How Long Should It Take To Let Go Of An Affair? Why Can’t My Spouse Let Go?

The time frame for letting go of an affair is a concern that I hear from people on both sides of the issue. For example, I sometimes hear from the spouse who was cheated on. Sometimes, they can’t help but notice that the spouse who cheated appears not to have totally “let go” of the other person. Sure, they may be saying that the affair is over and they want to save their marriage, but it can be pretty obvious that they are still sort of moping around. The faithful spouse may assume that this means that the cheating spouse misses the person they had the affair with or are sad that it’s over.

I often hear comments like: “my husband says the affair is over and that he is committed to me, our children, and our marriage. However, he’s doesn’t seem truly invested in any of these things. He mopes around. He doesn’t really participate in family life. He doesn’t seem particularly excited by me or our marriage. When I mention this to him, he says that he just needs some time. When I tell him that it appears to me that he’s not let go of the affair, he will again repeat that he needs some time. But it’s been about 4 months now. How much time does he really need? I’m starting to think that he’s never going to really get over it and our marriage is over. How much time should I give him before I just give up?”

Here’s another example but it comes from the cheating spouse. I recently heard from a husband who said that he’d had an affair about a year and a half ago. He had worked very hard to make things right with his wife. He had ended the affair and they had been faithfully attending counseling. He had done everything in his power to show his wife that he loved her and would not cheat again. However, the wife didn’t seem able to let it go. He said, in part: “We’re going on two years now and my wife still seems to unable to let my infidelity go. I have done everything in my power to make amends. I give her everything that she asks me for. But no matter what, she finds a way to bring up my affair, throw it in my face, and remain angry. I’m starting to think that she’s never going to get over this and frankly, I can’t live this way for the rest of my life. How much time should you give someone in this situation before you just decide the marriage was too damaged by the affair?”

I think that many of the people who ask me questions such as this are hoping that I will give them a set time line. I think that some of them are actually considering giving their spouse a deadline. Unfortunately, I can’t offer such a time line. Every person and situation is different. However, in the following article, I’ll offer you some tips and some things to consider in this situation.

Even Though There’s No Set Time Frame For Letting The Affair Go, You Want To See Some Progress. If You Don’t, You Want To Explore Why: Many faithful spouses can’t understand the need for closure from the spouse who cheated. After all, they decided to end the affair and walk away, so why is it hard for them to do just that? I’ve never cheated on my spouse. But I can share some of the sentiments from those that have on my blog. Some people in this situation tell me that it’s hard to have a relationship one day and then be just expected to turn your back on it the next. Additionally, many of them are responding to their guilt and shame for their actions. They know that they have let down both people. They know that you are angry and distrustful as a result of their actions. Therefore, it’s not that easy to act as if everything is back to normal or that nothing has changed.

I don’t tell you this to make excuses. I tell you this in the hopes to shed some light on this. However, even if your spouse is having trouble adjusting to life after their affair, they should cut off all contact with the other person and place their focus on you and your own family. You may not see them back to their old selves immediately, but the idea is that they do a little better each day while the both of you are trying to reconnect, rebuild, and heal.

If you are not seeing this, then you’ll want to have a very frank discussion to determine why. It’s normal for there to be an adjustment period, but you should also be seeing things gradually getting better.

On the flip side, if you are the spouse who cheated and you’re not seeing much improvement in your spouse’s ability to let your infidelity go, take a look at what you’ve done to help them heal. Because they need to believe without any doubt that you’re truly sorry, that you won’t cheat again, and that your marriage can and will recover.

What If I’m Not Seeing Any Progress Despite My Best Efforts? Do I Give My Spouse A Deadline To Let The Affair Go?: Sometimes when I tell spouses who have cheated this, they’ll respond with something like “but that’s just it. My wife doesn’t believe we can get through this, even though I know we can. How can I make her see that it’s safe to let this go? And if she can’t do I give her a deadline?”

Or, if I’m speaking with a faithful spouse I’ll hear things like “It’s as if the other woman still has a hold over my husband even though the affair is over. I’m doing everything in my power to restore my marriage, but he doesn’t seem interested in me.”

I know that both of these are two very separate issues, but usually the underlying problem is the same. In these situations, it’s my opinion that there are still some issues that haven’t been addressed or haven’t been solved enough that they aren’t still coming up. When I tell people this, they often insist that they have been through absolutely everything and they are tired of rehashing it all of the time. I understand this. But if you don’t settle all of the issues once and for all, they are only going to keep coming up and “letting go” of the affair becomes even more unlikely.

I know that it can be painful and awkward to revisit the past but you have to make sure that you have covered all of the bases and been willing to “go there” with your spouse to show them that you are willing to do whatever is needed to help them to move on.

Admittedly, they are some people who will eventually realize that they just can’t let the affair or the infidelity go and this will end their marriage. But I also think that there are people who think that this is the case with them, when in reality, they just haven’t yet gotten what they needed. And, once they do, they are able to put this past them. Because the truth is, no one enjoys struggling with themselves or their marriage after an affair. The vast majority of people truly do want to move on and let go, but they don’t always have the tools to do so.

That’s why I never think it’s a good idea to give your spouse an ultimatum or a deadline. If YOU make the choice to move on without your spouse, then this is your prerogative (although I’d recommend trying some of the tips in this article first.) But I don’t think you can or should attempt to force them to make theirs.

There was a time when I thought I would never be able to let go of my husband’s affair, but this is in the past. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger. 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 my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story 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 Can’t Get Over The Fact That He Chose The Other Woman, Even If He’s Now Saying He Wants Our Marriage Back

By: Katie Lersch: In some marriages that have been marred by an affair, there comes a time when the husband has to chose between the other woman and the wife. The wife is usually hoping that he will do the right thing and chose her. This doesn’t always happen though. It’s often assumed that once the husband choses the other woman, the marriage is over. But what happens when the husband realizes that he has made a mistake and wants his marriage back? It can be an incredibly difficult situation with many variables to consider.

To demonstrate, a confused wife might say: “I was devastated when my husband announced that he could not give the other woman up. He said that he had developed real and lasting feelings for her and that they were going to try to make their relationship last. So he loaded up his car, said goodbye to the kids while everyone was sobbing, and went and moved in with her. I assumed that this would be the end of my marriage and I tried to pick up the pieces as best as I could. The last couple of months have been a nightmare for my children and myself. But what choice did I have? I have just been taking things day by day. Well, nearly three months after he left us, my husband came by the house and after we put the kids to bed, he told me that he made a grave mistake. He says that being with the other woman full time made him realize that she is not who he thought that she was. He says their relationship is completely over and that he now wants his marriage back. Well, what about what I want? I would tell him to go jump in a lake and that it’s too late for all of this. But I see how miserable my children have been without their dad. My parents were divorced and this affected me deeply. I don’t want to do this to my children. But I am not sure how our marriage can ever work because I know that when the chips were down, he chose someone else. I am not sure that I can ever get over this. All I keep thinking of is that I wasn’t his first choice. So part of me thinks that saving our marriage is just going to a waste of time for both of us and it’s going to get my kids’ hopes up needlessly. I just don’t know what to do.”

I absolutely understand your confusion, pain, and frustration. I believe that most people would feel exactly the same way. This is a difficult situation. And my inclination in situations like this is to not make any snap or quick decisions. You don’t have to commit to saving your marriage right now. You don’t even have to make any major decisions right now. You can tell your husband that you are willing to spend more time together in the near future for the sake of your children, but you can’t make any promises beyond that.

Then, you can watch his behaviors very closely and gage your own feelings as you move through the process. I would suggest not forcing anything and not rushing it. This may take a while to iron itself out. You may not know how you feel or what you want immediately. But you get to ultimately decide what you want to happen. Just because he has had a change of heart, this does not dictate your actions. You have a say in your own life.

I know that many people will resist counseling, but in a situation as difficult as this one, I think that it may be helpful and I would suggest individual counseling first before you even decide if you want joint counseling, but your therapist would certainly know best as to what is advised.

Finally, I don’t mean to discourage you. Couples can and do reconcile all the time in this scenario. It is absolutely possible. At the same time, I don’t feel that you should feel pressured or rushed. You likely need a good deal of time to process this and to begin healing before you can even think about what you want to do about your marriage. Sure, he may have had a change of heart. But you get to decide what (if anything) this means for you. And if you do decide that you ultimately want to save your marriage, then you get to do it on your own terms.  There’s nothing wrong with spending time together for the sake of the kids and then seeing where that leads you.  But the choice really is yours.

I did ultimately save my marriage after my husband’s affair, but I took my sweet time before I decided that I was open to it.  I figured if my husband really cared as much as he claimed, he would wait.  And he did.  If it helps, you’re welcome to read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Why Won’t My Husband Stop His Affair When He Says He Wants To Save Our Marriage?

By: Katie Lersch: Nothing is as frustrating and as hurtful as finding out that the husband who is begging you to save your marriage after his affair is still reaching out and staying in contact with the other woman. This can leave you wondering which one is pursuing the other, if he is out-and-out lying to you, and, if so, why he would be continuing to lie in this way.

I might hear from a wife who says: “my husband has been having an affair with someone who goes to our church. I walked in on them looking very intimate with one another at church. I knew by their body language that something was wrong. It took a while for my husband to finally admit to this, but I kept at him until he did. And he broke down and started saying that he didn’t want to lose me and so he was begging me to try to save our marriage. I thought about this for a couple of days because I was really tempted to just walk away. I ultimately didn’t because of my children, but also because I don’t want to have to leave my church. So I told him that I would give him the chance to prove to me that our marriage should be saved. Based on how upset he seemed when he was begging me to stay, I expected him to pull out all of the stops where our marriage was concerned. But then I go to church this Sunday and I walk in on them whispering all over again. They both had guilty looks on their faces, like they were doing something wrong. My husband claims that she sought him out and that he wasn’t doing anything wrong. I don’t believe him. Not in the least. Why would he claim that he wants to save our marriage and then continue to see her? Is he just a liar? Is he just being cruel? Did he intend to break it off but then saw her and was not be able to resist? I just do not get it.”

Any answer that I give you will quite frankly be speculation on my part. However, I do get a lot of correspondence from men in this situation and I can suggest some possibilities.  That said, you may not know which possibility is correct until you have more information or until enough time has passed for you to better gauge the situation. But, here are some possible reasons that you’re seeing this contradiction.

He May Be Telling You The Truth: I know that it is shocking and upsetting to see them together once again. But, how do you know that she didn’t pursue him or follow him when he was minding his own business? I know that it’s perfectly natural to expect the worst of a man who has already lied and cheated. But sometimes, it is the other woman who is doing the pursuing and the husband is sincere when he says that he wants to (and is trying) to save his marriage. I know that it’s frustrating that you can only speculate. But, his future behavior is going to give you more information. Because if he is sincere, he will continue to show the behaviors typical of a man who is trying to save his marriage. He will come home on time, be loving and sincere, and stay by your side while at church.

He May Feel One Thing When He Is With You And Another When He Is With Her: It’s not at all unusual for a man to completely believe what he is saying when he tells his wife that he wants to save his marriage and then lose his resolve when the other woman is begging him to reconsider. That’s why it’s so very important that he stays away from her.

I know that you don’t want to leave your church and I understand that, but I would let the husband know that it’s expected that he stick close to you while there. That way, you won’t have to worry about the two of them being caught together once again. If he is with you for the entire time, she can’t approach him and he can’t sneak away.

It’s vital that he understands that his reaching out to the other woman in any way is in direct contrast to his claims of wanting to save your marriage.  It helps if he understands that if he does this again, you will need to reevaluate. Sometimes, he needs to know that you are serious about not tolerating him contacting or seeing her in any way, shape, or form.

I would suggest watching his behavior closely in the days to come. If he stays away from her and acts like a man who truly does want to save his marriage, that does say a lot. If you catch him contacting her again or he doesn’t make good on his promises regarding the marriage, then this says a lot about his intentions also.

Many people tell me that it’s very hard to just abruptly break off the affair, especially when the other person is still pursuing them. But I often respond that it may be difficult, but it is absolutely necessary and it is non negotiable. If someone is really serious about saving their marriage after their affair, they make their spouse their first priority and they stay away from the other person. Sometimes, it takes them a while to realize this, though. You can help by making your expectations perfectly clear and defining what you can not accept.

I think that requiring your husband to not venture away while in church might help.  It is also advisable that you make it clear that his being given the opportunity to save his marriage is contingent upon his behavior.  Healing after an affair isn’t always a linear process.  There are struggles and triumphs along the way.  You’re welcome to read more about my own journey on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Often Do Affairs Start Up Again? How Can I Make Sure My Husband’s Doesn’t?

By: Katie Lersch: I wish I could tell you that every person I hear from is well on the way to saving their marriage after their spouse’s affair and, has found the process relatively easy. That’s not the case, though. Most people discover that recovering from an affair is hard. And one of the biggest issues that you have to overcome is trust. It’s extremely common (and quite understandable) for the faithful spouse to constantly worry that the cheating spouse is going to start up the affair once again.

I might hear from a wife who says: “after weeks of going back and forth about it, my husband finally decided to end his affair and to once again focus on our marriage. I am so relieved about this. Because I don’t want to injure our kids with a broken marriage. But I’m afraid that in just a little while, I’m going to find out that one or both of them has started up the affair again. Because I’ve read emails and texts between the two of them where they proclaim their love for one another and say how painful it would be to ever be separated. They say that they don’t want to live without one another. So I’m afraid that he really does want to be with her and that if she so much as starts emailing him again, he will give in and go back to her. Is this fear unfounded? How many people start the affair back up again?”

This concern is so understandable. You’re being expected to just blindly believe that he will end something that he has engaged in on a secret level for quite some time. In fact, he has risked quite a bit to engage in that relationship.  So it’s understandable to question if he is really going to give it up.  I looked for some statistics about how often this happens, but I didn’t find anything that was particularly helpful. I found a lot of information that indicated that people who try to make their affairs into a permanent relationship are often disappointed. It’s rare for an affair to actually make it and to last. But that doesn’t stop people from trying and failing.

I can’t tell you that I never hear from people whose spouse has promised to try to save their marriage and then never actually ended the affair or started it up again in secret. This does happen. But I believe that there are some things that you can do to lessen the chances that your spouse might start the relationship once again. I will go over some of them below.

Let Ending The Affair Be His Decision: I know that it often sounds very tempting to threaten your spouse that he had better end the affair or else, but when you do this, you are forcing his hand. And if he was not the one who made the decision of his own accord, then he might look at the other person longingly, as though she is something he wants and can not have. And of course, this makes him want her even more and makes the temptation even greater. So to the extent you can, make sure he knows that ending the affair is his decision. Sure, he likely knows that there will consequences if he makes the wrong decision. But that same decision needs to be his.

Take Away Temptations: You might assume that it would be your spouse who pursues the other woman. It is often the other way around. I often see very sincere husbands end the affair with absolute clarity using language that makes it very clear that the affair is one hundred percent over. And yet, the other woman doesn’t want to take no for an answer and she continues to pursue him. Does he have a choice as to how he responds to this? Of course he does, but it was never his intention to continue communication in the first place.

That’s why it helps for him to remove all temptations. This means changing his phone number and email if he needs to. He should make it very difficult if not downright impossible for her to contact him. He should know that it’s expected that he come straight home from work and then spend as much time with you as is possible.

Begin The Business Of Rebuilding Your Marriage As Soon As You Possibly Can: I know that you might need some time to heal on your own before you begin the business of saving your marriage. But, to the extent that you can, try not to completely shut your spouse out by sharing where you are in the process. If you aren’t ready to begin work as a couple, then I’d suggest beginning individual work as soon as is possible.

Because the sooner your spouse has somewhere else to place his attention, the less likely he is to spend his attention on her. None of this is any guarantee that the affair won’t start again. But if you can keep him busy, make sure he doesn’t see or talk to her, and allow him make his own decisions regarding her, you can certainly lesson the chances that she is still going to be in your life.  And at the end of the day, you can’t control his behaviors.  But you can control the amount of time or temptations that he has.

Honestly, the longer that we worked on our marriage, the less I worried that she would come into the picture again.  And, this just takes time.  You kind of have to take a leap of faith at first and then watch closely and tweak when you need to. You’re welcome to read more about my own healing on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Do People Repeat Their Family History When It Comes To Cheating Or Having An Affair? Why ? Does It Truly Run In Families?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from people who are dealing with the recent discovery of their spouse’s infidelity.  Once the shock begins to wear off just a little, you start to question what might have motivated your spouse to cheat.

One motivation that is hard to ignore is that of a family history.  Many of us accept that disorders like alcoholism or mental illness can run in families.  But people often balk at the idea that infidelity runs in families.  Most of us vow to never act in the hurtful way that our parents did, so why do some of us cheat when we watched that same cheating destroy our family as a child?

Here’s a situation that you might hear.  A wife might say: “I just found out that my husband has been cheating.  This is so confusing. Because we honestly had a good, happy marriage and family life.  And my husband always swore that cheating is one thing that he would never – ever – do. His father’s cheating destroyed my husband’s family.  My husband hates his father and sees him as weak and spineless.  And yet, here my husband is – cheating on me.  My husband is begging me not to tear apart my family.  He says that the difference between him and his father is that he is willing to get help.  I do not understand this, although I know that my husband is sincere about counseling.  But I am not sure that I buy that infidelity runs in families.  Does it?  And if so, why? Because I feel like it is just a handy excuse.”

I certainly understand why you would feel that way.  And whether you believe the family history theory or not, it’s not a valid excuse either way.  Not every one makes the same mistake as their parents.  But there is no question that our parents’ behaviors affects our own.  My mother is a heavy smoker.  I have never smoked.  But there is no question that children of smoker’s are much more likely to smoke themselves, even if they hated the habit.

In terms of infidelity, I do see a family history among people who cheat.  It’s certainly not always the case.  And people with cheating parents are not doomed to cheat themselves.  But there does seem to be a correlation as well as higher risk factors.  I am not a therapist and this is not a scientific observation.  But I do hear of it quite a bit.

Why I Think That Infidelity May Run In Families: I have my theories,  but that is all that they are.  As I said, I do not have any degrees in mental health. But I am a rabid researcher because of my personal interest in this. I believe that we tend to recreate the atmospheres of our childhood because it is what we know.  If we grew up in chaos, we will be more likely to create that chaos in our own homes – even if we HATED that chaos and vowed never to repeat it.  We do this because its familiar and, it times of stress, people crave the familiar – even if that is heard to understand and even if it is destructive.

I also believe that we sometimes subconsciously recreate the situations of our childhood as a way to attempt to work through them.   This is true even when we have rejected our childhoods and have vowed not to make the same mistakes as our parents.  That is why it is so important to try to always be mindful when you parent.  Whatever atmosphere you create in your children’s childhood home, that is the roadmap for their adults lives.

Plus, it’s possible that some of the habits that we learned from our parents – avoiding talking about important emotional issues, or trying to create happiness outside of ourselves –  can contribute to our marriages being vulnerable, which can lead to an affair.  If our parents did not model a marriage where issues were discussed and fixed without going outside of our home, how we can we expect to have the same?

How Can You Fix It?: So how do we avoid repeating the mistakes of our parents?  We have to learn to be very aware of our thoughts and actions.  We have to be willing to get help if we sense or see ourselves repeating these thoughts or behaviors.  This requires that we be VERY self-aware. And in times of stress, we are less likely to be able to do this.

None of this means that you have to excuse your husband.  But it may help you to understand that he did have serious risk factors.  I do believe that having an unfaithful parent increases the risk that the child will be unfaithful.  It doesn’t mean that they will.  It just means that the odds are increased.  But there is always a choice, although making that choice can be harder for someone with the family history.

The good news is that, for what it is worth, I don’t believe that your husband’s family history means that your husband is going to be a repeat cheater who can’t be rehabilitated.  If anything, he may have an even greater motivation to be fully rehabilitated because he knows first-hand what type of destruction this caused his family as a child.  He knows how it feels to be that child from a broken home, so he does not want that for his own children.  That may mean that he’s doubly motivated to fully heal your marriage.

I certainly know that my husband had risk factors from childhood that may have contributed to his affair.  But I do not excuse him for that.  He was accountable for his choice and he took responsibility for it.   However, knowing the risk factors are there helps us both. There’s more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Spouse Says She’s No Longer Attracted To Me After I Had An Affair

By: Katie Lersch: Many people expect for their spouses to see them differently after the affair is found out. And I can tell you from experience that this is very true. You struggle with the knowledge that the person you thought you were married to is not who you assumed him to be. Many people assume that this is a struggle with their character, but this can encompass other areas too, like physical attraction.

I might hear from a husband who says: “my wife has every right to be mad at me or even to hate me because of my affair. I don’t have any valid excuse for it. Except for to say that my child’s illness has effected every aspect of my life including my outlook on life and on my marriage. I was prepared for my wife to say that she didn’t trust me anymore. I was even prepared for her to say that she didn’t respect me. But I was not prepared for her to say that she was no longer attracted to me. She said that she was wondering about what the other woman saw in me as I am overweight, balding, and pale. And when she thought these things, she realized that they were all true. And now, apparently because of this, she finds me a turn-off. She is not attracted to me anymore, so she is not sure if she wants to stay married. I don’t know how to respond to this. I look the same as I did before the affair and she seemed attracted to me then. I don’t know how much I can change my appearance. I could probably lose some weight but I can’t change my skin tone or hair. What can I do about this? Should I just accept that she’s never going to love or want me again?”

Admittedly, this is a tough situation. It hurts to hear these things, but at the same time, deep down, part of you might think that you deserve it. And part of you might realize that she is probably looking for reasons to hate you as part of a defense mechanism. You might even hope that in time, as she comes to see your personality and character as more favorable, that she will see your physical appearance as more favorable also. All of these things are possible, but it’s important to remember that she has every right to feel however she might be feeling right now, although it admittedly seems mean-spirited.  But she is probably motivated more by pain than malice.

Part of me will always see this situation from the perspective of the faithful spouse because that is where my experience lies. This may be useful to you, though because I can give you perspective on what your spouse might be thinking or feeling. I agree that, especially when the detection of the affair is fresh and new, you are looking for reasons to be mad at your spouse. You figure that the more you can be mad at and dislike him, the less this is going to hurt you.

So yes, you pick apart his flaws. You look for things to detest about him. You may even make fun of him in your own mind. But, you are trying to act toward your own self-preservation. When the dust settles a little and when you can’t help but notice glimpses of him showing integrity and good character or when he tries to put your well-being and your healing in front of his own, you might begin to notice that mental list of all the things wrong with him begins to get smaller and smaller. As you replace his bad characteristics with good ones in your own mind, the way that you have been treating him may begin to change.

I can’t tell you if your wife is lying about no longer being attracted to you after the affair. I believe that she may really believe it. I also believe that right now, she probably feels that it is in her best interest to feel in the defensive way that she does. You can not blame her. Finding out that your spouse cheated on you is beyond painful and you will often do whatever you need to do in order to get through this, including telling yourself that you don’t really want your cheating spouse anymore and are better off without him.

It’s normal to ask yourself what the other woman saw in him and then to tell yourself that he doesn’t have any outstanding physical attributes, but this doesn’t mean that you really mean it, deep down. As far as this husband changing his appearance, I am not sure that it would make a difference.

I suspect that the better tactic would be to begin trying to make this right. No matter what is going to happen in your marriage, trying to treat your wife with dignity, respect, and remorse is the right thing to do. Conducting yourself with integrity is the right thing to do. She might not be receptive to you at first. But if you stay the course, over time, she may see that you are sincere. And when she does, her attitude may begin to slowly change. And this may include her attitude toward your appearance.

I will admit that I picked apart everything about my husband after his affair, including his appearance.  But as he showed me the man that I loved was still there, my feelings toward his appearance began to change very gradually. If it helps, you’re welcome to read more about how I attempted to handle this on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Can Someone Actually Propose After Having An Affair? What Now?

By: Katie Lersch: Most of the time, when you get the marriage proposal that you have been waiting for, it’s a time for relief and celebration. It should be one of the most exciting times of your life. Unfortunately, this can all be negated if you fear that you got the proposal because your significant other has cheated on you and is trying to show his remorse and commitment by asking you to marry him. This is usually not the way that you wanted it and you are not sure how to proceed from here.

Someone might say: “I’ve been hoping to get married to this man for quite some time. But he always had a reason why the timing wasn’t right. Last week, I found out that he’d been cheating on me with an old girlfriend. When I caught them, he immediately left her and went running after me. He promised that he would never see or communicate with her again. I told him I wasn’t sure if this was going to be enough for me. I told him that I wasn’t sure that our relationship could work with this type of damage. A couple of days later, he showed up at my place with an engagement ring. He said that he was so sorry that he messed things up in the way that he did. And this whole thing has made him realize that it is me that he loves and that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I would have loved to have heard this two weeks ago. But now it is tainted. Now I feel like he’s just doing this because I caught him cheating. At the same time, I sort of want to accept the proposal because I’ve wanted to marry him from the first moment I saw him.  I don’t understand how he can possibly be proposing now and I told him I couldn’t make a decision right away.”

I know that this must be very confusing for you. And it’s awful that you can not have the excitement that you deserve. And I think that this should be a red flag that now is not the ideal time to proceed with an engagement or marriage. You likely already know this which is why you’re not feeling the elation that a woman would typically feel just after she has been proposed to.  That’s why you were right to delay an answer.

Potential Reasons For The Proposal: As to why he proposed, he is probably being truthful when he says this made him realize that he loves you and doesn’t want to lose you.  This is often the genuine response that people have.  But it is also sometimes a way (even if it is not a conscious thought) to have the affair “go away” and to speed up the whole “moving on” part.  He figures that if he gives you what you both know that you want, you’ll be more forgiving toward him and more willing to move on quickly.  The problem is that if you do this, you gloss over the issues and you are therefore vulnerable to this coming up again in the future.

Using The Potential Marriage As Motivation To Heal First: Because you want your marriage to be lasting and healthy, perhaps you could use this event as motivation for him to do what needs to be done toward healing.

You might try something like: “you know that I would love to marry you. But things have changed now because of the infidelity. We can’t start out a marriage before we have healed this. I’d like to see if we can do that, but I need your cooperation. I’d like to have a counselor help us to heal. If this works, then I would not be opposed to getting married. But I want to start our marriage with the confidence that we have moved past this and have worked through the issues that lead to this. It’s bad enough to deal with infidelity when you are not yet married. I do not want to deal with it as a married couple. So will you go to counseling with me? Let’s take it one step at a time. Let’s think about healing first and then if that all works out well, we can think about marriage further down the line once we are able to move past this.”

I know that part of you probably wishes that you could quiet those doubts in your mind, get married, and move on. But I can tell you from experience that those voices may haunt you until you do the work to heal. Truly, for me, healing was the only thing that gave me confidence in my marriage and in my husband again. I don’t believe that you can truly have the confidence until you do the work.

No one is saying that you have to take marriage off the table forever. But it makes sense to wait until the relationship has healed. Because getting married should be a wonderful, happy time. You don’t want to have to worry if he’s going to cheat again.  So it makes sense to heal and then remove those doubts so that when you go get married, there is nothing else to think about other than just enjoying, and fully experiencing, that day with an open-heart and a clear-mind.

There were times when I wanted to turn back and just try to forget about my husband’s cheating because the healing process is painful.  It’s like pulling off a scab.  I soon learned though, that it’s not possible to forget.  The only way for those doubts to quiet is to heal.  At least that was my experience.  It may be different for someone else. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Reasons Why Affairs Don’t Usually Last

By: Katie Lersch:  I get a good deal of correspondence from wives who are hoping that their husband’s affair fails miserably.  These wives are typically looking for statistics that are going to give them reassurance that the affair is ultimately going to end and go up in flames.

Someone might ask: “my friends are telling me that affairs never last and that my husband’s affair is eventually going to end without my needing to do a lot about it.  They say that I am wasting a lot of energy worrying because the odds are in my favor.  In truth, I don’t know a lot of people who have cheated.  And the one couple that I do know who met each other when having an affair actually ended up leaving their spouses and getting married.  Admittedly, they have a rocky marriage and trust is always an issue between them.  But their relationship is still going. So is it true that most affairs don’t last? And if so, why?”

The Numbers: It is absolutely true that most affairs do not last.  Statistically speaking, only between 3 and 5 percent of affairs end in marriage.  This is quite low.  And when you consider that 75% of second marriages fail, you get a sense of how unlikely it is that even if an affair couple marries, they will have a life-long relationship.  I’d suspect that the divorce rate for couples whose relationship started as an affair would be higher than the 75% divorce rate of second marriages.

Why? For the same reasons that affairs in general don’t last.  I will list some of these reasons below.

The Relationship Is Based On Secrecy, A Lack Of Integrity, And Lies:  Any time your relationship is based on negative, shameful things like secrecy and lies, this does not give it a very good foundation.  In truth, neither person likely feels very proud of this background.  There is shame and guilt from the very beginning. While other couples will proudly reminisce about meeting in church or on a blind date, the cheating couple have to reminisce about how they pretty much started their relationship in a closet while lying to others.  This is not the best way to begin. Not only that, but often this couple’s friends and family members are secretly hoping that they fail because they do not approve of how the relationship started.

If He’ll Do It With You, He’ll Do It To You:  This is probably the biggest obstacle that these couples face.  They struggle with trust.  And this is understandable because each person has already shown themselves to be capable of cheating and leaving their spouse for the cheating partner.  Now that the cheating parter has become the spouse, what is to stop the cheating from happening with someone new?  Of course, every one wants to believe that they are so special that they are soul mates who will never need or want to cheat again.  Statistically speaking though, this is usually not true.

The Dynamic Of The Relationship Changes: Remember when I said that the people in the cheating relationship believe that they are special? Well, in a sense they are sort of right.  It is hard for a marriage to compete with an affair – at least on one level – because it’s a fantasy that is not rooted in reality.  The affair partner isn’t having to pick up anyone’s dirty socks. And the woman in the affair just wants to focus on the positive – she doesn’t nag or exhibit any real expectations, especially at first.  Theoretically, it is all about fun.

But when they are in a long term relationship or married, this changes.  Suddenly, she does have to pick up his dirty socks.  She seems him the bathroom cutting his nose hairs and burping at the dinning room table.  He sees her dying her hair and plucking her eyebrows.  That’s not as attractive as seeing her only when she’s only at her best.

In short, the monotony of a marriage suddenly replaces the excitement of the affair.   And it’s not nearly as exciting and magical.  This can leave both people feeling very let down and disappointed that they traded in their old life and hurt so many people when they are now pretty much living their old life with someone new and still having a new set of complications.

In Hindsight, The Affair Did Not Make Everything Better: People often assume that the affair is going to fix all of their problems or insecurities.  This just isn’t possible as you have to do this for yourself.  So that is another set of disappointments that soon become apparent.

In short, an affair rarely lives up to the promise it starts with.  Once it has to exist in reality, it changes.  Plus, it often starts with so much against it that is is nearly impossible to keep the momentum going.

So I would agree with your friends that the odds are definitely in your favor – simply because the odds and statistics tell us that most affairs are not lasting and do not end in marriage.  However, I don’t think that this is a reason to just sit back and do nothing for your own healing.  There is plenty that you can do for yourself to move yourself forward regardless of what your husband is doing at the time.  I think that it’s important that you don’t just wait around for him to come to a decision or realization.  Self help or counseling can mean that you move forward regardless of what he decides.  And this doesn’t mean that you’re moving away from your marriage necessarily.  It just means that you are strengthening yourself so that when there is a resolution, you are ready.

I didn’t wait for my husband to start the healing.  I began it myself.  He later came along for the ride.  But I didn’t wait on him.  You’re welcome to read about more of the story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Spouse Won’t Have Sex With Me Anymore Because I Had An Affair

By: Katie Lersch:  Sex is often a huge source of conflict after an affair.  It can be awkward.  It can be infrequent.  Or, in some cases, it can be nonexistent. This can be because the cheating spouse feels that they don’t have the right to ask for sex or they don’t want to push it.  Or, the faithful spouse will find the idea of sext to be  just too much too soon.

A husband might say: “my wife refuses to have sex with me.  I know that it is because I had an affair and I do understand that.  But she’s been very open about the fact that having sex with me is kind of repulsive to her because all she can do is picture me having sex with the other woman. And because of this, she almost looks at me like a sexual deviant or someone who can’t get enough.  She says that intercourse should be a loving act among a committed couple and not just two people going at it like animals.  I asked her how long she plans to refuse.  She said she has no idea.  She says that even the thought of it makes her sick.  I do understand that most of this is all my fault.  But I also can not agree to a future with no sex.  She seems content just to remain a family for the sake of our children.  But she doesn’t seem very interested in being my wife in every sense of the word.  Honestly, I’m pretty sure that if she refuses me forever, I will cheat again.  And what else would she expect?  How can I get her to have sex with me so I will not have to be unfaithful again?”

I am going to be honest and say that it’s hard for me to answer this without getting emotional.  Because I am a wife who has been through this. But I am going to try very hard to give a thoughtful answer because I would hope that these insights would help your wife.

There is no time frame for resuming sex.  Pressuring your wife does not help.  If anything, that would likely make her feel even less sexual toward you.  Quite honestly, sex can sometimes be the very last thing on your mind after infidelity.  Because just the thought of it can bring you pain.  It can be very scary because you’re afraid that the act of having sex is going to make you think of your spouse in the act with the other woman.  That’s not a mental picture that you want.  You want to avoid this for as long as can possible can.

And, wives are also often afraid that the husband will compare the two women and believe that the sex with the wife is “not as good” or not as exciting.  She’s likely already worried that she doesn’t measure up to the other woman.  She doesn’t want to give herself another worry.

Does all of this mean that she’ll never sleep with you again?  No, not necessarily.  I sleep with my husband on a regular basis today and in some ways, it is better than ever.  But it took a while to get to this place.  I was not prepared to connect physically until I could connect emotionally. I was not going to be able to have any sort of emotional connection until I could trust again and believe that my husband was truly sorry and committed to me.  This did not come immediately.

And frankly, I am not sure that it would have been possible if I had thought that his only interest was getting me to sleep with him as soon as possible.  If I thought that he cared more about getting his physical needs met than getting my emotional needs met after the pain he caused, then I may not have been interested in the sexual aspect of my marriage anymore.

You need to understand how devastating and painful this is to your wife.  Quite honestly, I believe that the quickest way to resume your sex life is to turn your attention away from it and place it back on helping your wife to heal.  She will see that you are interested in much more than just getting her to forget this so that she can resume her wifely duties.  She will see that care about her beyond the bedroom and this is vital.

This is not the time to be selfish.  This is not the time to think only of yourself and your own needs.  Put your wife first.  Have patience with her.  Understand how devastating your actions were.  Become the man that you know you want to be.  Become the husband that she deserves.  If you are able to do these things, her desire for you may come back.

It’s my own experience that having sex just for the sake of it isn’t really optimal.  It’s not likely to be a good experience if you’re not both into it.  I decided that it was better to wait until I could genuinely want it than to force it and have it turn out badly for both of us. You’re welcome to read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com