He Still Cheats. Why?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are extremely confused as to why their husband is a repeat cheater. They have made it their business to ensure that they have full, exciting, regular, and stimulating sex life. And yet, he still cheats. This often leaves them wondering if perhaps the sex isn’t as great as they had assumed or if, no matter what they do, they are going to be dealing with a husband who can’t stop cheating.

I might get a comment like: “the first time that my husband cheated on me, I tried to use it as a wake up call to strengthen my marriage. I admit that at that time, our marriage had gotten a bit stale after we had kids. So I really opened up sexually and, as a result, our sex life blossomed. When I talk to my girlfriends about sex, they confirm to me that my husband and I have sex far more than what is normal. And frankly, I do a lot of things that my friends refuse to do. So honestly, my husband doesn’t have anything to complain about in the sex department. I am more than accommodating to him. And he tells me all of the time that he is more than satisfied. And that is why it is was so shocking to me when he cheated the next time. There was no logical reason for him to need to seek anything anywhere else. I keep myself attractive. I am attentive to his emotional and physical needs. I believe that I am a good wife and mother. And if all of this isn’t confusing enough, I just found out that he has cheated a third time. I just do not get it. Why does a man who has a wonderful sex life have to go out and cheat?”

I am going to attempt to answer this with my own theory. But before I do, I have to tell you that I am not a man. So while I can’t possibly know how or what a man thinks directly, I do hear from a lot of men in this situation on my blog. And I have done a lot of research on this because of my own situation. Experts will often stress that men cheat for emotional rather than physical or sexual reasons. I actually agree with this, but I believe that this statistic is often misunderstood.

Many people will assume that the wife is not supporting the husband emotionally so he has to seek this somewhere else. They might assume that she is cold, unapproachable, distant, or unsympathetic. None of these things need to be true. Often, the man is struggling with something within himself whether that thing is aging, a lack of self esteem, mourning a life he never realized, or a slew of other possibilities. In short, he is dealing with some sort of stressor and is having a hard time. Now, he may have the most understanding and supportive wife in the world. But because this is an internal struggle, she can not take it away for him or fix it for him, no matter how much she might like to. (And to be quite honest, the other woman isn’t likely to fix it either, even though she might serve as a diversion to make him forget.)

Of course, there are other reasons that men cheat that have nothing to do with their sex life or with their wife. They may have poor impulse control, they may have a destructive streak and a tendency to sabotage the things they hold most dear because they feel that they are undeserving. They have risky friends or put themselves in risky situations. They may come from a household or a culture that condones cheating. Or, they may have a legitimate sexual addition.

There are numerous possibilities here. But many of them has nothing whatsoever to do with sex. In fact, many men who comment on my blog will have no problems admitting that they had a great marriage and a great sex life. They will tell you that neither of these things were the issue. Many people will assume that they are lying to spare their wife’s feelings. But I don’t. So much of my research has indicated that cheating really isn’t about sex and many actual cheating husbands have confirmed this.

And that is why a man can cheat when he has a very satisfying sex life with a wife whom he deeply loves. That is not to say that it doesn’t matter what happens with your sex life. It does. But you can have a great sexual relationship and still be faced with infidelity. It is actually quite common. That’s why I recommend getting some help to determine why he keeps repeating these same behaviors so that he can get what he needs within himself so he can stop.  If it helps, you can read more about my healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Husband Wanted To Have Lots Of Sex Right After He Had An Affair. But Now He Doesn’t. What Is Going On?

By: Katie Lersch: It’s very common to use your sex life in order to gage how your marriage is faring after an affair. While I understand this and I did it myself, I have to say that it is not the most accurate measurement of how your marriage is holding up. It’s normal for your sex life to wax and wane as you move through healing. I’ll expand on this below.

A wife might share this concern: “I will admit that after I found out about my husband’s affair, we went at it like rabbits. I’m embarrassed about this, but I have read that it can be normal. And frankly, I found it pretty encouraging. This went on for a few weeks after I learned about his affair. However, lately he doesn’t seem that interested. I am so worried about this. My mind runs away from me and I start to think that maybe he has gone back to the other woman and is getting sex from her. Or I worry that he has perhaps changed his mind about saving our marriage because he is not longer interested in me sexually anymore. What is going on here?”

Well, I can only speculate. Because there are so many possible reasons. And, as I said before, it is absolutely normal for your sex life to fluctuate as you try to navigate the affair. While it’s more common for the faithful spouse to pull back, the unfaithful spouse can certainly pull back also. Why would he do this? Here are some possible reasons.

He Starts To Worry That He Doesn’t Deserve It: Believe it or not, some men pull back when they look back and see how their spouse is standing behind them and even willingly resuming intercourse when perhaps it is too early for them even to deserve it. They can feel guilty about this. So they may be pulling away to see how you might react to this.

He May Worry About What You Are Thinking Of Him: Many men worry that you are going to think that they are creepy for wanting to have and resume sex so soon. Perhaps he wasn’t worrying about this at the very beginning because he was so caught up in trying to show you how sorry he was and how much he still loves you. But, when things calm down, the begins to worry about how he is being perceived.  He doesn’t want to give the idea that all he cares about is sex.

The Time For Confirmation Might Have Passed: Since this wife knew that a lot of marital sex after an affair was normal, she probably also knew that one reason for this is that both parties desperately want confirmation that their spouse still desires and wants them, despite the horrible thing that has just passed through their marriage. But once you get that confirmation, then the desperation abates and so might the sex. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is anything wrong.

Of course, I’m not going to tell you that it’s not possible that he’s resumed the affair. I can’t possibly know that. You can certainly look for clues or signs that will give you more information and you can certainly ask him why your sex life has slowed down because communication during recovery is vital.

But I hope that this article has shown you that there are various and legitimate reasons that your sex life might fluctuate. Honestly, throughout the course of your marriage, your sex life will fluctuate without cause for concern. But once you have fought through an affair, you become very observant of this because you are afraid of the infidelity happening again.

And this is often a positive development. It’s good to be observant about your marriage. But you don’t want to take it too far and think that every time you aren’t completely passionate, then there is something wrong. This isn’t always the case.

Our sex life was up and down after my husband’s affair. And sometimes I did worry about this.  But time has taught me that sometimes, I have a tendency to look for things that weren’t there.  You can read more about my recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Husband Says He Didn’t Mean To Have An Affair

By: Katie Lersch: Sometimes, when a spouse is confronted with the indisputable facts that he is having an affair and there is a demand for more an explanation, one of the justifications or excuses that he will give you is: “but I didn’t mean to have an affair. There was nothing malicious about this.” And he will say this quite seriously and he will be completely sincere. Which will leave you evaluating if this fact means anything at all.

A wife might say: “I caught my husband cheating on me with our hair dresser. We have both been going to this woman for years. I have always liked her. I do not understand how this could have happened. Since she cuts my hair, she knows me very well. She knows that we have a family. There are times when I feel like I hate them both. My husband can not give me any plausible explanation as to how and why this happened. He says that it has only been going on for about a month and that he has no problems ending it. One thing that he is saying over and over is that he didn’t walk into the salon with the intentions of having an affair. His phrasing about is something like: ‘I want you to know that I didn’t mean to have an affair. I didn’t intentionally set out to hurt you. I still don’t know how I let it happen but I did not plan it or intent for it to ever happen.’ He says this like it’s a very important fact and like this should make him less culpable. Honestly, it doesn’t matter all that much to me. Should it? Should I take this into account?”

Well, I suppose if we’re all being honest, we would rather the affair have “just happened” than having the knowledge that our husbands have been on one of those websites where both parties are trolling the internet and actively looking for someone with whom to cheat. Or, that our husbands have been going to bars in the hopes of picking someone up. So I can see why husbands will throw this out there. They want you to know that they were not actively pursuing cheating.

However, I have to tell you that very few people wake up in the morning and think: “boy, just look at the weather outside. I think that this is a good day to cheat. I think that this is the day that I will turn my life upside down.”

Most men will tell you that they didn’t intend to cheat, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t do it. And that doesn’t mean that their lack of intentions means that your marriage is less damaged. Regardless of what they meant, they did cheat and you are now dealing with the aftermath of infidelity regardless of anyone’s intentions.

So while it might be a little comforting to know that he never meant for it to happen, it did happen. And it happened more than once. Which means that he had time to process the first mistake and then instead of telling the other woman that they crossed an awful line and they must stop immediately, he went back.

I am not saying that you can not heal from this. People do it all of the time. I am just suggesting that his intentions (or lack of them) do not change your bottom line. If you wish the communicate the same, I’d suggest something like: “I hear what you are saying and I believe that you never intentionally set out to cheat on me. But regardless of your intentions going into it, you still cheated. And you cheated more than once. So you may not have gone into it wanting to be unfaithful. But once you were unfaithful, then you did it again over the course of an entire month. We have to deal with this regardless of what you intended to happen. We have to uncover why you did it once and you continued to do it. And we have to deal with why you’d go into a salon with no intentions of doing anything inappropriate and then come out being unfaithful. The damage is done. I know that you didn’t maliciously set out to hurt me, but I am still hurt. The lack of intentions do not mitigate the damage, which we still must deal with. I appreciate you sharing the information with me, but it doesn’t make much of a difference. We still have to deal with it and overcome it regardless of what your intentions were at the time. Frankly, I’m more worried about your intentions moving forward as it is going to take a lot of work and commitment to fix this.”

Honestly, once you begin the healing process, it should become clear that his intentions are not a huge factor into the equation. I understand why he is trying to make this distinction. He’s trying to show you that he wasn’t a bad person initially and that he would never intentionally hurt you. But at the end of the day, he did. And now it’s time to deal with that.

Frankly, when you break it down, healing is what matters most.  Not the reasons for the affair.  Not how it happened in the past.  But what happens now. You can read more about my own process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

He Cheated On Me. Why Do I Feel Sorry For Him?

By: Katie Lersch: Many wives who are dealing for a cheating husband do not feel any sympathy for him, no matter how much he begs for forgiveness or seems totally broken and pathetic while he is doing it. It seems that wives who do feel sympathy are in the minority. And this can make them wonder why they feel the way that they do and what is wrong with them.

A wife might say: “I am not going to tell you that I don’t feel anger and rage toward my cheating husband. I feel both of those things. I truly do. But somewhere along the way, I have started to feel sorry for him. I believe that he cheated because he has been under a great deal of stress. His brother, to whom he is extremely close, is ill. He just lost his job and he hates his new job, for which he is extremely overqualified. He made a mistake when fixing our home that caused our floors to warp and become flooded and we had to pay money that we couldn’t afford to get it fixed. So I believe that for the past few months, my husband has walked around feeling totally incompetent. When he told me about the affair, he sobbed. He said his worst fear was losing me because I was the only thing that kept him going. Maybe I am stupid, but I believe him. And I honestly feel sorry for him. Because he is clearly broken. My mother says that I am very naive to fall for this. She says he’s only trying to garner my sympathy so that he can cheat again and I will not suspect him. Is this true? We have been married for a long time and this is the first time that he has cheated.”

Why I Think That This Can Be Normal: I can’t predict the future, but I absolutely understand why you feel sympathy. Once I got over my fury at my own husband, I could see that he was a stressed out, broken person who was trying different things to get some relief. Granted, there is never an excuse to cheat in an attempt to get some relief. I would never defend someone who cheats on their spouse. But I firmly believe that most people who cheat only once and who have never shown any signs of it before are likely acting in a time of great personal crisis. And this is a time in their life when they are greatly struggling.  This doesn’t excuse it but I believe that it is true.  Because you love them, of course you feel empathy. And because you can still feel empathy, this can sometimes tell you important things about how you really feel (or don’t feel) about your marriage. So no, I don’t think that you are crazy, are too kind, or are giving your husband a pass to cheat on you.

Pitfalls To Avoid: Here is something that is very important. Even though it’s normal to feel empathy, it’s important that you don’t let this same empathy keep you from doing what needs to be done. Sure, your husband is going through a hard time and this likely contributed to him making a very bad decision. But he must learn new coping strategies and / or he must deal with whatever is the problem. Because you have to take care of yourself. And part of doing that is to make sure that he is not going to cheat on you again.

What I am saying is that you have to be very careful that your empathy doesn’t keep you from insisting that he does the work necessary to fully heal and to safeguard himself from this happening in the future. Because I think it’s safe to say that if he cheated again, you wouldn’t feel as much sympathy the second time around.

So while I understand feeling sympathy, you can’t allow this to take your focus away from the fact that he needs to act in your best interest also. The good news is that healing your marriage after an affair might also help him with his issues because it is going to force him to identity and to deal with them. Please resist the temptation to let him skip this step because it is going to bring up things that are painful for him. Yes, it will hurt and be uncomfortable. But if you don’t address it, then it is going to continue to hurt over and over and over again because it is not really ever resolved.

But to answer the original concern, there is nothing wrong with you. And I don’t think it’s naive or wrong to feel sympathy when someone has made a horrible mistake during a time of crisis. It is extremely unfortunate that his mistake is something that is going to hurt you and your marriage, but it’s not uncommon for this to happen. The key is to not let the sympathy keep both of you from going through the process of healing. Because there is never an excuse to cheat. And not dealing with the issues at hand only makes you vulnerable in the future.

As I said, I did feel somewhat sorry for my husband because he knew that he made a huge mess of things at a time when he was already dealing with a lot.  However, despite my sympathy, I did not excuse his behavior.  I required an awful lot of him.  But he knew that he deserved this.  And it helped us tremendously in the long run.   You can read more about our journey on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

I’m Not Sure That I Want To Know Everything About My Husband’s Cheating, But People Say I Have To

By: Katie Lersch: People often assume that a wife who finds out that her husband is cheating immediately wants to know EVERYTHING – with no topic off limits. And I do hear from a lot of people who are experiencing this type of thinking. But, I also hear from some wives who are not sure how much they really want to know.

Here is one example. A wife might say: “I caught my husband cheating on me. I am being completely honest when I say that I was shocked. I am not blind. I know that my husband is very outgoing and friendly – especially to women. But I always thought that this was just his personality. His mother says that he has always been a charmer. So it never concerned me and I actually found it endearing. When I confided to women who are my closest friends what was happening with me, none of them acted surprised at all. They said that all of the signs were there because my husband is the world’s biggest flirt. They say that he has always projected ‘being a player.’ I’m not sure exactly what they mean by this. When I told them that I wouldn’t rule out saving my marriage one day, they all insisted that if they were in my shoes, they would not even consider that unless my husband came clean about everything. They said it wouldn’t surprise them if there had been other affairs and that I should insist on full disclosure. I am wondering if they know something that I don’t. But the thing is, I am not sure that I want to know everything. I am not sure that I could handle knowing everything. I can only take little bits of information at a time right now. I don’t want to be overwhelmed knowing something that might make things worse. Are they right? Do I have to know everything?”

You don’t “have” to do anything. You get to decide what information that you want and when. And yes, this whole thing can be extremely overwhelming. I don’t think that people always understand or appreciate this. In my own situation, I did want all of the information because I wanted to know exactly what I (and my marriage) was facing. I felt that I needed all of the information in order to decide what course of action I wanted to take. My husband was apologetic and remorseful. But it was important to me to know if this was a one time thing or a reoccurring issue. This mattered to from a healing standpoint and in terms of rehabilitation.

However, I did not ask for – or receive – all of the information at once. I would ask a few things, become upset, walk away, process the information, and take a break. In a few days, we would have another conversation. And then maybe we would take a break from it and try to regroup. It was a gradual process for me because that was the only way I was going to be able to tolerate it.

It is ultimately your choice as to how much information that you want to ask for. Know that remaining in the dark is a decision that also has consequences. Yes, it may spare some pain. But it also means that you may be working without all of the facts. Some women are able to declare that the past should stay in the past and this works for them. I’m not here to judge anyone in regards to how they handle this. Because this is a very difficult situation. And no one can say what they would do until they have been through this. It is up to you to decide what is going to be best for you. Frankly, your friends can not make this decision for you, even though they often think that they are only trying to help you.

I would highly recommend considering a counselor to help you through this process. It’s often very difficult for us to have enough objectivity and expertise in order to navigate this in the most healthy way. People who are experts in healing can often guide you through this in a way that makes it a little less painful and lengthy.

But ultimately, it is up to you because it is your life and your marriage. Knowing as much as possible allows you to understand what you are dealing with, but it is also a lot to process. There’s nothing wrong with doing this gradually or on your own terms. I think that a lot of the time, we do not want the information because of fear. We are afraid of what we might learn. Sometimes, though, the information actually strengthens us, because it gives us the courage to face this head on. And that is sometimes true no matter what you find. Sometimes, the assumptions that you have made are somewhat worse than the truth.

As I alluded to, I did learn everything.  But not all at once.  I had to take small steps.  And that was OK.  I handled it in my own way and in my own time.  But ultimately, I did want to know. There’s more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Is He Staying With Me After The Affair Only Out Of Loyalty?

By: Katie Lersch: Many wives struggle with multiple doubts after their husband cheats or has an affair. This is especially true if their husband abruptly decides to end the affair in order to stay with them. Even the most confident wife often can not help wondering why he did this. She wants to know what would motivate him to leave a relationship that was so alluring that he would risk his marriage for it in order to go back to the woman he rejected by cheating in the first place. Many wives wonder if he is only staying with them out of a sense of loyalty or familiarity.

I might hear a wife say: “my husband had an affair with a younger woman from his job. He had a work function to attend right after I found out about the affair so of course I insisted on going with him. He was fine with this because he insists that the affair is over and that he is only motivated by his wish to save our marriage. At the party, there was a large mirror behind the buffet table. I was in the buffet line while the other woman was about six people behind me. When I looked up into that mirror I could see us from the same point of reference. And what I saw was not flattering to me. I keep myself in good shape. I am good looking for my age. But she is younger, thinner, and a bit prettier simply because gravity hasn’t taken hold yet. If I am being honest, when I looked at us and compared us, I have no idea why my husband would stay with me. I wonder if he is only staying with me out of a sense of loyalty. I have stood by him through some very hard times. I have supported him early on in our marriage when he was trying to better himself. I have always had his back and I wonder if that is why he is not walking away now. While I’m glad that he chose me, I’m not sure if I want him if he’s only with me because of loyalty. I want a husband who wants only me and thinks that he is lucky to have me. How can I find out why he is staying? I don’t want to ask him in the event that he hasn’t even thought of the loyalty angle. I don’t want to put that in his head if it isn’t already there.”

I don’t want to discourage you from asking your husband about his motivations, but before you do that, I’d like to give you a few things to consider.

First of all, what you are feeling is completely normal. And this is true even of the most confident women who know that they are attractive and capable. It’s normal to question why your husband would suddenly change his motivations so dramatically.  I’m not a cheating man, but I do hear from many of them. I have my theories as to why they stay. I can’t tell you that none of them stay out of a sense of loyalty or familiarity. I suppose both of these things could factor into the equation. However, even if they did, I’m not sure why this would be an entirely bad thing. Because a history is something that you absolutely have on your side and it is something that she absolutely can not take away. He knows what he is getting with you and he must find some comfort in that. Or he would not want to stay.

I’d like to make another point. It’s my belief that if I man absolutely did not want to stay with his wife, he wouldn’t. I don’t believe that a man would force himself to do something that is distasteful to him for the rest of his life even if he had the most loyalty in the world.

The truth is, most men who dialogue about this will tell you that they went back to their wives because they realized that they made a huge mistake. They realized that they risked a perfectly good thing for something that was fleeting and was more about their own insecurities than about their wife and their marriage. Once they realize this, they often hope that they are not too late with this realization. Sure, they may feel loyalty to you, but this usually is not their primary motivation. Their main motivation is usually trying to fix the mistake that they are now fully aware that they have made.

I understand the doubts. I struggled with them for a long time. But I eventually decided that the doubts provided more of a threat to my marriage than the affair, which was over. And the reason for this is that I was letting the doubts impact and damage my marriage over and over again.

And that is why I strongly encourage you to do whatever is necessary to increase your confidence and decrease the doubts. Now, time will help with this. But it’s often not enough. You often have to be very proactive. If something bothers you about yourself and erodes your confidence, fix that thing as soon as you can. Look for ways to show and tell yourself that you are unique and outstanding.

Honestly, if your husband didn’t think so, he wouldn’t be there. Us wives will often tell ourselves any number of things about his motivations, often at the expense of ourselves. It often never occurs to us that he is there because he decided that he wanted to be. But in my opinion, this is often the reality.

Do whatever you can to convince yourself that he is lucky to have you because you are worthwhile, brilliant, and beautiful.  Everyone has trouble believing this about themselves, especially after an affair.  But I feel, from my own experience, that you almost have to make it your job to convince yourself of your own worth.   You can read about my own process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com