I Cheated On My Husband To Get Back At Him For Cheating On Me And Now I’ve Created A Mess

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from spouses who admit that they cheated only to get back at the spouse who cheated on them first.  Many cheat thinking that their actions are going to show their spouse how it feels to be cheated on or make their spouse jealous enough to stop his own cheating long enough to save the marriage.  Whatever the reason, many people who engage in what I call “revenge cheating” never intend to enter into a long term relationship that means anything to them.  They just wanted to make a point, get a little revenge, and then move on.

But what can sometimes happen is that the revenge cheating can create its own set of unique problems and intensify the problems that were already present.  I recently heard from a wife who said, in part:  “after I found out that my husband cheated on me, I was furious but willing to work on saving our marriage as long as he proved to me that he was worth my efforts.  I expected him to fall over himself apologizing but he really didn’t.   Instead, he seemed unsure of which one of us he wanted and he took his sweet time about making a decision.  Meanwhile, a male friend at work was very supportive of me.  It was extremely easy to turn to this other guy when my husband was being such a jerk.  I didn’t hide my cheating from my husband.  I wanted him to know.  And his response was exactly what I wanted.  He was jealous. He wanted me to leave the other guy and come back to him.  But it wasn’t as easy as I thought.  I developed feelings for the other guy, who has always been there for me.  And, when my husband and I do try to work on our marriage, we are so angry at and so suspicious toward each other.  It’s just one huge mess.  I feel so torn and confused all of the time.  The irony is that now I sort of understand my husband’s thought process and the way that he was caught in the middle.  You never expect for real emotions to be involved in cheating or an affair, but I do have real feelings for both people.  Where do I go from here?  I still want to save my marriage.  But I’m worried that there’s just no where to go from here because of all of the anger and betrayal.”

Situations like this one are tough.  Because now you truly are dealing with three distinct relationships.  You have the marital relationship, the relationship between the husband and the other woman, and the relationship between the wife and the other man.  The first step would be for both husband and wife to be completely honest with themselves to try to determine which of these relationships were most important to them and which they were willing to sacrifice to save the other.

This is sometimes more difficult than was originally anticipated, especially since both parties were admitting that they had real feelings for other people.  But, saving your marriage is hard enough when both people are fully committed and invested.  If there are doubts and reservations about this, then it’s best to wait until both people are sure.  Spouses in this situation often ask me how they are supposed to make up their minds.  They say that when they are with their spouse, they realize that they want to be with their spouse and save their marriage.  But, when they are with the other person, then they change their mind and don’t want to give them up either.

In my opinion and experience, the most authentic way to go about this is to take some time on your own to sort it out.  Pause both relationships and spend some time by yourself exploring how you truly feel.  That way, you are not influenced by the person that you’re interacting with at the time.  This usually isn’t an immediate process.  Take your time to determine how you really feel.  If you go back to one relationship out of obligation, but you have doubts because your heart is with someone else, you’re pretty much ensuring that the relationship that you are trying to save will either fail or struggle greatly.  So, it’s important to be sure of what (and who) you truly want.

Once you have made this decision, then you have to completely remove the relationship that you did not choose.  It’s very unrealistic (and unfair) to think that you’re going to save a relationship that you are not 100 percent committed  to because you are still thinking about someone else.   Once you have made that decision, there should be no turning back and no living in both worlds.  If you choose your marriage, then you must do everything in your power to give your marriage the best chance of success.  This means letting go of the other person completely.  You should not call, text, see, or interact with them.  Since the wife worked with the other man, it was important that she either ask for a transfer or set some very clear boundaries if she was serious about saving her marriage.

Following through on your claims is extremely important because it is the only way for your spouse to eventually decide that they can trust you and believe that you are serious about remaining faithful.  If you can not follow through with what you say, then you are better off never saying anything or waiting until you are absolutely sure.

I have seen plenty of marriages that are saved after both spouses were cheating (and even after revenge cheating) but it certainly isn’t always easy.   Obviously, there are extra steps and considerations in the process because you are dealing with an additional relationship with it’s own set of issues, hurt feelings, and problems.  The key is to approach all of the issues in a very methodical way and to work very hard at creating a united front where both people are equally committed and willing to do whatever is necessary to recover.

The good news is that often once both of the “cheating” relationships are removed from the equation for a reasonable amount of time, usually both of the spouses can begin to see their own mistakes and mistaken beliefs pretty clearly.  In other words, they usually eventually come to realize that the other relationship wasn’t as special or as real as they originally thought, but that it felt like it at the time because of all their own issues and doubts.

I know that this might seem like a huge, tangled mess.  But healing is often eventually possible.  You will often need a lot of patience and a very methodical but open approach.  If you had told me a month after my husband’s cheating that we would one day be happily married again, I would have never believed it.  But that is precisely what happened.  If it helps, you can read more about how we saved our marriage after his cheating on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

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