Our Relationship Is So Different After My Husband’s Affair. Will It Ever Be The Same Again?

By: Katie Lersch: Wives can feel as if they have lost many things after their husband’s affair.  Often you feel as if you’ve lost a little bit of your self esteem, your confidence in your marriage and your husband, and your belief that you are perceptive enough to know what’s going on.  Another loss that many wives describe is predictability in their relationship.  Many describe a marriage that “is just different” than the one that existed before the affair.

I often hear comments on my “surviving the affair” blog like: “we used to have such an easy rapport and relationship but now things are so strained and awkward.”  Or “our marriage used to be filled with laughter and endless conversation but now you could hear a pin drop when we’re together.  The laughter has died and in it’s place is pain and silence.”  One more example is “we used to be very affectionate to one another.  We were always touching or holding hands.  Now, we rarely touch one another anymore.  It seems like we’re both afraid of doing the wrong thing or of facing rejection.   Our marriage right now after his affair is so foreign to me.  It’s so different than the one we had before.  Will things ever be the same again?  Because I want my old life back.  I don’t like this new one at all.”  I’ll try to address these concerns in the following article.

Your Marriage May Not Be Exactly The Same After An Affair.  But, If You Rebuild, Your Marriage Can Still Be Happy, Fulfilling And Sometimes, Even Better: In my experience in dealing with my own husband’s affair, it can be unrealistic to think that you can carry on as if nothing happened or that you can turn back time to reveal the exact same marriage as before.  Despite your best efforts of your intentions, you often can’t ignore what happened.  And, this knowledge will understandably make you a bit cautious and doubtful because you’ve been hurt before.

But many marriages use these doubts and fears as motivation to make positive changes rather than to give in to the negativity that has settled in.  Yes, it’s absolutely normal to be angry or even furious that the marriage you thought you knew (or were even happy in) was not exactly what you thought it to be.  But one mistake does not mean that your entire marriage was a farce.  It doesn’t mean that you and your husband never loved one another, didn’t have a good marriage, or weren’t happy.  It simply means that, for whatever reason, you were momentarily vulnerable and unfortunately, one of the spouses acted due to that vulnerability.

Often, the real key to getting your marriage to place where it feels “normal” or similar to what you’ve experienced before is to identify that vulnerability and then to remove it.  Because if you can do this, then you can usually also begin to remove some of those doubts.  The reason for this is that you’ll then know that the reason for the affair is removed so that you don’t have to constantly worry anymore.  And, not only can this be very freeing and such a relief, but often the work that you do to remove those vulnerabilities will actually improve your marriage.

Couples often find that they are forced to be truly honest, open, and forthcoming.  They are no longer reluctant to discuss any worrisome issues with or to reach out to their spouse because they now know the danger of doing so.  Also, often an affair will show both people just how close they have come to losing their marriage or their spouse.  This is often a wake up call that isn’t other wise possible.  By no means am I saying that an affair can be a positive thing.  But, I do believe that it can bring about positive changes for your marriage if you use it to motivate you rather than allowing it to weaken your marriage to the point of no return.

Identify What You Most Miss About Your Spouse Or Your Marriage And Be Very Proactive About Getting It Back: If you’re in a situation where you’re mourning what you have lost, you don’t have to just accept that the life that you knew is gone forever or that you will never get it back.  For example, the wife in the above scenario missed the easy rapport and the continuous physical affection that she and her husband shared. Being able to identify and then to focus on these things are the first steps toward getting them back.

But rather than merely mourning this loss, be very proactive about rebuilding these aspects of your relationship.  This is hard for many people because reaching out again to someone who has betrayed or disappointed you can make you feel very vulnerable and even a little foolish.  But, unless you want to continue to live in a marriage that is missing something, you will sometimes have to step outside of your comfort zone and take a chance.  I know that sometimes when you do this, you have the sinking feeling that you’re going to be hurt again.  But if you don’t take that chance, you will never know what your marriage could have been.

Countless couples are able to create an even stronger and more open marriage after an affair because they come to learn the vulnerabilities and lacking that were present.  Addressing your issues is sometimes uncomfortable but it is often worth it because it makes you not only stronger, but more aware of your spouse’s wants and needs and just how badly it feels when you face the threat of loosing them.

I sometimes hear women say that their husband’s affair was the best thing that ever happened to them or their marriage.  I wouldn’t take it that fair.  If I had the choice, I wish my husband’s affair had never happened to us. But, at the same time, I can look back at it now and see where the work we did really did improve our marriage and make it even better in some ways than it was before.  So while our marriage isn’t technically the same, it’s actually improved in some areas and we’re pretty darn happy. My answer to the posed question would be that, although it’s unlikely that your marriage will be exactly the same, you can return it to a happy and fulfilling place.

If you would’ve told me two years ago that I would have a happy marriage again today, I would have never believed you.  My marriage went through some very dark days and there were times when I thought we would never get through it, but we did and we’re actually better off in some ways for it.  If it helps, you can read more of  my story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

Our Family Has Respect For My Husband’s Affair Partner

By: Katie Lersch: It’s almost inevitable that the faithful spouse is going to compare themselves to the other person in the affair. This can be true even when they are otherwise confident and sure of themselves. It’s very normal to ask yourself what the other person had that you didn’t. This is compounded (and even more painful) when other people who you know and care about have their own opinions about the other person, especially if those opinions are positive ones.

A wife might say: “not only did my husband cheat on me, but he cheated on me with a well-known woman in our community. She has a very high-profile job and she is well liked. Frankly, my husband’s family is very socially and politically connected. And, when they found out about the affair, they didn’t scold their son or tell him that they were disappointed that he would cheat on his wife. Nope. Instead, they acted like he’d landed a great catch who could greatly improve his career.  They’re almost supporting the affair.  Even my own sister asked how in the world my husband could attract ‘a woman like that.’ So now I feel doubly devastated as if everyone thinks that my husband would be much better off with her. How do you handle it when your family respects and admires the woman your husband is cheating with?”

I will admit these are tough questions, and I would suggest posing these questions to a very good therapist, as that person is much more qualified to give an opinion on this than I am. Having said that, it’s my opinion from my own experience that when you are trying to heal after an affair, you can not let anyone else’s non-professional opinion matter more than your own and more than your therapist, if you have one.

I know it hurts to hear people express respect for the other woman when her actions are anything but respectable.  But, I think what matters most here is your own experiences and your own healing. Who the other person is can’t and shouldn’t affect your process. She could be a complete unknown and she could be so famous that every one knows her, but the process of healing is the same either way. You have to go inside yourself and you have to understand that you can not let anyone else define who you are and what your own worth is.

That includes your husband. And your family. And the other woman. Only you get to decide who you are and what you are worth. I know that this situation is going to make it potentially more difficult. You may have to keep reminding yourself that this is about you internally and not external forces vying for your attention and threatening to put you off track.

I’d like to make a point that may or may not bear out to be true. Sometimes, a strong or powerful woman isn’t as alluring in this situation as she might first appear. Sure, she may seem appealing now. But when your husband gets a taste of how it feels to always defer to her career, or to play second fiddle, he might find that this isn’t as cool and wonderful as it first appeared.  Also, appearances can be deceiving.  She may look one way, but be completely different (and less impressive) in reality.

Not only that, but there can be problematic circumstances that come with two people in the same careers (with both in positions of power.) Many couples are able to navigate this with a lot of compromise and hard work. But if you add on the additional stress of the relationship being an affair, then navigating it might be more difficult.

It may or may not make you feel better to respond back to people when they make comments that indicate that they are impressed by (or respect) the other woman. But I would try to limit this. Because when you get defensive, it just diminishes your power. If you find someone commenting that the other woman is such a catch, you might say something like: “you can have your own opinion about that, but I’d rather not hear it. We’re talking about my life and my marriage and I believe that I’m a pretty good catch also. I’d like to leave it at this and not discuss it anymore.”

Try to keep your tone even and calm so that it is clear that the conversation is over and that you don’t intend to discuss it any longer. Hopefully, you will only have to say this once and it will blow over. Because frankly, the sooner that you put her out of your mind and begin focusing on your own healing, the better off you are going to be.

I can’t predict what might happen with this husband. The wife hadn’t explained what his intentions or behaviors were like. But I don’t think you can ever go wrong with starting with yourself and your own well being.  At least this was my experience.  Sometimes, it felt selfish – focusing on myself.  But this turned out to be time very well spent.   You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Can A Man Who Loves His Wife Have An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from wives who are really struggling with the reality that their husband has had an affair. Often, the hardest part for them is not the betrayal itself, but the circumstances that preceded the betrayal. Many of these wives are so confused because they had good marriages and loving husbands. In fact, many believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that these same loving husbands would never cheat. And, many of these wives will admit that they suspect that their husband still loves them, even after his cheating. That’s why his cheating can be so horribly confusing.

I heard from a wife who said: “there is no doubt in my mind that my husband loved me during his affair and I fully believe that he loves me now. That’s why I simply can’t wrap my brain around why he would cheat on me. I admit that our lives were stressful when I was undergoing treatment for severe thyroid issues. But my husband was so loving and supportive during that time that I never would have suspected that he was caring for me in the evenings and then having an affair with his coworker during the day. How could he know that I was home sick and still  carry out what he did? How could he love and worry about me and then sleep with someone else? How can a man who truly loves his wife cheat on her?”  I will try to answer these questions in the following article.

Often, A Husband’s Affair Doesn’t Have Anything Whatsoever To Do With His Love For His Wife: There are many types of affairs. We all know of or have even heard from the husband who will claim he cheated or had an affair because his wife just didn’t understand or appreciate him. Or, he’ll say that his wife had let herself go or had changed, so as a result, he fell out of love with her and had an affair with someone else.

In fact, that is so common an excuse that many people will just assume that a cheating husband no longer loves his wife. This is most certainly not true in every case. A good number of cheating men actually love, adore, and lust after their wives. Men who have good and active sex lives cheat. Men who could not ever imagine their lives without their wives still cheat. Men who look their wives right in the face and truthfully declare their undying love cheat on those same wives. Why? Because sometimes the cheating and the love have nothing to do with one another.

If Men Don’t Cheat Because They No Longer Love Their Wives, Then Why Do They Cheat?: There isn’t one answer to this question. But, if I had to simplify it, my answer would be to provide a diversion or relief from some problem or issue that is usually completely separate from their marriage. Sometimes, they cheat in times of stress during which they feel powerless. In the above scenario, the wife’s health issues had been very stressful on both she and her husband. By no means am I using this to defend her husband’s actions. But, for whatever reason, it is very common for men to cheat during times when they under a high amount of stress like an illness, a job loss, a period of self doubt or a period of feeling helpless. During such times, the cheating is in response to the stress and is an attempt to man the man feel less helpless or worthless. It doesn’t have anything to do with his love for his wife, which is still very much in tact. In fact, sometimes part of the frustration comes with loving your wife and with feeling powerless to help her like with the above situation.

Another thing you’ll often hear is the husband say he didn’t feel that he was “good enough” or “worthy” of someone like his wife so he sabotaged his relationship because, again he was struggling with those feelings of being worthless.

If Your Loving Husband Cheated Or Had An Affair, Where Does That Leave You?: Most likely, you will have a choice to make. There are times when wives in this situation will begin to doubt their husband’s love for them, even when there is that little voice in the back of their head that says things like: “but remember that time when he stayed up with you all night when you couldn’t sleep?” Or “remember how he looks at you? How can he fake that?”

It’s very difficult to juggle the knowledge that he has done very loving things and acted in loving ways and yet he has committed an act that betrays that love. And yet, among all the confusion, there’s still a choice to make. You’ll ultimately need to decide if that same love is enough. You’ll need to ask yourself if the remaining love is enough for you to try to rehabilitate your marriage and work through whatever personal issues may have lead up to his cheating.

That is not a decision that anyone can make but you. Some women will look at both the man and the marriage over the course of many years and decide that the good things that he has done outweigh that one bad decision. And others will decide that no matter how much they love their husband or he loves them, cheating is just not something that they will ever overcome.

I know it is a difficult decision, but I hope this article has shed a little light on how it’s possible for a man who loves his wife to make a very huge mistake (for which he is likely very sorry) and to cheat.

I actually never doubted my husband’s love for me after his affair.  I knew he loved me before, during and after it.  The question really was if that love was enough to pull us through.  In the end, it took more than love.  It took a lot of work, determination and skill.  But we made it.  If it helps, you can read all about it on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Why Is He Flaunting His Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  There is often a perception that a man who is having an affair will do everything in his power to keep his wife from finding out.  People assume that he will cover his tracks, delete his texts, and perhaps even have a separate phone for his wife and for the other woman.

Some men are exactly this sneaky.  But not all men.  There are a small subset of men who seem to not care if their wife finds out about the affair.  In fact, some of them almost leave clues for her to follow.  And some wives will tell you that not only did he not hide the affair, he actually flaunted it.  Someone might say: “my husband never really tried to camouflage his affair.  He kept his phone right on the counter when she would text him.  He wouldn’t announce that he was seeing someone else when he would go out, but he wouldn’t make excuses for himself either.  He’d just not come home or he’d come home when he knew that I was asleep.  When I finally asked him if he was having an affair, his response was: ‘well it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?’  He never apologized.  He never offered to break it off.  Now that I know about her, he’s completely honest when he informs me who he is with.  He doesn’t willingly talk about her, but he doesn’t change the subject either.  He will leave gifts for her on the counter.  He’ll get all dressed up and hum to himself when he is on his way to see her.  I find this to be incredibly insensitive and I do not understand why he is doing this.  Why would a man flaunt his affair?”

I admittedly do not know your husband, but I do have some theories as to why some men feel the need to flaunt their extra curricular activities.  I will discuss them below.

As Pay Back For Something:  Many husbands make every attempt to justify an affair.  The most common reason I find that a man will flaunt his cheating is when his wife has cheated on him previously.  In this case, he WANTS her to know.  He’s hoping that she will find out.  He can’t wait until the day that she realizes that he has paid her back. This is his way of saying “two can play that game.”  Or “see, there are other women out there who will want me if you don’t.”

And even if the wife has not previously cheated, he may still be trying to pay her back for some perceived slight.  He may still be trying to show her that he’s still attractive and desirable.  He may want her to feel sorry for something she has done.

He’s Deeply Involved With The Other Relationship And Doesn’t Care Who Knows It:  Sometimes, especially in the early days of an affair, people can kind of get caught up in it.  Early on, they aren’t really asking themselves where the relationship is going to go or who it is going to hurt.  So it’s easy to get caught up in the moment without tempering your actions.  His “flaunting” it can be an extension of this. And his enthusiasm may mean that he’s not spending any energy or time trying to cover his tracks.

He Just Wants To Feel Good About Himself:  Honestly, I think that the biggest reason that men have affairs is to feel positive about themselves.  As they age, slow down, or doubt themselves, they become much more vulnerable to an affair.  Starting a new relationship proves to them that they are still in the game.  In a way, flaunting the relationship is trying to show YOU that they are still in the game.

It is almost a way of seeking your approval.  They hope that when you see how they can be desired by someone else, then they will also be desirable to you and to themselves.  I know that this need seems very silly and needy.  But it is real.

It’s not all that different from people constantly posting selfies on Facebook and being so desperate for attention and validation.  This “flaunting” behavior is along those same lines.  They are flaunting because they are desperately seeking approval, validation, and self esteem.

Yes, they are looking for these things in a way that makes them look silly and misguided, but the underlying theme is that they are motivated to act because they just don’t feel very great about themselves.  And when they start to feel better, they want everyone to know.

If someone had an affair, but no one knew, then the validation and boost in self esteem wouldn’t be as great.  It’s the reason that people post selfies instead of keeping them private.  If you took your own photo, but no one else saw it, the impact would not be the same, or so the thinking goes.

None of the above validates or excuses the affair.  Not by a long shot.  All of us have our struggles, but not all of us cheat.  By no means am I defending cheating husbands who have the nerve to flaunt the affair.  I am just trying to give you some insights into their flawed psychology.

It is up to you as to how you want to handle this.  Sometimes, he will eventually realize what a fool he has been.  You could certainly tell him, but he will often be defensive and ignore you.  In my own experience, I tended to work on myself when my husband was acting foolish or defensive.  There were times when you just could not have an adult conversation with him. So I learned that sometimes I had to change my focus  and place it on myself and on my own healing during these times.  I simply took myself out of the equation and did not interact at that time. Like most men, my husband was eventually embarrassed by his own foolishness and apologized profusely.  But I certainly had no desire to interact with him when he was being a fool.  Every wife has to make her own decisions about these things.  You can read more about my experiences after the affair at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Family Doesn’t Offer Their Support Because I Took Back My Cheating Husband

By: Katie Lersch:  If you’ve ever dealt with infidelity, you know that it’s an extremely painful time where you need as much understanding and support as you can get.  Many people hesitate to share with others what they are going through, but if they choose to tell a select few, they do so in the hopes that those carefully chosen people will support them unconditionally and without judgement.

And it’s very disappointing when these folks who you have placed your confidence in don’t respond with loving support.  It can make you feel as if you’ve been betrayed twice or that no one really cares at a time when you need this the most.

A wife might explain it this way: “honestly, I don’t think that my family has ever liked my husband.  Of course, they participated in the wedding because they love me and want to support me.  But a few of my sisters and my mother repeatedly asked me if I was sure about it.  Admittedly, before he met me, my husband had the reputation as a ladies’ man.  He was always with different women.  He was considered quite the catch.  But once we became serious, he stopped flirting so much and I honestly felt that he had changed.  Well, unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case because I just found out he has been cheating on me.  He has promised to break it off and go to counseling.  So I have agreed not to leave him as long as he does what he has promised.  I am very close to my sisters and my mother and they know me very well.  They know when something is wrong with me.  When we were all shopping the other day, they asked me what was wrong and I started to sob.  It was obvious that something awful had happened and they asked me to share my troubles with them so I did.  They all immediately said they knew that my husband was all wrong for me and that they had never really trusted him.  They said that they would support me when I left him and assured me that we would get through this as a family.  At that time, I didn’t tell them that I had made the decision to stay with him because I just did not have the energy or will to debate about it.  But a couple of weeks later, they came over to my home and of course saw my husband still there.  Later, they asked me why in the world I hadn’t kicked him out.  I finally told them the truth and said that we were going to go to counseling in order to work it out.  They were clearly angry and they left without us going shopping as we had planned.  Since then, I haven’t heard from them.  I used to talk to my sisters and mother every day.  We used to get together every couple of days.  This hurts me very much.  I feel like I’m potentially losing my husband and now I might lose my extended family.  What can I do?”

I think that the first matter of importance is understanding that you are likely seeing this behavior because your family loves you, even though it may not feel like it right now.  They likely hate to see you hurt and they are angry at the person who hurt you (your husband.)  The anger isn’t directed at you, but I know that it can feel as if it is sometimes.

The goal should be to get them to understand that because you love them as much as they love you, you’re being hurt by them withdrawing from you.  Sometimes, you will just have to have an honest conversation about this and clear the air so that they understand that their behavior isn’t helping.

You might try a conversation like this: “I know that we haven’t been in touch in a few days and I miss you.  I know that you’re not happy that my husband is still here. I understand that you don’t want for me to be hurt.  I know that seeing me in pain hurts you.  But I know that what you really want is what’s best for me and for me to be happy.  It’s difficult for me to be anything but miserable without the support of my family.  I need you guys – now more than ever.  Please know that I am going to get professional help to deal with this.  The counselor will help me decide the best course of action regarding my marriage.  I’m in good hands in that regard.  Don’t worry about that.  I don’t need help with that. I have a professional advising me.  But what I do need, more than anything, is your unconditional love and support.  We don’t have to talk about my marriage when we get together. But I need for us to be together.  I need your support.  We have other things to bond over besides our marriages and I need that right now.”

Hopefully, this will bring them around.  And frankly, they will likely back off of their anger once they see that the counseling is helping you and they have some reassurance that you are going to be OK. They are acting out of worry, but their behavior is misplaced.  They can help you more by just being there without judgement.  Because even when life is perfect, everyone can benefit from a loving family.  Sometimes we just have to learn that we can love and support someone without being judgmental.

Since going through my own husband’s affair, I’m extremely careful about appearing judgmental around other friends or family members going through the same thing.  I know first hand that what these wives need for me is to just listen and to be there.  They don’t need for me to be their marriage counselor.  They just need for me to be their friend.  I don’t offer any judgement unless they ask.  And even then, I’m reluctant. You can read more about my gradual recovery at http://surviving-the-affair.com

I’m Trying To Recover From An Affair Years Later And I Feel That This Puts Me At A Disadvantage

By: Katie Lersch:  Ideally, we all want to learn about the affair soon after it began; or if that is not possible, immediately after it is over.  We want this because it’s best to deal with the present as it is happening.  We want this because facts and memories are most accurate when they have just occured.  Unfortunately, this scenario is not reality for some people.

Sometimes, your spouse does not confess (or you do not find out) right away.  In some cases, years have gone by.  And this can make healing a little more tricky.  How do you approach this when the affair happened so far in the past and your spouse is claiming that this is all water under the bridge? Does it matter that your marriage has been relatively good since the infidelity happened, even though you were unaware of it?

Here’s a story that you might hear: “last weekend, my husband and I were watching a movie.  The theme of the movie was a marriage wrecked by a silly one night stand. During one of the pivotal scenes of the movie, my husband started to fidget and obviously got very uncomfortable.  I asked him what was wrong, but he denied that there was a problem. Later in the movie, when the spouse found out about the affair and I got very upset and was yelling about the betrayal, I noticed that there were tears in my husband’s eyes. Once again I asked him what was wrong.  Finally, he blurted out that eight years ago, he’d had a brief affair.  He blubbered and carried on, muttering that he was sorry. I tried to ask questions at that time, but he could not get out any real information.  He was crying and sputtering and frankly being pretty pathetic. Later, I was able to determine that a trainer at his job who was only there for a month was ‘the other woman.’  This was shortly after we had begun to have children and obviously this was a stressful time.  Because the trainer left town shortly after her job was over, the affair ended and he claims that they never had contact again.  He claims that there was no deep emotional attachment and that he has never cheated again.  I am not sure what to do with this.  I am furious. And I wonder what might happen if an available woman would come into his life again.  But then I have to admit that he’s been a great husband. And I feel conflicted at thinking otherwise.  I know that I have to deal with this.  But I don’t know how you heal from an affair that happened years ago and that you never knew about until just now.”

I agree that this is potentially tricky. But I think that you essentially heal the same way that you would if the knowledge of the affair was immediate which is: you determine what went wrong, you fix any vulnerabilities, you restore the trust, and you rebuild.

Granted, what went wrong may not be an ongoing problem now.  Many men who are new fathers are vulnerable.  They are young and they have not felt this type of responsibility before.  I am not defending them, but this is a pretty common vulnerability prior to an affair. It could  be that this is no longer a problem for your husband because he is older and more stable.  However, you should look at this issue with brutal honesty, just to be safe.

Another thing you will need to do is restore the trust. Once again, there is a twist because he has been trustworthy throughout your marriage other than this one time.  Regardless, this is a betrayal that is bound to shake the trust.  And the fact that it happened in the past does not excuse this betrayal.  And frankly, it is compounded because your husband could have told you at any point during all of these years and he did not.  That is a problem which speaks of trust.  And his being a good husband otherwise doesn’t negate that he wasn’t completely honest as the affair was going on or after it was over.

Then there is the rebuilding process, but that is generally further down the road.  It might be easier (and preferable to your husband) to downplay all of this since it happened long ago.  But I don’t think that this strategy is fair to you or best for your marriage.  It should be dealt with.  Sure, the fact that your husband has been a good one since and hasn’t cheated again counts. But it doesn’t erase what has happened.

So yes, this timing can feel like a disadvantage, but that shouldn’t stop you from demanding healing.  And frankly, the time that has passed can almost be an advantage in a way because it has shown you that your husband remained committed to your marriage and capable of remaining faithful after one mistake.  (This is something that many wives hope for (but can’t predict) when the knowledge of the affair is fresh.)

I do think that you should not discount the affair.  It happened, it must be dealt with, and his keeping it from you for years can’t be denied.  But I also think it’s fair to consider the type of husband he has been after it.  This can matter also.

I did find out about my husband’s affair relatively soon after it happened.  However, there were some facts that did not come out until much later and those had to be dealt with after-the-fact.  It was a bit tricky, but I demanded that the time which had passed did not excuse my husband, although his behavior after the affair did matter to me.  You can read more about overcoming these things on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Why Do Depressed People Have Affairs?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who either believe that they cheated on their spouse because they were depressed or have been told by a cheating spouse that feelings of hopelessness and depression may have contributed to the cheating.

Understandably, not every one comprehends how one thing would lead to another. And some wonder if this is just an excuse for someone else’s bad behavior. A wife might ask: “why is it that depressed people have a greater tendency to cheat? I just found out my husband has been cheating on me. For the past year, he has been greatly struggling with intense sadness. This started when his brother became ill. This seemed to make my husband question the meaning of life. And he seemed dissatisfied with everything all of a sudden. Before this, my husband was generally a pretty content guy. But everything changed when his brother’s health took a turn. When I asked my husband why he cheated on me when I consider myself a pretty good wife, he told me that he had been so depressed and that the cheating was the only way he felt anything whatsoever. I have noticed this happen with a couple of my friends and coworkers also. The men go through a struggle in their life and then they do something really stupid like gamble or cheat on their wives. Why do they do this? I would think that when you were sad, you wouldn’t want to do anything to make your life worse?”

I can give you my best guess, although I’m not a therapist. I hear from a lot of people who deeply regret cheating. And from their descriptions and depictions, it appears that they were attempting to make themselves feel more alive or were attempting to experience more excitement or emotion. In short, they were trying to feel something that registered so that they had a pause in feeling numb or bad.  I’ve never suffered from what I would call severe depression, but I have struggled after traumatic or sad occasions in my life. And I can tell you that when you are going through this, you truly do kind of feel numb. It is as though the volume has been turned to mute all of the time. It is as if the colors in life have been dulled down or have faded to black and white.

Understandably, this is not a fun experience. So you can feel quite desperate to want to do something in attempt to make this feel better. Unfortunately, many people use behaviors that are bad for them and / or make silly decisions in an attempt to feel better.

In my own example, I gained tons of weight after my grandfather died. He was like my father. And the death was unexpected. I am normally a careful eater and I value good health. I work out regularly and hadn’t had a weight problem before. But I ate foods that I was fully aware were bad for me. I’d feel a little better while gorging myself. But afterward, the guilt set in and I’d feel worse and the cycle would feed on itself. I gained quite a bit of weight and stopping that cycle was difficult. Although as I began to process my grandfather’s death, the bad foods lost their pull on me and I eventually lost the weight and went back to normal eating. But at the time, I was fully aware that the over eating was awful for me. I knew that it would make me feel worse and guilty at the same time. And yet, I did it anyway.

Depressed people have different ways of coping and different vices that they turn to. As you said, some will choose gambling. Some will chose infidelity. Some people don’t turn to vices. But many do. Because you feel so badly about your situation and yourself, the behaviors that you choose often reflect this. And honestly, it is hard to think clearly and to make good decisions when you feel so poorly.

I am not in any way trying to make an excuse for someone who cheats. Regardless of whether you are blissfully happy or a little depressed, cheating is a choice. But, there are times in people’s lives when they are more vulnerable to cheating or any risky behaviors, really. And times when people are stressed or sad definitely fits the bill.

I am not trying to excuse your husband, but I do think that it’s plausible that his depression could have contributed to the cheating. That is particularly true if he’s never had an infidelity issue before. And it would be understandable to struggle emotionally after the illness of a sibling.

I am not sure if your husband is open to counseling, but it could probably help him with both his depression and with the issue of cheating. Because he’s likely struggling with feelings of guilt now on top of everything else. And sometimes, when we have so much on our plates, we need a little help to see us through it.

Also, it’s important that you don’t repress your own feelings. Yes, your husband may be the one who is depressed. But finding out your spouse has cheated is a huge stressor. So don’t ignore your own feelings or your own needs. They are every bit as important as any one else’s.

I believe that stress from my husband’s new job at the time contributed to his infidelity. I understood this, but I did not accept it as an excuse.  He made a choice which had consequences.  And although I acknowledged his stress, I too had feelings and struggles that needed to be dealt with also.  You can read more about that at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Your Marriage After The Affair: Is The Intimacy Gone Forever?

By: Katie Lersch:  Even those folks who are passionate about staying married after an affair would have to admit, if they are honest, that there are doubts and worries.  Even if you are very clear that divorce is not an option and you are determined to do whatever is necessary for the sake of your marriage, you can’t help but wonder what “marriage” is going to mean in the future.

After all, isn’t your marriage irrevocably changed once infidelity damages it?  Do you always have to just accept your struggling, sub-par marriage?  Are you destined to live with anger and resentment?  Is your intimacy forever gone?

Someone might address it this way: “I feel a loss of many things after my husband’s affair.  But I refuse to let this destroy my marriage and my family and, thankfully, my husband agrees.  We have found a decent counselor, although my husband hates going and is always trying to taper down on the visits or quit.  I know that we are going to make it simply because we both refuse to let go.  But what about the intimacy?  The one thing that I have always adored about my marriage is that my husband and I were so close emotionally.  We have known one another since we were children and I’m very close to his entire family.  He knows me better than anyone else.  He knows what I am thinking before I do.  We could often communicate without any words passing between us and that was such a comfort.  I always knew that he had my back.  Well now, even though I know that we will stay together, the relationship has changed.  We only discuss small talk.  We no longer have whispered conversations at night or laugh.  We talk only when we have to. We are polite to one another.  We are both trying.  But I have this awful sense that we are never going to get the intimacy back and that breaks my heart more than the affair ever did.  Is it ever really the same?  People say that it can be, but I really don’t believe it.”

Surviving / Thriving Marriages Post-Affair Don’t Get A Lot Of Attention Or Air Play: I didn’t believe it either.  And I understand why you don’t buy it.  Honestly, I think that part of the reason that I felt that my marriage was sunk after my husband’s affair is because I’d never really actually witnessed a marriage thrive afterward.  And admittedly, you don’t often see this in the media and even friends and family don’t talk about it.  Plus, couples whose marriages thrive after infidelity don’t necessarily advertise that fact.  In fact, most people probably wouldn’t know that they had dealt with infidelity at all.  Because, why advertise it?  Whose business is it?

You’re more likely to hear about the marriages that don’t work because let’s face it, misery loves company and heartache sells tabloids and reality TV.

A Changing Marriage Isn’t Always An Inferior Marriage: I am biased.  But I do believe that in some cases you can get the intimacy back, although it’s naive to think that your marriage isn’t going to change.  It does change.  But you know what?  So many things change your marriage.  Hardships can’t help but affect it, but they often also make it stronger.  And you can’t always control what hardships affect your marriage.  One of the worst strains to my marriage was one of my childrens’ illness.  You would not think that this would have damaged us so much – but it did.  We were both so frightened, so tired, and so worried.  And because we were totally focused on our child, we lost focus on our marriage.  It was awful. But it made us stronger.  So when the affair came, I knew that we had the capability to weather the storm if I chose that route.

There are many such events that are going to shake your marriage over your life. But when you hold hands, take a deep breath, refuse to give up, cling together, and come out on the other side, your bond is stronger.  Certainly, sometimes you look back on the event and you wish that it never happened.  But you know that you can’t change it, that you are glad to have it past you, and you realize that you would not have wanted to go through it with anyone but your spouse.

What Has To Happen To Restore Intimacy: Admittedly, in order for the intimacy to return, you will have to get past the anger.  You will have to work through the issues.  You will have to eventually allow yourself to be trusting and vulnerable again.  Because I learned the hard way that you can not have intimacy without trust and vulnerability. And that is the rub. It’s a leap of faith.  And it’s scary.  And it takes a while until you are ready or willing to make that leap.

That’s OK.  Sometimes, all you can do is committed to sticking it out in the beginning.  That’s enough for now.  Don’t rush it.  Don’t think that you aren’t making progress.  Take it one day at a time and know that at some point, you may look around and realize that you are making it, that you are rebuilding, and that you are starting to get some intimate feelings back.  It doesn’t happen quickly. And it doesn’t happen all at once.  But it does happen.  And it becomes like any other stressor in your marriage – you get through it, you never want to repeat it, but you are OK in spite of it.

I’m not going to tell you that I’m fine with the fact that my husband had an affair.  I’m not.  I’d give anything if it had never happened.  Just like I’d give anything if my child had never gotten sick.  But I can’t change these things.  And weathering those storms made my marriage stronger.  There’s more about how we made it through on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Long Does It Take For Your Marriage To Get Back To Normal After An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  I often hear from people who are wondering for how long things are going to feel so tense and awful after their spouse has cheated and had an affair.  I often hear from these folks weeks or months after the affair has been discovered and many of them had hoped that things would have improved more than they actually have.  I heard from a wife who said: “I found out about five months ago that my husband had an affair with a coworker.  He did tell me the truth about it and he has worked with me to save our marriage.  We are both trying really hard but things are just so awkward.  He tells me he feels as if he is constantly walking on egg shells around me and I fully admit that I very often feel angry and hurt.  In short, things are just not the same.  They are not even close to the same.  Things feel forced, weird, and just off between us.  How long does it take for your life and your marriage to get back to normal after the affair?  Because I’m getting very tired of waiting.  And if this is the way my marriage is going to be for the rest of my life then I’m not sure if it’s worth it to save my marriage.”

I understood how this wife felt because I have felt the exact same feelings.  After your spouse has an affair, it can feel as if someone as stolen your normal life and replaced it with something that is completely foreign and undesirable.  And when time goes by so slowly with no real improvement, it can begin to feel as if this is how your life, and your marriage, is always going to be.  It’s very easy to make these types of assumptions, but I can tell you that they are often wrong.  It’s my experience that things do get better and that life does eventually return to normal.  How quickly this happens often depends on how hard you are working to heal.  Often, if you don’t fully address and fix the underlying issues, then they will remain.  And when they remain, that’s when the awkward and unnatural feelings continue to hang around.  I will discuss this more below.

The Sooner You Work Through The Issues And Restore The Trust, The Sooner Things Will Feel More Normal:  As I alluded to,  often is a lot of time has passed and things still feel weird between you, then you need to look at your healing process.  You can’t expect for your marriage to heal if you don’t examine where it might have been vulnerable and where you need to now fix it.  And even when this process is complete, you will need to restore the trust until you can both feel at ease once again.  If you try to skip over either of these steps, then you’re bound to have that feeling of unease that we’ve been talking about.  You feel a little out of sorts and paranoid because you’re wondering if he’s going to cheat again.  Or, you find that you’re still angry over little things because you still aren’t satisfied with his answers or you still haven’t fully resolved the issues.

Having these feelings doesn’t mean that things won’t get better or that you won’t even feel normal.  It just means that there is more work to do.  I know that it can be frustrating, but the upside to this is that if you give the issues the attention they deserve and you are then able to restore the trust, your reward is piece of mind.  And believe me when I say that after you have been through something like this, the normal, boring and ordinary days will seem so very precious by comparison.  You will value your marriage and your husband that much more when they are restored.  And also, you aren’t as apt to take your marriage and your family for granted because it becomes obvious that things can change in the blink of an eye.

So to answer the question posed, how long it takes to feel normal again varies depending on many factors.  It really helps if both people are very committed to fully addressing and solving any problems.  And it helps if the cheating spouse is very motivated to take responsibility for restoring the trust.  If these things don’t happen immediately, it certainly doesn’t mean that they will never happen.  It just means that you may have to be more proactive and you may have to ask for what you need.  Because your spouse likely feels that things aren’t right also and, even though he is the reason for the unease, he probably wants to get things back to normal as badly as you do.

I know how frustrated you feel.  I would say that it probably took us around a year to begin to regain what had been lost.  Part of this was I could not let go of my anger.  Once I began to heal, things picked up.  Now, I rarely think about the affair anymore.  I have just moved on and our marriage is actually better.  If it helps, you can read my story of recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Why Would My Husband Cheat But Then Want To Stay In The Marriage?

by: katie lersch:  I’ve had people tell me that there are two camps of cheaters, as follows:

1. those who want out of their relationship (or are not fully invested in it) and therefore don’t care if they get caught; and

2. those who hope and pray that they never get caught because they are still very much invested in their relationship or marriage and in love with their spouse or partner.

Many people have a very hard time understanding why anyone would cheat or have an affair when they are still invested in their marriage.  It just seems to be a silly and risky thing to do.

I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “I found out three days ago that my husband has been cheating and having an affair with one of our neighbors.  When he confessed to me, I fully expected him to tell me that he wanted a divorce and was getting ready to pack his bags.  But this isn’t what happened.  Instead, he said that he wanted to be honest with me because he wanted to save our marriage.  This just makes no sense to me.  Why would you cheat on someone to whom you wanted to remain married? My husband knows me pretty well.  He has watched me support many friends whose marriages were destroyed by infidelity and he knows that I have no tolerance for it.  So, when he was cheating, he must have known that once I found out, there was a chance that I would leave him.  And yet, here he is confessing but telling me that he wants to stay in the marriage rather than leave it.  Can you explain the thinking behind this?  Because I just don’t understand why a person who wants to stay in the marriage would risk that same marriage by cheating.”

In the following article, I’m going to try to explain what might motivate a person to cheat even when they fully intend to remain married.

Many People Who Cheat Never Intend To Get Caught And Intend For The Unplanned Cheating To Be A Very Short Lived Affair: Before I get into the reasons for cheating and then wanting to stay married, I have to tell you that you may not fully buy what I’m about to tell you.  I completely understand that because, as a woman who has been cheated on,  I don’t always buy what men tell me either.  It is very hard for to understand a thought process that would never be mine.

With that said, many people who cheat will tell you that they didn’t go into it with any intention of being unfaithful.  You will often first hear about a friendship developing and then you’ll hear phrases like “it just happened.”  Whether this is true or not, most people overwhelmingly make this claim.  And then they will say that once the unintentional cheating happened, they told themselves that it was a one time or short term thing.  They planned to stop it before any one was hurt.  Of course, sometimes it ends up lasting for longer than they originally anticipated.

Still, many people end up realizing that they have made a very huge mistake about which they feel an awful lot of guilt.  They often realize that they have taken a huge risk with the relationship that is most important to them.  This is why many of them confess or at least own up to what they’ve done once they have been caught. They suddenly realize that they don’t want to surrender their marriage and they are hoping that either their confession or their remorse is going to at least give them a chance to maintain or save their marriage.

Suspicions You Might Have About Their Claim That They Want To Stay In The Marriage: Many faithful spouses meet the cheating spouse’s claims with a good deal of suspicion.  People often tell me they fear that their spouse is just claiming that he wants to save the marriage because he knows that a divorce would end up costing him a lot of money or would risk him loosing some access to his children.

I also hear from a lot of doubtful but faithful spouses who suspect that their spouse just doesn’t have the courage or integrity to tell the truth about his feelings.  Or, they worry that he wants to keep the cheating or the affair hidden from his extended friends or family and hopes that by staying in the marriage, his secret won’t get out.  These are absolutely valid concerns.  Dealing with the cheating is very painful.  But dealing with the cheating while trying to save your marriage only to find out later it was all for nothing is nearly unbearable.

However, the problem often is that there is no way to know what is actually true until you see it through.  You can’t read your spouses thoughts.  You can’t possibly know exactly what they are feeling.  So the only way to truly know their real intentions is to wait it out and see if their actions confirm their words.  Because if he’s not being truthful about his commitment to the marriage, then that will become apparent soon enough.   It’s very unlikely that he can keep up the facade for long if his heart isn’t truly in it.

And, his is not the only opinion that matters.  You also will need to decide if you want to stay in the marriage.  The decisions about your marriage are not his alone to make.  You have a say.  And you have your own set of wishes and intentions.  Sometimes, his wanting to stay in the marriage is not going to be enough.  You have to want it too.  And you both have to be willing to do the work to repair the marriage and to restore the trust.   Both of these things truly are possible.  But in order for that to happen both people need to be absolutely sincere about their feelings and intentions.

If you had told me that I would ultimately save my marriage after my husband’s affair, I might have laughed at that notion at the time.  But that is exactly what ended up happening.  I had my doubts about my husband’s sincerity when he claimed he wanted to stay in the marriage, but his actions proved my doubts were unfounded.  And today, I’m glad I gave him the opportunity to prove to me that his claims were true.  If it helps, you can read more about my recovery process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/