Why Is My Husband So Defensive After His Affair? What Can I Do About It?

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from wives who are having trouble figuring out their husband’s odd or troublesome behavior after his affair. One common example of this is defensiveness. Many wives notice their husband acting particularly defensive to any question, comment, or remark.

I recently heard from a wife who said “no matter what I say to my husband, I get a very defensive remark back. I’m not always accusing him or even talking about the affair half of the time, but I still get the same response. It’s as if he’s constantly expecting me to attack or criticize him. I won’t deny that I am angry at and disappointed in him. But what does he expect? He cheated on me and he had an affair. Of course I’m going to have questions and some angry words. I feel that I deserve that. But it’s not as if I’m constantly harping on him about it. This doesn’t matter though. No matter what I say, how I say it, or what we are talking about, I’m going to get a defensive response. Why is this? And what can I do it about it?”

I will try to discuss these questions and concerns in the following article.

Reasons That Husbands Are Defensive After An Affair: As you might imagine, there are many reasons that men might feel or act defensive after an affair. He likely knows very well that you are disappointed and angry at him, so the defensive attitude and stance that you are seeing right now is almost a preemptive strike against that. He sometimes will feel that if he can strike first with the wall he’s built around himself, he won’t feel your disappointment, hurt and anger quite so deeply.

Another reason you might feel or see him being defensive is that he feels as if he needs to justify his behavior, even to himself. So he’s always waiting and ready to tell himself (or you) that he had his reasons for acting as he did. Sometimes, this is a reaction to his feeling guilty and ashamed for what he has done so he tries to counter this with his defensiveness.

Finally, I do sometimes have men contact me on my surviving the affair blog and tell me that they constantly feel attacked by their wives about the affair. Whether this is true or not, sometimes when men feel attacked, they strike back themselves in their own way, and this is often with those defenses that they have been rehearsing in their own head. In short, this is a way for them to feel better about themselves when they know that they truly have hurt you and have made a grave mistake.

What You Can Do When Your Husband Is Being Too Defensive After He Cheats Or Has An Affair: First, you have to understand that it’s human nature to want to defend yourself when you think you’re being made out to be the sole bad guy in a situation. With that said, I certainly don’t want to imply that you are anyway at fault because you are not. Your husband is the one who made the decision to cheat. However, if his attitude is hurting or frustrating you even more, then perhaps it’s time to have an open or honest discussion about this.

Here’s just one example. The next time you notice that your husband’s defensive behavior is driving more of a wedge between you or is making the situation worse, you may want to consider saying something like: “l can’t help but notice that your responses and reaction to me are very defensive lately. I understand that you may be feeling like you want to defend or explain yourself. But, your continuing to constantly be defensive and refusing to open up isn’t really doing us any good or making our marriage better. I can’t help having questions and being disappointed or angry, but I will try to make my comments sound less like personal attacks and more like legitimate concerns. If you do end up feeling attacked, please bring it to my attention so that I can be aware of it and stop. In the same way, I will bring it to your attention when you’re being too defensive so that we can both back up and start over. Because we’re both going to have to work together and bring down our defenses, accusations, and hurtful interactions if we can save our marriage and move on. And, whether you believe it or not, that truly is what I want to do. I want for us to heal and move on, but in order to do that, I need to be able to understand what lead up to this, how you feel right now, and what can do to keep this from happening in the future. Along those lines, I need you to be open and honest with me instead of being defensive. So can we agree to both approach this differently from now on?”

Do you see that I tried to keep things positive and direct? It’s important to stress what you really and truly want. Because if you can both keep your focus on saving the marriage and moving forward, you can hopefully take the focus away from the negative things that are going on like the defensiveness and accusations.

My own husband’s defensiveness after his affair was probably at least somewhat due to my constantly attacking and questioning him. However, at the time, I wanted and needed those answers. Eventually, once we changed our focus, this cycle drastically improved and we were able to save our marriage. If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Do Men Forget Their Affair Partners?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who spend a lot of time thinking about how their husband is going to feel about the other woman in the days to come. They also worry about how much (or if) he is still going to be thinking of her. Sometimes, the husband is telling the wife that, in time, he is going to forget all about this other woman. But understandably, the wife has a very hard time buying this.

A common comment in this scenario is: “I have read countless texts, letters, and emails between my husband and his affair partner. These documents are extremely hard for me to read but I force myself to do so because I truly want to know what I am up against. I truly want to know how my husband felt about this woman. My husband is begging me to take him back. He has ended the affair. He even got a new job so that I don’t have to worry about him seeing her. This is significant. Because he worked for many years to obtain the skills for his old job. I know how much it meant to him. And I know what it must have cost my husband to give this up. And these things do matter to me. But one thing that I absolutely can not move past is how my husband obviously feels about this woman and just how much effort and feeling he obviously poured into this relationship. I have been honest with my husband about this concern. And his response to me is that in time, he will forget all about her. He says that as we improve our marriage, he won’t think about her any more. I don’t buy this. Is it even possible for a man to forget about his affair partner?”

I will answer this question from who I am – which is a wife who has gone through infidelity. I can tell you that I sure wish it was possible for a cheating husband to forget all about the other woman. And yet, I don’t. And here is why. I realize that this is merely my own experience and my own perceptions. But frankly, I can remember the names of most people in my second grade class. I remember the apartment manager at my college apartment. I remember the office supervisor at my first job. I remember all of my coworkers also.

The point is, it is human nature to remember most of the people with whom you come in contact over your life time. And, the more intimate the relationship was that you had with the person, the more that you are likely to remember it. I am no longer in love with my junior high boyfriend, but I can still remember many aspects of his personality and appearance. And I don’t think that I could forget these things even if I wanted to. And this probably doesn’t even matter. But I am trying to make a point. Generally, you don’t just forget another human being who meant even a tiny bit to you. That’s not to say that your memories are meaningful, which leads me to my next point.

His Memories Of Her Do Not Mean That He Still Wants Her: I personally believe that it’s highly unlikely for any husband to “forget all about” the other woman as though he has amnesia. But, I do understand why he may want for you to believe this. What he’s really trying to say to you is that memories don’t matter. Actions do. I find it highly likely that, for time to time, he may think of her. But if your marriage has been rehabilitated, then he’s likely to think about it in terms of how big of a mistake it was and to wonder what he saw in her.

It’s probably a mistake to assume that every memory that he has of her is going to be favorable or full of longing. He may remember her and feel quite uncomfortable and full or remorse. And frankly, if your marriage has returned to a happy and healthy place, then memories of her don’t necessarily need to threaten you. The key is to be healed so that you no longer need to worry so much about it.

Sure, no wife wants for her husband to remember any other woman. But in truth, your husband likely remembers his 6th grade next door neighbor. And his first love. And a woman who may have impacted his professional career. That is just human nature.

So to answer the question posed, I believe that he probably will remember her from time to time. But I don’t think that memories need to threaten your marriage. It is behaviors and actions in real time that do that.

As you can probably tell, I firmly believe that healing counters most worries that follow the affair.  If it helps, you can read more about my own healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

I’m Not Sure If I Still Love Him After His Affair

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are not only unsure about how they feel about their marriage after their husband’s affair, they are unsure about how they feel about their husband himself.  I heard from a wife who said: “my husband cheated on me with our accountant.  I have known this woman for many years and I trusted her.  At the same time, I have been married to my husband for half of my adult life.  No one knows me better.  No one else has been through life’s up and downs with me in the way that he has.  He’s begging me to give him another chance and has promised intense counseling of my choosing.  My problem is that I’m not sure if I love him anymore.  I understand that I am angry with him.  But it’s more than that.  I need to respect someone to love them.  I do not respect what he did.  I am not attracted to someone with a lack of character and I feel that he doesn’t have the character that I thought that he did.  He says he will prove to me that the good parts of his character are still there.  And there have been moments that I will look at him and still feel some simmering of love, but then I think back to how he betrayed me and whatever I’m feeling is extinguished almost instantly. How do I know if I still love him? And what should I do in the meantime?”  I’ll try to answer these questions in the following article.

Why I Think It’s Best Not To Try To Sort Out Love Until You’ve Had Enough Time To Reflect:  The wife was probably right in her assumption that her anger and shock was clouding her feelings.  Because right now, all that she was able to see was how his character was lacking.  This is completely understandable and no one can blame her for this.  However, when all you can see are the bad parts of his character, you aren’t likely to see any of the good parts.  Which means that you aren’t looking at this even remotely objectively.  Any decision about your marriage is an important decision.  Give yourself the time to make the right one for you.  I know first hand that in the initial time period after the affair, your anger clouds almost every feeling that you have.  It’s nearly impossible to truly determine deep emotions like love or even hate in that emotional state.

Try This Exercise: Some women tell me that they know for sure that they hate their husband and no longer feel a shred of love for him.  They won’t even consider that their anger is clouding their feelings.  They are completely sure that every ounce of love that they ever felt for him is long gone.  So here’s an exercise to test that.  I’m not bringing this up to be cruel or to try to hurt you more.  I’m not even trying to prove you wrong. I’m just trying to give you some perspective.

Imagine that it’s five years from now and you’ve saved your marriage.  Imagine that you took your husband up on that offer for counseling and this actually improved your marriage to the point where you renewed your wedding vows. Imagine the dress and the look on your face when you say your vows all over again.  Can you imagine this scene without any strong emotions? (Positive or negative emotions count.)

Now imagine that it’s those same five years later but you went the other way.  Let’s say you determined that you didn’t love your husband because of his cheating and you divorced him.  So let’s say that he and the other woman picked up where they left off and that, because he couldn’t have you, they eventually married.  What if you ran into them one day and made small talk?  What is your reaction to this scene?  Anger? Sadness?  Something else?  Are you have a strong reaction at all? My point is, if you have strong reactions to either scene that I’ve just described, you’re still responding very strongly to your raw emotions.  Determining the outcome of your marriage (or even your feelings for your husband) when emotions are running this high can be the wrong call.

Why You Can Hate What He Did And Still Love The Person:  I think there’s an important distinction that many people miss here.  You can loathe with everything you have what your husband did.  You can be so angry that you feel as if you will explode.  But you can still deep down love the person even if this frustrates you.  It is totally possible to hate the act and still love the person.

And the reason for this is that one act, or one character flaw does not negate all of the kind, loving things this person has done or all of the positive character that they still have.  Nor does it negate your history. So to address some of the questions that this wife posed, I don’t think it’s possible to totally define any feelings of love or hate after the affair until you have given yourself plenty of time to process this.  And trying to rush the process could lead you to decisions that you might regret.

I will freely admit that I doubted my love for my husband after his affair. But, after I had time to reflect, I realized that I hated the act, but still loved the person and we eventually saved (and improved) our marriage. If it helps, you can read my story 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

Staying Together After Infidelity: When Does It Get Easier?

By: Katie Lersch:  I often hear from people who have made the very difficult decision not to walk away from their marriage after an affair.  Many have committed to this decision because they really do feel that it is the best thing for themselves, their family, or their marriage.  But despite their determination or best intentions, there’s no question that this is a very difficult process that moves on its own slow timeline.

Since it’s no fun to go through, people will often want to speed it up, or at least know when it might feel easier.  Someone might ask: “when is my marriage going to feel easier after my husband’s affair?  I agreed to try to make our marriage work.  And it took me a long time to get to that place.  In the first couple of weeks, it made me feel ill to even have him in my presence.  But eventually, I decided that splitting up would be so hard on my kids.  And my husband did seem genuinely remorseful and was begging me to give him a chance.  So I told him that I’d give him three months to show me that he was serious.  I can tell that he is trying. But things just feel so darn awkward between us.  When he hugs or tries to kiss me, I recoil and I am always suspicious of his motivations.  I wonder if he really feels this affection toward me or he is just trying to make me feel better.  I keep telling myself that tomorrow is going to be better.  But it never feels all that much better.  My husband alternates between being tentative and resentful.  I alternate between being distrustful, angry, and sad.  I was willing to give this a try.  But if it always going to feel this awful, I don’t know if I have it in me to stick it out.  When does it get better?”

Having gone through this, I can tell you that time does help.  But time alone typically not completely ideal.  I’ve thought long and hard about this and I believe that I can identify the happenings that made things easier for me.  I know that everyone’s experience is going to be different.  But maybe sharing this will offer someone a little reassurance.

It Helps When You Notice Your Husband Showing Sincerity And Integrity Over Time:  In the beginning, all you really have are his words and his promises.  You want to believe him.  But he’s proven some dishonesty.  So understandably, you worry that he’s not trustworthy.  In order for him to prove that he is in fact trustworthy, some time is going to have to pass.  And you are going to need to see that, over and over again, he is doing exactly what he has promised.  You need to see him having integrity and being sincere even when he thinks that you are not looking. You need to see him doing the right thing even when it’s not easy to do so.  Once this has been happening again and again, you can start to relax about his sincerity.

It’s Extremely Helpful When You Obtain A Plan Or Some Guidance: One of the biggest problems I see is that people proclaim that they are going to stay in their marriage, but then they don’t make any change or try to implement any rehabilitation.  As a result, every one lives in fear of the cheating happening again.  No one can relax. There’s no progress because there’s no plan.  It’s vital to have a roadmap to get yourself out of this.  A counselor can mean that you don’t have to work as hard or feel as lost because they can create the road map for you.  But if you don’t want to go the counseling route, there are many self help resources that can allow you to do this for yourself.

It’s Beneficial When You Begin To Understand That With Determination, This Isn’t Going To Beat You:  I know first hand that there is a real tendency to beat yourself up after infidelity.  Even when you are not the one who cheated, you can feel like you did something wrong.  You can feel like you’re being punished again and again.  I found it helpful to get out of the victim mentality.  It also helped immensely when I worked on building my self esteem.  Once I gained confidence, I realized that no matter what happened, I would be OK.  I realized that I did not need to define my life and my happiness through someone else.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I want my marriage.  I want my husband.  But I also know that if either of these things were taken away, I’d be OK.  Because I am always going to have myself.  Knowing that you are going to be OK regardless is very freeing.  And it helps to remove the intense pressure and the paralyzing anger.  When you realize that you are responsible for your own happiness and your own experience, you feel so much more in control.

And frankly, a lack of control is one of the things that makes an affair so devastating.  One way to take back that control is to strengthen yourself so that you know that someone else’s whims and mistakes are not going to define you.

No one expects all of the above to happen immediately or simultaneously.  But when they do happen, you feel relief.  It does get better.

I remember when I was in the same place that you are now.  I was afraid that every day was going to be the same miserable experience.  Very slowly, as I acted with deliberation and kept track of my progress, I began to see some improvement.  I learned that things moved more slowly when I waited for improvement rather than actively trying to get it.  You can read more about that process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

The Other Woman Revealed The Affair Publicly. I Feel Like I Can’t Even Show My Face.

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from wives who actually know the “other woman” or have to interact with her.  This is a very hard situation.  But it is even worse when the other woman “reveals” the affair to a circle of other people in order to enhance your pain.   As a result, not only are you dealing with the affair, your husband, and her, but you are also having to deal with outsiders who really have nothing to do with the affair.  This should be no one else’s business. And yet, the other woman has made it so that outsiders know.

A wife might say: “my husband told me about the affair before the other woman blurted it out to everyone.  So I can’t say that I was completely thrown off guard.  But no one else knew until she made her huge announcement.  And I would not have told anyone.  The other woman is on the same board that I am on at my child’s school.  We were having a meeting and she made a ridiculous suggestion, which I shot down.  I was talking only about things that pertained to the meeting, but she blurted out ‘oh, she’s just mad because I’ve been sleeping with her husband for two months.’  No one said anything.  The room was dead silent.  I was so mortified that I left.  And I have been unable to show my face since.  I drop my son off and do not walk in to school anymore.  I am so embarrassed.  I can’t stand the thought that everyone knows and is talking about me, my marriage, and my family.  I told my husband, but since he’s already broken it off, he says there isn’t much that he can do because he does not want to talk to the other woman anyway.  I have no idea what I want to do about my marriage.  My husband has offered to move if I find living here to be too difficult.  But I can’t do anything until the school year is over.  I don’t want to disrupt my son.  So that means I’m stuck with all of my acquaintances knowing what happened.  I am going to quit the committee that the other woman is on.  But I still will have to see her at school sometimes, as well as the other moms.  I don’t know how I’m going to show my face.”

I completely understand why you are so upset.  And I find the other woman’s behavior absolutely appalling.  But I think it is SHE who should be mortified, not you.  I do understand why you feel embarrassed.  Many of us feel embarrassed, although we are innocent.  You are not the one who did anything wrong.  You understandably did not stick around to see how the other women at the meeting reacted, but if I had been in that room, it is the other woman who I would have judged harshly, not you.  She is the one who was in such desperate need of attention that she had to bring up something which had nothing to do with the meeting and was only intended to hurt someone else.  I know that it’s very easy to assume the worst and to fear that the women in the meeting are gossiping about you.  But I would suspect that maybe they are gossiping about HER instead.  It should not be you that can’t go out in public.  You should have every right to be comfortable at your son’s school.

If it were me, I would contact the chair of the meeting or one of the women to whom you are closest.  I would tell her that you are considering how best to handle the committee since obviously both you and the other woman being on it together is going to cause awkwardness and tension for all involved.  I honestly think that there is a chance that they would ask the other woman to leave, since her comments were completely inappropriate.  If you enjoy the committee, why should you have to leave when you didn’t do anything wrong?

I very much understand the tendency to want to hide out right now.  I had this inclination also.  But when you do that, you only make it harder to put two feet in front of the other, hold your head high, and continue to live your life.  You are not the guilty party here.  You should be able to live your normal life if you want to.  Granted, some families are more comfortable moving and starting over after an affair.  But if you don’t want to move, you should not have to.  And if you want to stay on the committee, you should be able to.  You are not the one who made the comment.  You are not the one who cheated on your spouse and announced it in public.  So there is no reason for you to act like the guilty party.  I know it’s difficult, but I’d suggest holding your head high and continuing on with the activities that gives you back your comfortable routine.  The other woman has disrupted your life enough.  There is no reason to give her the power to make you feel uncomfortable at your son’s school.

I understand the humiliation associated with this.  I felt it too. But I also came to realize that some of it was in my own head.  I assumed that people were talking about and pitying me, but I learned that people really do have their own problems.  They really don’t worry about (or even think of) us as much as we assume.  I did eventually recover from my husband’s affair and I no longer feel embarrassed because I did not do anything wrong.  You can read more about that on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Spouse Doesn’t Deserve My Cheating. Why Am I Such A Jerk?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who are grappling with overwhelming guilt from cheating on their spouse. Many of them would give anything to turn back time before they could damage their marriage. Many of them are fully aware that their spouse deserves better. So not only are they mortified by their behavior, but they don’t understand it, especially when they admittedly have a good spouse who did nothing to justify the cheating.

I might hear from a husband who says: “my best friend says that this is my guilt talking. But I don’t think that he is right. I don’t deserve my wife. When I look back on our marriage, she has been nothing but loyal, loving, and supportive. That’s why I have no idea why I had an affair. Once I came to my senses, I broke it off, but now I know that I have no choice but to confess what I have done. She deserves a husband who doesn’t lie and who doesn’t cheat. I am so angry at myself. And I don’t understand what would make me do this to someone who has only supported and loved me. She is beautiful and sweet. She is the best wife that anyone could ask for and yet I’ve been cheating on her with a very low quality person who isn’t even fit to wipe her boots. Why am I such a jerk? I am considering telling her that I won’t fight her in a divorce because I am well aware that she deserves better.”

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due: I think that, in the end, it’s going to be up to her to decide what she wants and deserves. I also think that you have to give yourself some credit for standing up and taking responsibility and for not trying to justify your cheating. Many people take the easy way out and try to blame their spouse for choices which were ultimately their own. You may have realized too late that the cheating was a mistake, but you DID realize it and you are willing to own up to it. This may mean something to your spouse.

Consider Self-Sabotage: As far as to why you cheated on someone who was by all accounts a very good spouse, I am not a therapist, but I’ve witnessed that it’s quite common to self-sabotage when you don’t feel deserving of your spouse or you think that your spouse is too good for you. Rather than working on yourself, trying to improve, or just seeing if your spouse shares your perceptions (because many do not,) you will subconsciously participate in behaviors that put the thing that you value most (your wife and your marriage) at risk. I know that this sounds crazy, but it is by no means rare.

Going Forward: Once you tell your wife, your options are really going to depend on what she wants moving forward, as you will want to respect her wishes, since she truly is innocent in all of this. If she is open to saving the marriage, then in my opinion you’ll want to have two goals in this regard. You want to figure out exactly why someone in a happy marriage with a supportive spouse would need to cheat. If it is indeed self-sabotage, low self esteem, or the like, then you’ll need to work very hard to overcome whatever issue is driving the risky behaviors. You will need to eradicate these behaviors so that your spouse doesn’t have to go through this again. This really can become a vicious cycle – with your participating in the undesirable behaviors and then becoming angry at yourself so that the behaviors just keep cycling. This cycle isn’t an excuse for your behavior, but it is most definitely a good idea to be aware of it so that you don’t repeat it.

The second goal should be to become the person who your spouse deserves moving forward. It won’t be beneficial to anyone if you walk around with low self esteem, just waiting for your wife to realize that she could do better. Instead of waiting for the shoe to fall, why not actually become better so that you no longer think in those terms. Since this person is your wife, you likely know that is most important to her. You know which traits she most values. Your job is to encompass those values so that in time, she knows that she can count on you to be her safe place to fall. Make no mistake about it. Getting to this safe place after infidelity takes a lot of work, a lot of patience, and a lot of time. But it’s worth the effort because it minimizes your risk of more infidelity in the future and we have already established that your spouse deserves better than this. You deserve better, too, which is why it’s important that you evaluate and move forward rather than just allowing the guilt to keep you stuck, which doesn’t benefit anyone.

Recovery from an affair is definitely possible, but I would never tell you that it’s easy or fast.  Neither is true.  However, most people that I know who have been through it believe that it was worth it, myself included. You can read more of my own story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

What Are The Long Term Effects Of An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: Sometimes, when your spouse is having an affair, it’s very difficult to think beyond tomorrow – much less well into the future. But once the shock wears off and the dust settles, many faithful spouses realize that this is exactly what they have to do. Because, in order to make a sound decision about the course of your marriage, it makes sense to consider what your marriage might look (and feel like) into the future. But this is often difficult to gage and it’s a topic that you know is so important that you don’t want to just guess at it.

I might hear from a wife who says: “my husband is begging me not to leave him because of his affair. I have agreed to wait a couple of months before I make a decision. But sometimes, I regret making this promise. I truly would like to save my marriage, but I’m not going to be naive about it either. My husband likes to pretend that we can just pick up our marriage like the affair never happened. I know that this is very short sighted. I know that this isn’t reality. I have had friends who have dealt with the reality of an affair and it seems to me that almost all of them continue to struggle, long after the affair is over. I’m just wanting to understand what are the long term effects of an affair on a marriage? What does our long term future look like?”

This is a very difficult question to answer. Because honestly, the answers depend upon several variables like the depth of the deception, the length of the affair, the state of the couple’s marriage after the affair, and the amount of work done during recovery.

The Long Terms Effects Of An Affair Can Be Both Positive And Negative.  But The Marriage Is Rarely Completely Unchanged: While the truth is that it’s very likely that you are not going to have the same marriage after the affair, what is often up in the air is whether this will weaken or strengthen your marriage. To be fair, I’m going to list common negative and positive long term effects after an affair because I feel like both are completely possible. Honestly, the course that you end up on is, at least in some ways, up to you and your spouse and how much work and effort you’re willing to undertake.

Some people don’t believe their spouse deserves their efforts and this is a fair argument. I understand it. I’m not trying to tell you what you should do. I’d just like to give you a glimpse into possible outcomes, keeping in mind that all couples are different.

Negative Long Term Effects Of An Affair: I would say that most every couple knows those neighbors or mutual friends who have a marriage that is rocked by an affair but who never truly recovers. Although this couple stays together, it’s often clear that they are doing so reluctantly and that there is still a good deal of anger present. There can also be resentment by both parties. The faithful spouse has resentment for obvious reasons. She has been wronged. But the cheating spouse can feel resentful too. Because he can feel as if he’s going to have to pay for this mistake forever. And he can feel as if his spouse wants to make him grovel for the rest of his life, no matter how remorseful he is and no matter how much he tries to make amends.

In short, this couple is beaten down. Both of the are well aware that this isn’t a great marriage and that neither one is happy or at peace. But, they just accept this as their lot in life. Often, they really do not want to live this way. They would like for things to be better. But they just do not know how to cross over toward healing. And so they feel stuck, frustrated, and a little bit angry most of the time. At the same time, they don’t want to let their spouse off of the hook by just walking away.

Positive Long Term Effects Of An Affair: I hope that the above couple of paragraphs weren’t too depressing. There is some good news. First, couples like the ones described above don’t have to live this way forever. You can always chose a new way. You can always begin to heal even when you think it has been way too long.

And, some couples actually find themselves in better marriages than before the affair. I know that this is hard to believe. When a therapist told me this, I thought she was only trying to sell her services to us, at one of the most awful times in our marriage. But, with time, I can tell you that this is true. I’ve seen it in my own life and in the life of others. It is not easy. It is not automatic. And it’s also not constant. There are ups and downs. I’m not going to tell you that every day in my marriage is rosy and that I never think about the affair because that wouldn’t be true.

But I can tell you that bad days are mostly rare. In fact, our communication today is actually stronger than it ever was. We speak up if there is something wrong because we know what can happen when we become complacent. I have also made big changes in myself and in the way that I look at marriage and all relationships.  My relationship with my husband is something I chose. It is not something that I depend on to define myself. Never again will I depend on someone else for my own happiness and self esteem. I trust my husband. I do not believe that he will cheat again. But if he does, it’s not going to make me think less of myself. I spent a lot of time building myself up and becoming the type of person that I want to be. In part because of the affair, I have learned that all I can really control is myself and the way that I live my life. This has changed my outlook on control. I used to want to control my husband, keep him on a short leash, and make him feel guilty if he disappointed me. Now, I realize that this is manipulation based on fear. And it’s not the way that I want to live my life. I can be responsible for my own happiness. And in turn, this has opened up our relationship so that we feel much less pressure. We know that we are both here because we want to be. And this really has transformed our relationship.

I hope this article has shown you that there are almost always long term consequences of an affair. Your marriage is rarely unchanged. But those changes can be positive and negative.If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

A Letter To The Husband Who Cheated And Had An Affair: What Should It Say?

by: katie lersch: I often hear from women who are struggling to work through their husband’s cheating or affair.  Many ask me about writing a letter to put their struggles into words.  Some have even asked me for a sample letter or requested for me to write one for them.  I honestly think it’s advisable to be careful and deliberate about any letter that you are going to give your husband.   Because this can often set the tone for recovery. And often, such a letter leads to a lot of hurt feelings or misunderstandings.  Plus, it’s also important to remember that your feelings are likely to change a great deal in the coming days, months, or even years.

But I do understand the allure of a letter.  It’s often very challenging to put the difficult things that we feel into verbal words. And so often, we choke up, get emotional, or break down when we try.  So we feel like written communication or a letter is going to be easier and more effective.  Although I certainly can’t write such a letter for you, I can give you some guidelines on what it might say which I’ll do below.

A Letter Can Be Used To Release Your Feelings About The Affair. (In Fact, Sometimes A Letter That You Never Give Your Husband Can Be Beneficial:)  Many women are looking to write such a letter because they feel that doing so is going to allow them to release some very painful and closed off feelings.  I highly encourage writing such a letter.  In fact, even if you do want to craft a letter for your husband, I suggest writing one just for yourself that no one else will see.

Because this is where you can really let your feelings out without having to edit yourself or worry how your words are going to be perceived.  Many women chose to burn the letter (or at least hide it) once it’s written because these words are for no one else but you.  Since you are the only one who is going to read this letter, there’s no need to  hold back.  Just let it all out and then either dispose of it or put it somewhere where only you can find it.  Because it’s just meant to release your feelings, there really is no need to keep it around or to share it.  Now, let’s move on to the letter that you might be considering writing for your husband’s benefit or view.

Carefully Consider What You Want Your Husband To Take Away From The Letter Before You Write It Or Give It To Him: I strongly suggest that before you write any letter, you examine what you hope to accomplish with it.  I have to be honest. Many women admit to me that they write the letter because they want their husband to feel guilty or remorseful about the affair.  They want to show him how badly he’s hurt them.  They want to give him a glimpse into their battered soul so he can see just how deep the damage that he caused goes.

I completely understand this as I had the same intentions.  And that’s why it’s advisable to examine why you’re really writing the letter.  Although many don’t admit this even to themselves, many of us want to write the letter because we want to improve our situations.  We’re hoping that if our husband sees how we really feel and how deeply he’s really hurt us, he’ll be so remorseful that he will not cheat again and will move heaven and earth to make this up to us.

And yet, often the letter has the reverse affect.  Yes, it makes the husband feel very bad and guilty.  But many husbands tell me that they just see the letter as just more of the same.  I’ve actually had men tell me things like “she’s not saying anything in the letter that I don’t already know or she hasn’t already said.  I already get that I’m a bad husband who did a very bad thing so why do we need to keep repeating the same thing over and over?  I’ve already told her that I was sorry and want to save the marriage.  So how is this going to change because the words are written rather than spoken?  To me, this is just one more way for her to express how disappointed she is in me and how much I’ve let her down.  But, I already know this.  I don’t need for her to keep repeating it.”

This is why it’s so important to clearly define your objections for the letter before and while you’re writing it and to ask yourself how your husband might receive or interpret it before you give it to him.

What I Think A Letter To A Husband Who Cheated Or Had An Affair Should Include: I actually think that a well crafted letter can help a marriage after an affair.  But, you have to be very careful. Because some letters actually harm the marriage or set it back for months.  The real power that I think the right letter holds is that it can clear up any misconceptions or understandings and it can underscore your intentions and your plans moving forward.  It truly can set the tone for the days and months ahead.

For example, rather than just continuing to stress how much the affair has hurt you, you might also mention what you’d like to happen moving forward, what you need for these things to happen, and what your intentions truly are.  In my mind, such a letter could include three parts – current feelings, current needs, and future intentions.  I realize that it’s not realistic to think that you aren’t going to include how the affair or cheating has hurt you or made you feel, but I’d suggest not making this the sole content of the letter because your husband likely already knows this and if you go on and on, he’s likely not going to take away what you were hoping for.

After you briefly touch on your feelings, you then may consider focusing or explaining what you need from him in the days and weeks ahead.  If you want him to give you more reassurance, affection, and accountability, then use the letter to your advantage and ask for it.  Many of us find it easier to put these difficult requests into writing.  And the additional advantage is, for future reference, you’ve spelled out what you need to move forward.

Finally, it’s helpful to include your intentions moving forward.  I can’t tell you how many couples aren’t sure what their spouse really wants in the aftermath of the affair.  If you truly want to save your marriage even though this affair shook you to your core, now is the time to write that and to tell your husband what you need and how you intend to get there.

My initial attempt at writing a letter after my husband’s affair turned out quite badly because I gave him a letter that should have been meant only for my own eyes.  Later, I changed course with my tone and intention and this made a huge difference.  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 beyond the letter, but it was worth it.  If it helps, you can read more of that very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

My Husband Doesn’t Understand How His Affair Affected Me

by: katie lersch: I often hear from wives who are struggling to make their husbands understand just how devastating and far reaching his affair truly was. Many wives struggle with making their husband understand that moving on or getting over the affair is going to take far longer (and much more work) than the husband may have realized.

I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “my husband’s affair has been over for about three months.  It’s becoming obvious that he feels like my time to grieve and process this is up.  He wonders aloud when I’m going to recover and for how much longer I’m going to “dwell on” the affair or on the past.  He often makes comments like ‘the past is in the past.  Now it’s time to move on and start again.  We can’t life our lives always dwelling on the past or dredging up the pain from yesterday.’   It’s as if he thinks that I should just turn off my feelings or quiet my doubts because he’s tired of having to deal with my pain.  He doesn’t seem to understand how his affair affected me and continues to affect me.  It floored me.  It hurt me deeply.  It made me question my judgment, my marriage, and my ability to trust and to love.  I no longer feel like the same person in the same marriage.  I am trying to improve and move forward, but I certainly don’t like feeling rushed or being made to feel as if I’m not making progress fast enough.  I don’t think that any of this is fair.  How is it right that he gets to hurt me this way and then get impatient as I try to recover?  How can I make him understand how his affair affected me so that he has more patience during my recovery? Because every time I try to explain this to him, he says I’m dwelling on the past or holding onto the pain.”  I’ll address these concerns in the following article.

Actions That Probably Won’t Make Your Husband Understand How His Affair Affected You: Before I get into some things that might help with this situation, I’d like to go over some very common reactions and strategies, that, although understandable, often don’t work all that well.  Many wives will wonder if having their own affair will “force” their husband to see just how it feels to be cheated on.  So, many will consider cheating (or at least making their husband think that they are.)  I so rarely see this work or even not turn out to be a disaster. The husband is often so angry that he’s not in any position to feel any empathy for or try to understand the wife any better.  And the wife will often have even more baggage to carry and even more feelings and struggles to deal with.

Another thing to wives are often tempted to try in this situation is to attempt to communicate in a very dramatic way so that their husband has no choice but to listen or pay attention.  A wife will often tell me that she finally explodes and begins yelling things like: “do you have any idea how this feels?  Do you have any idea what it’s like to know that your spouse who was supposed to love, honor and cherish you slept with someone else?  Do you any idea what this does to your self esteem and your ability to trust?”  Although these are all valid questions which often might cause your husband to slow down and think, we often say them in such a way that he feels defensive rather than sympathetic.

Understand Why Your Husband Probably Doesn’t Completely Want To Know Or Understand Just How Deeply His Affair Affected You: Here’s something else I’d like for you to consider.  Even if your husband doesn’t realize this,  he often has a vested interested in downplaying just how devastating his affair has been to you.  He usually already feels a lot of guilt and remorse about his actions.  And he really wants to believe that you and will recover because this helps to alleviate some of his guilt.

So if he has to face the difficult truth that you are still hurting, still struggling, and not yet recovered from actions that he set into motion, then he still has to feel those negative feelings of guilt, shame and remorse all over again.  Often, the husband who cheated wants to feel better and wants to recover in the same way that his wife does.  But part of his being able to feel better about himself means that you feel better too.  So he’s often reluctant to admit or acknowledge when this isn’t happening.  But you can sometimes use this knowledge to your advantage.

Tips On How To Make Your Husband Understand The Multiple Ways That His Affair Has Affected You: I understand that you are extremely motivated to get your husband to understand the way that you feel and why you’re struggling.  But  you are more likely to get the result that you want if you can deliver the message with calm, measured words so that it’s clear that you’re not trying to hurt him, but are merely trying to make him understand you better.

So, at time when emotions aren’t boiling over and you are as calm as is possible, you might consider saying (or writing) something like:  “I know that both of us just want to feel better and want to move on.  I want that too.  But I want for you to understand why I’m struggling because of how deeply this affair has affected me.  I’m not telling you this to make you feel worse or continue to pin point blame.  My intention is for you to understand what I’m feeling so that hopefully you can help me to move forward so that we can both feel some relief eventually. But please understand that your affair has made me reluctant to trust you and my own perceptions.  I do want to move on and to trust again, but this is a struggle for me because when I did those things before, I was betrayed.  And I’m reluctant to offer my trust again because I never want to feel this type of pain again in the future.  This has made my doubt myself, my own desirability, and our ability to put our marriage first before we make decisions that might destroy it.  I’m not telling you this to paint a negative picture or to insinuate that we can’t or will never recover.  I just want for you to know how and why I’m struggling so that you will have patience with me and help me to move past this.  I’m asking you to imagine that it was you who were the one who was betrayed before you’re critical of my progress or lose your patience with me.”

I know that making him understand you and your struggles is difficult.  But sometimes, you just have to keep moving forward while continuing to have patience with yourself and demanding that you be given the time and space to heal.  Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, after a long struggle, I did eventually truly get over the affair. It didn’t happen overnight, but I know 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/

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