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

Is It True That Men Get Over Affairs Faster Than Women?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from people who are want to save their marriage after infidelity, but who are very concerned that their spouse is not yet “over” the other person – even when their spouse insists that there is nothing left to the cheating relationship.

Many men like to claim that the affair meant little or nothing to them, but women have a hard time believing this.  A wife might say: “my husband had an affair with a woman who he went to high school with.  He saw her at his class reunion which I did not attend because of other obligations.  They were not old flames or anything like that. Apparently alcohol was involved and then after the sex they carried on with an online and text affair.  They were only together that one time.  My husband is telling me that he did not really care deeply for this woman.  But reading some of their texts makes me question this.  My husband is claiming that he can just end the relationship immediately. He acts like he doesn’t care enough about her to dwell on it.  I question this.  I am not saying that he’s lying to me – exactly.  But I don’t know how a relationship can be important enough to cheat on your wife over but not so important to discuss it when you end it. I have never had an affair.  But I do admit that my first love started texting me a couple of years ago.   And just that communication alone became very deep and meaningful.  When I told him we couldn’t talk anymore because it just wasn’t appropriate, it quite frankly, broke my heart.  It took me months to get over it.  But I knew my marriage was more important to me.  My mother told me that men get over affairs more easily than women because for men it is more about the sex and for women it is more about the emotions.  Is this true?”

Well, I will concede that most people do believe this to be true.  I think it’s probably a mistake to assume that men don’t cheat for emotional reasons or can not be emotionally invested in the other person.  They do and they can.  I hear from men who are emotionally attached in an affair.

My Non-Scientific Perceptions: However, if I’m being honest, I do have to say that it is much more common to hear from a woman who is emotionally invested in an affair and having a hard time letting go than a man.  That’s not exactly scientific data – I know. It’s quite possible that women are more comfortable reaching out, as I’m a woman too.  But I do hear from a lot more women who know that they need to save their families but who feel strongly that they are in love with the other man and that he understands them more than anyone else.   That’s not to say that men don’t feel this way.  But I find that for women, it is so important for them to feel heard, understood, and appreciated.  They don’t mention sex nearly as much when they talk about the other person.  They mention the feelings.  They mention the emotions. They mention not wanting to let go.

Men can mention the feelings, but they also mention the physical connection – or the sex.  They often mention feeling alive – which is sometimes sort of double speak for the buzz that they get from the novelty of sex with someone new.  I don’t want to imply that it is all about sex for men or even that it is all about a relationship with no expectations.  Because I don’t believe that either of these things are true.  But I do hear a lot of men say that the other woman didn’t make demands of him, while women rarely say this.

And I think that might be part of why we have the perception that men can walk away from an affair more easily.  There were no expectations, so what is the harm in just walking away? It’s perceived that men are less likely to look at it in the long term.  Many men who have affairs don’t intend to leave their wives.  They don’t intend for her to find out.  So yes, when they tell you that they can walk away, many of them mean it.

I am not telling you that a man can not fall in love with the other woman and then miss her horribly and mourn when he lets her go.  That does happen.  But I see it happening less with men than with women.  And that might sound stereotypical and it may be because I hear from more women than men.

But it does seem to me that many men are able to move on quite quickly. Once their wives find out and they decide to save their marriages, many have no qualms about ending the affair immediately and totally.  And in this case, when the husband was only with the woman one time – it makes sense to believe that perhaps this wasn’t a meaningful, deep relationship.

If you think about, you said that you ended the correspondence with your first love because your priority was your husband.  In essence, he may well be doing the same.  I know that you want to know if he’s still thinking of her.  But in the end, if he chooses to make your marriage a priority and you do also, then this is the best place to turn your attention. 

I did worry in the beginning that my husband would have a hard time getting over the affair.  But you know what? It was actually me that had the hardest time getting over it. He was ready to move on immediately.  And I took much longer.  You can read more about it on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Husband Said He Felt “Empty” So He Had An Affair. What Does This Even Mean?

By: Katie Lersch:  If I’m being honest, I’m not sure that any of my husband’s excuses for an affair were going to ring true for me, especially at first.  When you are dealing with the shock of an affair, you are defensive.  You are angry.  So when your husband starts will the defenses which indicate that something was missing in his life, it’s very easy to reject these outright.

Some of us will debate that anything was wrong.  And some of us will accept that something was wrong, but will stop short of believing that the flaw was any sort of excuse.  Sometimes, it is very hard to understand what he means when he gives you vague terms as excuses.  One such excuse is the description of feeling “empty.”

Someone might say: “I honestly could not believe it when I caught my husband having an affair. I never thought that he was the type and I thought that our marriage was good.  My husband has always been disappointed in friends who have cheated on their wives.  So I never could have anticipated this.  At first, he refused to talk about any aspect of the affair.  He would get angry and quiet.  His face would turn red.  I honestly think he’s a little bit embarrassed.  In the past week, I’ve been very clear about telling him that I expect answers.  And that if I don’t get them, our marriage might be over.  So finally be blurted out that he just felt ‘empty’ and this his eyes got all teary.  I guess he thought I would feel pity for him, but honestly, all this confession did was to make me feel anger and a loss of respect.  What a cry baby.  What a whiner.  My life isn’t always great but you don’t see me going out and ruining my life and cheating on people.  What the heck does this even mean anyway – ‘empty?’  How does one feel empty?  It’s just ridiculous to me.”

We all know the literal definition of empty.  The dictionary definition is “containing nothing.  Not filled or occupied.”  But the emotional definition of empty is a little more difficult to grasp.  When someone says they feel empty, it means that they feel flat.  They don’t feel fulfilled.  They feel as though their life lacks purpose.

Frankly, I’ve heard a lot of depressed people say that they feel empty.  Because when you are down emotionally, it is easy to focus on a feeling of lack.

Even if your husband is being completely honest with you (and I don’t know why he would lie about this, since it’s not exactly flattering,) it doesn’t excuse his cheating.  But it does indicate that he’s willing to open up.  And it does give you a starting point.

Unfortunately feeling empty isn’t a very specific complaint and addressing it isn’t going to be a quick fix.  You can’t just suddenly fill your husband’s emotional cup.  His lack is his own.  And no one else can fill him except for himself.  It must come from within him.

Common Reasons For Feeling ‘Empty:’ There are many reasons people feel empty.  Some are disappointed with how their life has turned out so far.  Others feel that they are lacking purpose so they don’t feel that they make a difference in this world.  Others feel like they are just treading water in their life without any real meaningful direction.  Identifying the feelings is something that your husband is going to need to do for himself because you can’t possibly know how he feels and what he is thinking.

Good counseling can help your husband identify what is lacking and help him formulate a plan to feel better.  Many people do not have the self knowledge or the ability to objectively look at themselves to see what is really happening.

The good news is that often, once the person finds their way again, they no longer have the need to seek out risky or dangerous behaviors in order to feel whole (or to feel anything for that matter.)

Feeling empty isn’t an excuse for cheating, but it is a route that many people will take.   Nothing in their life makes them feel alive or brings a flush to their face.  They get desperate to feel anything at all.  So the affair is an attempt to get them to feel, to get them engaged again.

Of course, the better option would have been for him to have sought that feeling at home.  Once more, I am not excusing his cheating.  I am just speculating as to what he might be trying to express.  And I want to stress that although it may be tempting to try and fix this for him, this isn’t something that anyone but him can and should address.

Certainly, you can support him.  You can encourage him to seek counseling or self help.  This is true even if you aren’t sure about your marriage.  Whether you are angry with him or not, he is an important person in your life, and I’m sure you want him to get help for this.  But you can not fill him or take away his emptiness.  Only he can do that.  And it’s important that he does.  Because you can not give someone something that you do not have.

You can not give another person love and stability when you yourself are not feeling that internally.  I hope that this article may have give you some insight on what your husband may have meant by feeling empty.  By no means is an excuse, but it may be an attempt to express why he acted.

When my husband first tried to explain his affair, I thought he was just speaking of empty excuses.  Later, I realized that his insights were actually very important because they needed to be addressed for the benefit of any future relationship between us.  Try to see this as a clue and not as an excuse.   There’s more about my own struggles and realizations on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Husband Had An Affair And Now He’s Claiming To Be Depressed Due To The Shame And Guilt

By: Katie Lersch: It is normal for both spouses to struggle after an affair. People often assume that it is just the faithful spouse who struggles. But this isn’t the case. The spouse who cheated can feel deep shame and guilt – which can lead to a feeling of worthlessness and depression. And these things can add more challenges to an already difficult situation.

A wife might say: “my husband says that he is overwhelmed with guilt and shame because of his affair. He deserves to be. He made a profile on an online dating site and he pretended to be single. He met a woman and began an affair. This woman found out about me and she called me to apologize. At first, I hung up.  But I later called her back because I realized that I had been very rude. Because once I thought about it and I read his profile, I realized that none of this was her fault. He lied to both of us. She started a relationship with a man she thought wasn’t married. I can’t really be mad at her. But I sure am mad at him. I do not understand how he could do this. I am a good person. We have a good marriage. There was nothing awful for him to escape so that he had to go on a dating website. And I admit that I am very vocal about my confusion. Last night, I was trying once again to ask my husband why he would do this. He blurted out that he doesn’t know why and that he’s horribly depressed and overcome with feelings of embarrassment and worthlessness. I almost feel as if he says these things because he wants me to stop talking about the affair and to stop asking questions. Suddenly I am supposed to handle him with kid gloves because he’s sad? Well, I’m really sad too. I could be depressed too. But it is because of what he did. It doesn’t seem fair that he can just pull the depression card every time he doesn’t want to talk about what a loser he was with this affair.”

This is a tricky situation. Because depression isn’t something that he can prove or something that you can disprove. And depression is not something that you should ever take lightly.

Still, in order for you to feel that you are getting what you need, you’re going to need to talk about the affair and get your questions answered.  And he is going to need for you to do this carefully because of his depression. This leaves you facing a situation that is very difficult to navigate.

I’m not a therapist or counselor, but I really can not recommend one enough in this situation. And I would not be surprised if she didn’t address the depression and the affair as separate issues.  Men who are depressed often have affairs.  It is their attempt to feel better and to have some relief from their emptiness.  And if his depression is untreated, it may well be more difficult to work toward any meaningful recovery and healing.

Working with a therapist or specialist means that you don’t have to accept less than the answers you want, but you’ll get help on addressing them in a way that doesn’t make his depression worse. He probably won’t be able to use that excuse with the counselor and she can help you explore if the depression was present beforehand and lead him to the dating website.

Because honestly, that’s a bit of a red flag as far as depression goes. I’d like to think that well adjusted, married men don’t commonly claim to be single on dating websites – unless they are having individual personal struggles. I’m not naive enough to think that this never happens. Of course it does. But you have to ask yourself why a man would do this. And depression is just one possibility.

Again, I am not a mental health counselor, but I would think that it’s safe advice to encourage both you and your husband see one. I know that cost is often a factor, but you can usually find someone that will work on a siding scale. Sometimes, government agencies in your county or town can help you find someone.  But please reach out.

Because depression is not something that a lay person knows how to deal with. And it may well delay any progress that you’d like to make.  Some things are just best left to the experts. And mental health is certainly one of those things.

I can’t tell you that counseling is always easy.  There were times when it felt like work.  But I can look back now and see that even things that confused me at the time were helpful to me. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Do Men Really Feel Guilty After Having An Affair? Or Do They Just Pretend?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from women who are having a hard time believing that a man feels guilty for cheating or having an affair. Often, it is the wife who had her doubts. But other times, it is the other woman who eventually can’t help but notice that the husband seems to think he’s entitled to his behavior.

Common comments from wives are things like: “my husband claims that he is sorry and guilty about having an affair, but I have my doubts. He cheated on me with a much younger woman from his job. He made her all sorts of promises and gave her money in order to cover her living expenses. And he lied to both of us. He told her that our marriage was in name only. And he told me that she had left the job to go back to school while that most certainly was not true. When we both caught him in his lies, he supposedly broke off the affair. He promised me that he would go to counseling and that he would prove to me that he could be a good husband. He hasn’t done any of this. He says he’s sorry, but his life hasn’t changed any, really. I asked him if he feels guilty and he says that he does. But his actions don’t really indicate that he is telling me the truth.”

In contrast the other woman might say something like: “the guy that I ended up having an affair with told me that he wasn’t married. He told me that he had just gone through a nasty divorce. Imagine my shock and horror when his wife saw my information on his phone and called me. She had no idea and she seems like a really sweet woman. I broke it off with this man and I told him that he should be completely ashamed of his behavior. He apologized and said he does feel guilty, but part of me wonders if he will just do this to someone else. Do men really feel guilty when they behave this way?”

Well, I have to disclose that I’m not a man who has cheated. But I have spoken with many men who meet this description and some of them leave comments on my blog. Granted, my focus is on saving your marriage after infidelity so it’s probably fair to say that only a certain type of man is going to be willing to dialog with me about this. With that said, I can tell you that many men do feel guilty but they keep this to be almost a closely guarded secret. I’ll tell you why below.

Many Men Don’t Want You To Know How Guilty They Feel Because They’re Afraid You Will Use This Against Them: Men who are caught in an affair will often feel a bit defensive. They know that they are in the wrong and they know that they are deserving of whatever reaction you might have. But at the same time, they are embarassed and ashamed. And they don’t want to continue to have to keep talking about this. They don’t want you to keep picking at the scab. So they will appear to be distant or cold, all in the hopes of keeping you at arm’s length.

Because they are concerned that if they show you any weakness like guilt, you are going to pounce on it and then dig to determine what exactly they have to feel guilty about.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that they get a pass. You need to see their guilt and feel confident that they actually feel it. Because feeling guilt shows you that they know that what they did was wrong, which is one thing that might ensure that this doesn’t happen again. It also typically means that they still care enough about you to feel remorse that they have hurt you.

With all of this said, I will say that repeat cheaters are often less guilty. Because they have cheated more than once, they have found various ways to justify their cheating, which means that they are less likely to feel remorse. But men who have never cheated before are, at least in my opinion and experience, likely to feel some guilt.

How To Get Him To Open Up About His Guilt: It’s very understandable that you want to believe that he feels genuine guilt. But at the same time, it’s also understandable that he might not want to bear his soul on a daily basis. So you might just want to have an open conversation about this by saying something like: “I just need to believe that you truly feel remorse and guilt. And I don’t want this because I want to hurt or shame you. I want to see this because it helps me to know that you still care enough to feel these things and it helps me to feel confident that you know what you did was wrong. Because if both of these things are present, I know that you are less likely to cheat again. I don’t expect for you to fall to your knees and declare your guilt, but I’d just like to see your remorse in the way that you treat me and in the way that you approach our marriage.”

Hopefully, this will clear the way for him to be more transparent about his feelings. But to answer the question posed, yes, many first time cheaters do feel a great deal of guilt about their actions.

My husband didn’t show his guilt at first.  But once it became obvious that I wasn’t interested in using his guilt against him, he became more willing to let it show and this truly helped in our recovery.  If it helps, you can read more on my blog http://surviving-the-affair.com

I Admit I’m Acting Crazy Since My Husband’s Affair. I Know It’s Not Like Me. But I’m Having Trouble Controlling It

By: Katie Lersch:  I often hear from wives who don’t like the way that they are behaving or acting after discovering their husband’s affair.  Most of us like to have control over our actions and emotions.  But when you get this kind of shock and disappointment, it’s quite normal to lose control for a bit.  Many women are shocked and dismayed about this – especially when they are having a hard time stopping it.

A wife might say: “I don’t want to clarify myself as a control freak or ice queen.  Because neither of these things would be quite true.  However, I am not someone who becomes overly emotional.  I am pretty reserved and unemotional in most cases.  I like to respond to logic rather than emotion.  I suppose I’ve never been a typical woman in that way.  And my husband has always liked this about me because his mother has always been lead by her emotions.  My mother is the same way – and maybe that’s why I am the way that I am.  But ever since I found out that my husband cheated on me, my logical, rational self has left me.  I am a wreck.  I am constantly crying and acting like a crazy fool.  I threw my husband’s phone in the pool and ruined it.   Yesterday, I followed him to work to make sure he went straight there.  When he called his uncle to wish him a happy birthday, I actually picked up the phone to make sure he wasn’t talking to the other woman.  Last night, he was trying to answer a question that I had asked him, and I interrupted him and told him to shut up – that I didn’t want to hear one more lie out of his mouth.  I am appalled at my behavior.  And in the middle of it, I am thinking to myself that I must stop.  But I can’t seem to.  Because my husband’s reactions make me even more angry.  What can I do to get control over my emotions and behavior?  I don’t want to act like my  mother or his mother.  I am better than that.”

I understand what you are going through.  I consider myself controlled also, but I went through the same thing.  There were days when I felt like a raging lunatic.  I even caught myself lashing out at my kids in a way that I never had before.  And that is when I got serious about finding a different outlet.  Because I knew that I couldn’t allow my behavior to punish them for something that was hard enough to begin with and most certainly not their fault.

It’s Hard To Control The Thoughts.  But You Can Learn To Control The Behaviors: I learned that it was more difficult to control my thoughts than it was to control the behaviors.  It was nearly impossible for me to keep the nasty thoughts from popping into my head.  But with practice, I could learn to stop before I engaged in the behavior that followed the thoughts – if that makes any sense.

A couple of things that helped me was to tell myself that I was going to write what I was going to say / yell into my journal instead of letting it fly out of my mouth.  I wrote those nasty words – quite fast, in big sloppy writing, and as though my pen was a sword. So instead, of following my husband out to his car and yelling at him as he was pulling away to go to work (like I was tempted to do,) I would stop myself, grab my computer and journal all the nasty things I wanted to say.  I took to keeping a computerized journal because of the password protection.  I didn’t want anyone getting ahold of a paper journal and reading it.  This allowed me the luxury of just letting it all hang out and not censoring myself.  These things needed to come out – but not in ways that were going to make the situation worse for myself or my kids.  I also learned to physically walk away if my journal wasn’t accessible.

Finally, I would encourage you to cut yourself some slack. It is normal to feel a little out of control.  You did not ask for this situation.  It is more shocking, upsetting, and life-altering than nearly anything.  It turns your world upside down. And when your world is askew like this over something you didn’t do, that can magnify your feelings of a loss of control which in return brings on that “out of control,” crazy feeling that so many of us experience.

If you can find ways to take back control by releasing those feelings via journaling, sharing with a trusted friend, or counseling, you may find that the feelings are more manageable and not nearly as frequent. And while I think it’s important to take responsibility for controlling the feelings, I don’t think it’s your fault that you are having them in the first place.  You’re simply reacting to something you never asked for and that isn’t your fault.  But it will say a lot about your character if you are able to channel these feelings in more constructive ways.  That’s an important skill to develop in many aspects of your life.

I am not proud of how I acted initially after the affair.  Frankly, I shocked myself and others. But I am proud of how I was able to eventually regain control, retain our family and pick up the pieces eventually. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

I Feel Like My Spouse Should Be Groveling After His Affair. But He Isn’t

By: Katie Lersch: When our spouse makes a very big mistake, we often have the expectation that he will apologize profusely for that mistake, explain what lead up to it, and do everything in his power to assure us that it will never happen again. This is particularly true if the mistake was a life-changing one – like cheating or an affair, for example. Most people have the expectation that their spouse will pull out all of the stops. And when this doesn’t happen, there can be a lot of anger and confusion.

A faithful wife might explain: “my husband has always known how I feel about cheating. My father cheated on my mother. And as soon as he did, I cut him out of my life and out of my children’s lives. I am very open and clear about my feelings on that topic. Last fall, I had a significant amount of stress with my job. My company was down-sizing so I was working two jobs and then some to ensure that the company didn’t pick me to let go. I was very open about this with my husband. He understood why I had to work so much and he encouraged me to do so because obviously, losing my job would have affected both of us. Well, about six months after that, my husband got transferred. His new job is actually closer to home, which is a good thing, but it pays much less. He really didn’t have a choice about it. We’ve been getting by just fine and just as I was thinking how proud I was that we worked through this together, but then I saw a text on my husband’s phone that made it clear he had been cheating. He was outside working on the car. And when he came inside, I held up his phone and confronted him. I fully expected him to out and out grovel. Knowing how much I hate cheaters, I would have thought he would have been reacting with fear that I would leave him. I can’t imagine he wants to break up, since neither of us could make it without the other’s income. However, he did not grovel. He simply said that he was sorry that he did this and that maybe in time we can try to work it out. But then he said he had his reasons and that he was not a bad person and that he wasn’t going to let me vilify him like I have vilified my father. He said he was going to apologize once and then he expected that to be the end of it. Well, it’s not the end of it for me. And how dare he act like he gets to call the shots. Shouldn’t he be groveling right now?”

I agree with you. He is the one who made this awful mistake. He made this choice. So he should stand up and take responsibility for it. However, in his mind, he may believe that he has already done that. And he may be trying to set the tone because he is afraid of you berating and criticizing him in the foreseeable future. He’s hoping that by acting cold and matter-of-fact about this, he will communicate to you that he doesn’t plan to react well if you treat him like your father. So, in a sense, he’s trying to avoid the behavior that he does not want to deal with.

You may think that it is not his right to dictate your reaction like this and you would have a fair argument. But I have to tell you that many men will cite a controlling and overbearing wife as the reason that they cheated. So I think it’s important to be careful to not allow yourself to be characterized that way. You don’t want to feed right into his strategy.

Instead, you want for him to feel and express genuine remorse. Otherwise, you will just feel anger and resentment toward him, which certainly doesn’t get you anywhere. So you may want to address this before it gets any worse.

You might try: “well, that doesn’t sound like too much of an apology to me. There is no genuine feeling in that. Instead, I hear a bit of warning that I am to keep discussions about this affair short and sweet. I hear a warning that I am allowed to bring it up only once and very briefly. That is not going to work for me. I don’t plan to repeatedly berate you about this. But we are going to need to discuss it much more than once. I need a lot of information from you and if we are even going to entertain recovery, we are going to have to have some lengthy conversations. The stance that you have chosen almost leads me to believe that you aren’t up for this. I hope that you are just on the defensive right now. Because we don’t appear to be off to a great start. I’d ask you to start being real and to stop posturing. That isn’t going to get us anywhere.”

See if this makes some difference. He may have just needed you to clarify that his strategy of shutting you down before you can criticize him just isn’t going to work. He can’t realistically expect for you to be fine with a quick apology and then a closing down of all future discussions. If you want to fix things after an affair, there is a lot of talking and communication in your future. If he’s trying to shut that down immediately, that’s not a good sign.

But most likely, he is posturing and trying to set the tone. He doesn’t want for you to treat him the way that you treated your father, so he’s trying to protect himself from that in the future.

I certainly had to shut my own husband down when he tried to diminish my reaction and down-play the affair.  He got the message pretty quickly. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Husband Was Honest About His Unfaithfulness But Lies About The Details

By: Katie Lersch:  One would think that husbands who were caught cheating would already know that the jig is up.  You already know the worst of it – that he has been unfaithful to you and that this may mean that your marriage is in serious trouble.  So, what is the point of being so secretive after this comes out?  What can be worse than cheating?  And why add fuel to the fire by not coming clean about everything?

A wife may have this unfortunate scenario to deal with: “my husband admitted to cheating before I caught him.  I had some vague suspicions, but I do not even know if I would have followed up on them.  I was sort of telling myself that I was overreacting and being paranoid.  So I am not sure what might have happened if he hadn’t admitted to it.  So far, what he has told me is that he had a three-and-a-half-week affair with a woman from his work.  He said there were basically three encounters and that is it. Needless to say, I really want more information than this.  These basic details just do not cut it.  I try to ask him how old she is, what she looked like, what started the affair, etc.  But he will shut me down and tell me that all of this doesn’t matter because it was over and it wasn’t anything meaningful to begin with. This isn’t good enough for me.  But no matter what I say, he won’t budge.  So I started digging around on my own.  And I found proof that the affair was going on for longer than 3-and-a-half weeks.  That makes me wonder what else he might have been lying about.  Why would a man confess to cheating but then lie when it comes to the details?  Because at this point, the cat is already out of the bag.”

Why He May Have Confessed: There are many potential reasons and I will try to list some of them here.  First of all, let’s talk about why he may have confessed when he didn’t appear to need to.  Sometimes, the other person in the affair is threatening to tell.  Sometimes, he believes that you know or suspect more than you do.  Or, it may be as straightforward as the fact that he feels guilty and he wants to do the right thing.  And sometimes when people are cheating, all of a sudden it hits them that they have put their marriage at risk and they feel deep regret about this.  They suddenly want to save their marriages.  And they know that in order to do that, they have to have enough respect and care for you to be truthful. So confessing is the first step toward that.

Why He May Not Be As Forthcoming With The Details: As to why he may be lying about some of the details, I think that the most likely reason for this (and one that happens very regularly) is that he doesn’t want to hurt you or trouble you more than he already has.  He’s going to make the affair seem as short, as meaningless, and as casual as he possibly can.  In short, he’s going to downplay it as much as is feasible because he thinks that it is going to hurt you less and make things easier for him.

Now, we both know that he is technically lying.  But often, husbands do not see it that way.  In their minds, they honestly believe that they are protecting you from getting hurt. So you have to decide how important you find each piece of information.  I do believe that you need the information in order to piece together what has truly happened and why.  But sometimes, we become obsessed with wanting to know EVERYTHING and all this does is feed our obsession and slows our healing.

If you are going to counseling, your counselor will likely lead your husband to disclosing vital information.  If not, then it helps to define what you most want to know and then firmly asking him for this information.  You might say: “I know that you are trying to keep from hurting me, but I need to know more than just the basics. I can’t heal if I don’t know exactly what I am dealing with.  It’s not fair to keep me in the dark but expect me to move on.  I am not asking for every detail.  But I need to know more than just a shell of the whole story.  So that it’s not too overwhelming, we can deal with a little at a time.  Why don’t we start with the true duration.  Because I know that it was longer with three-and-a-half weeks.  Let’s start by telling the truth about when it actually started and when it actually ended.

Then listen to what he has to say.  He may balk or try to stall.  If he does, tell him that he is only delaying your healing.  Having a counselor on your side can help or even showing him self-help that discusses how much you need to know so that he can see that this isn’t just coming from you – it is coming from the experts who are trying to help you both through this.

My husband tried to keep some things close to the vest to ‘protect’ me.  But I made it clear that this did not work for me.  He eventually saw that this wasn’t helping his cause.  There’s more to the story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Why Is My Spouse Being So Possessive Of Me When He’s The One Who Had The Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s considered normal when your spouse has an affair and afterward you become extremely observant of your spouse’s comings and goings.  It’s understandable to want to know what he’s doing and who he is with.

Even if you would not normally be this suspicious, vigilance can feel necessary because no one wants to find their spouse cheating a second time.  What can be less expected is when the cheating spouse becomes super vigilant of the faithful spouse.  You then have a situation where the cheating spouse becomes possessive and suspicious of someone who HASN’T cheated and in fact is the victim in the matter.

A wife might say: “about three months ago, I found out that my husband had been cheating on me.  For a few weeks, I stayed in an apartment that my boss has by our office.  I honestly did not know if I would stay married.  Recently though, I have decided to move back in to see if it was remotely possible to pick up the pieces.  My husband has never done anything like this before.  He is a good man.  And he seems desperately remorseful. We have had some good talks and for a while there, I was feeling a bit hopeful.  The problem is that my husband – who isn’t the jealous type at all – has suddenly become possessive of me.  He acts like my boss is trying to pursue me, which is completely untrue.  And if a man so much as looks at me in passing, my husband gets very weird and jealous.  Why is he acting like this?  It’s annoying and it’s not very attractive.  I did nothing wrong.  What gives him the right to be so possessive?”

Understanding How His Fears Lead To Possessiveness: In truth, he really doesn’t have the right to be so possessive, at least in my opinion.  But this is a very common behavior. And it is motivated by fear.  He’s likely afraid that you will retaliate or that you will lose interest in him.  He’s afraid that you will cheat to get back at him.  He’s afraid that you’re not really thrilled with him right now and that you question your marriage.  Therefore, by his reasoning, you might be more susceptible to having your own affair.  Or you may look around and decide that you would be better off without him.

He’s likely afraid that he would not compare favorably to another man.  What if a kind man at work started showing you attention?  Your husband might fear that you might be tempted since your spouse has betrayed you.  So he figures if he can keep a close eye on you, he can lessen the chance of this happening.

I’m not defending him.  His behavior is destructive.  But I want you to understand his thought process.  It is not that he thinks that you aren’t trustworthy.  It’s that he is afraid that his mistake is going to have consequences.  Frankly, he fears losing you.  So he is holding on as tightly as he possibly can.

A Suggestion: Of course, that doesn’t mean that you just have to accept it.  You can certainly have a conversation about this.  It would be understandable to get angry and defensive and to demand that he back off.  But I think a more calm approach might have better results.

I’d try something like: “I can’t help but notice that you are constantly checking up on me and acting overly possessive.  I do not understand this behavior.  I have never cheated on you, nor do I intend to.  No matter how angry I get at you, cheating would not be my solution.  Cheating is what got us in this mess to begin with. I know that you might be worried about retaliation.  But this possessiveness is not the way to keep that from happening.  Your keeping tabs on me like this only frustrates me and damages our marriage.  I have never given you a reason not to trust me.  I don’t intend to start.  Your suspicions are misplaced.  Please stop being so possessive.  It is doing more harm than good.  Being possessive is not going to stop me from making my own decisions.  It’s not going to change my feelings.  If anything, it is more likely to contribute to negative feelings over positive ones.  The more effective way to help our situation would be to communicate and to start healing.  Can we agree on that?”

Hopefully, he will readily agree, but know that you may have to remind him again later.  Sometimes when we are operating based on fear, we simply act out of emotion without taking the time to think.  So while he might intellectually realize that being possessive is wrong and silly, he may resort back to doing it when he becomes fearful that you will leave him or retaliate.  That doesn’t mean that you have to accept it.  But you might have to remind him if you see him doing it again.

I know that realizing that this behavior is fear – based doesn’t make it acceptable.  It isn’t.  But sometimes if you can understand why he is acting a certain way, you can more effectively stop it.  And once he sees that it is hurting and not helping, he may be more mindful of his behaviors.  If you’re in counseling, I would definitely mention this so that the counselor can drive the point home.

Possessiveness is one of those things a cheating spouse will do when he’s desperately afraid that he has gone too far.  But there are times when you can’t let these behaviors continue without saying anything because it just makes the situation worse.  Sometimes conversations like this one can actually lead to a dialog that releases both spouses feelings and fears. And this is actually helpful, at least it was in my case.  There’s more about this on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Husband’s Affair Made Me Gain Weight. And Now I Feel Even Worse About Myself

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s very normal to scrutinize your appearance after your spouse cheats or has an affair.  We wonder if we are not pretty enough, thin enough, alluring enough, or playful enough.  We wonder if the other woman looks better than we do and, as a result, we can be very hard on ourselves.

Worse, in the days after the affair, we often just don’t have the energy to worry about or focus on our appearance.  We barely have the energy to function, much less worry about things that are non-essential.  And so, we can “let ourselves go” a little at a time when we are overly conscious of the way that we look.

A wife might lament: “I found out that my husband had been cheating on me about four months ago.  I asked him to leave.  I did not want to see him.  Lately, we have been talking but not living together.  And this time period has been very lonely and difficult for me.  I often walk my dogs in the morning and just think about things.  Because I don’t want to go to an empty house, I usually stop at a coffee shop and grab a coffee and danish.  I also haven’t made it to the gym in a while because I just do not feel like being around people.  As a result, I’ve put on a noticeable amount of weight.  This makes me feel even worse about myself.  The other day, my husband came over unannounced.  I answered the door in no make up and ratty clothing.  My husband made small talk with me, but then left shortly afterward.  His facial expressions made it pretty clear to me that he was shocked by my appearance.  And now this whole thing makes me feel as if I have taken a huge step back. As if it isn’t bad enough that my husband has cheated on me, now I feel like a fat pig with nothing to offer.”

I want to suggest that you be more gentle with yourself.  As anyone who has had a husband cheat well knows, this is pain unlike any other.  This is not a time where you are expected to be at your best.  And struggling is absolutely understandable.  More than any other time, it is important to be supportive of yourself. Calling yourself a fat pig is not in alignment with this and it is probably not accurate either.

It is also very normal to go on a search for flaws in our appearance and our personality in the hopes that this will tell us everything that we need to know about why our husband cheated on us.  Here is what you need to understand about that.  The answers don’t lie within us.  They lie within him.  And nothing in our appearance or personality may have lead to this at all.  Men with beautiful, sweet, and supportive wives cheat.  And this has nothing to do with the wife.

So if you are looking for a reason, look at him. Not at you.  Now, if improving your appearance will make you feel better, than I encourage you to do it.  Getting more fit was actually very empowering to me during my recovery.  And I have maintained this change in lifestyle because after the boost in my self confidence, I just noticed a huge benefit in stress reduction and a general sense of well being.  I feel much worse physically and mentally if I do not work out.  I want to keep those benefits going and this doesn’t have much to do with my marriage, but it has a lot to do with me.

And it doesn’t have to be huge changes or efforts that you make at first. You don’t have to take on anything that feels overwhelming.  Maybe you just have coffee with skim milk and you skip the danish.  Maybe you power walk home from the coffee shop or you extend your walk by a little.  I found Yoga and Pilates extremely comforting during my recovery.  During that time, I tended to hold so much stress in my shoulders.  And I found myself literally stooping and slouching.  Yoga and Pilates fixed this problem and strengthened my core so that I had a flat belly for the first time in many years and the stress reduction benefits were enormous.  This made a huge difference in how I looked and felt. And I never felt that I was exhausting myself or punishing myself.  It felt like a treat for my body, actually. Learning how to lean into my breath and breathe into my pain just released so much tension and let my body relax at a time when it drastically needed this.

But if you are going to make any changes or improvements, do it for you – and for your own self esteem.  Do it out of love for yourself, but not out of a desire to change yourself because you think that you are not good enough or quite up to snuff.  Because you absolutely are.  If you think you could use some improvement in your fitness level, by all means pursue that because there are benefits to this other than just the way you look.  But do not beat yourself up or tear yourself down. None of this is your fault.

I always encourage people to do whatever they need to do to feel their best.  But make sure that it is for you only – not for anyone else.  Because if it is for someone else, it will not feel like it should.  But if it is for you, it will feel like delicious freedom and wonderful self care.  If it helps, you can read more about own experience on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com