Discussion – What Would Have Prevented the Affair?

relationship_strugglesThanks to everyone who joined in on the discussion from last week.  It was a great response and we appreciate it – and you guys – very much.

One of the comments was from an ex-CS who has contributed quite a bit on this site and has obviously made great strides since ending the affair. In that comment she threw out a potential topic for discussion:   

What advice would you give someone BEFORE an affair took place? Doug – what would have prevented your affair? What should you (or Linda) have been doing? I’m desperate to explore this for myself. Should I have told my husband I was falling for someone?

In our situation there was certainly plenty that we both could have done better during our marriage in the years leading up to the affair.  There were plenty of excuses for not spending more time and effort on our relationship.  The fact is we didn’t, and I let that disconnection and my selfishness become excuses to have an emotional affair. 

I think the key preventative measure for us would have been very simple – communication.    

All I had to do was talk to Linda about my unhappiness with our relationship and I’m sure we would have righted the ship – or at least put forth every possible effort to do so.

There were certainly other preventative measures that I personally should have been responsible for but I was too stupid to do so.  Things like boundaries, low self-esteem, flirting, etc. which you can read more about here:  http://www.emotionalaffair.org/real-reasons-the-emotional-affair-happened/

But every situation is not like ours, and these discussions are a good platform for you to talk about your situation.  So…

What would have prevented your or your spouse’s affair?

In hindsight, what do you feel that you or your spouse could have done differently to prevent it?

What are you doing now to prevent any future infidelity in your relationship?

As a supplement to the discussion, I found these tips from David J. Ley, Ph.D. on how a couple can prevent infidelity.  Feel free to discuss them as well.

  • Be clear about what faithfulness means. Many problems happen due to lack of clear communication about expectations and agreements.
  • Help your partner to want to be faithful, by having a healthy relationship. That doesn’t mean you should always keep them happy, but that you should do your part to communicate and deal with problems.
  • Pay attention to the things that are working. Often people in relationships only attend to the things that aren’t working, which enhances awareness of dissatisfaction. Instead, we do best by highlighting things we like, even more than the things we don’t. “That which we attend to, grows.”
  • Deal with your own fears and feelings over infidelity. What does it mean to you, and your beliefs about yourself and your relationship?
  • Finally, talk about it. Guess what, talking about it with your partner doesn’t make it happen. Instead, by talking openly and honestly about the issue of extramarital sex and desire, with respect and personal ownership of feelings, helps you and your partner make better decisions about your relationship, commitment, and in reaction to those “attractive alternatives.”

Thanks!

Linda & Doug

 

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41 Responses to Discussion – What Would Have Prevented the Affair?

  1. gizfield April 16, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    I think my biggest mistake was just actually thinking that since my husband presented himself as a “good person”, I honestly didnt think he would do some shit like this which is what opened the Door of Opportunity for him. He had waaay too much freedom, trust, and spare time. He basically just wanted his easy, free living lifestyle pre marriage and pre child to continue and I think making life easier for him by giving him freedom and trust it just encouraged him even more into thinking adultery was acceptable. And, the most important thing of course: I could have stayed a size six, or ten, or whatever size is the cut off for not cheating on your wife, lol.

  2. EyesOpened April 16, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    For me, this is such a difficult one to answer because I DID try to talk to my h, and address problems and he chose not to listen. He readily admits that .

    I should have:
    * understood that he was suffering from depression and not ‘just down’ all the time.
    * allowed him to get angry and upset rather than give in to him like a persistent toddler – because I ended up ‘owning ‘ his emotions so he didn’t have to own them himself .
    * talked and faced the scary consequences rather than run away
    * told him I could no longer live like we were and that things would have to change or I would leave
    * gone to counselling!!!!! A counsellor friend of ours says she and her husband see a counsellor once every six months just to check that any potentially damaging issues are dealt with regularly – and they seem to have a good marriage
    * been honest when I felt myself attracted to someone and either fessed up or removed myself from the situation
    * found this site about 15 years ago 🙂

    All that being said – my h acknowledges that without the sheer shock of the affair, and the realisation that he was actually about to lose ‘us’ – it was unlikely that he was ever going to address his issues – and he likes the person he is now, much more than the person he was (and so do I)!So that still leaves me wondering what I should have done.

    I guess regular counselling from early adulthood would be my odds on bet as to what would prevent most affairs – as you would be able to tackle difficult issues head on -as and when they arose and look out for issues that might affect your behaviour (like abandonment or low self esteem) .

  3. forcryin'outloud April 16, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    Without a doubt better communication. Also, he had too much freedom to do just about anything that suited him. I gave him that and fostered his demands for that freedom. The last would be flirting. Every flirt, in my presence, was a hit to my self esteem and made me feel he was always looking for a better option. But it also gave him the idea I didn’t care, because I never mentioned how bad it made me feel. I think the freedom also gave him the idea he didn’t have to be emotionally responsible to me. Accepting the flirting and giving him freedom made it easy for him to engage in destructive behavior. It gave him the opportunity and in his mind at the time motive.
    Communication however falls squarely on his shoulder. He fundamentally lacks the skills to discuss his emotions. The difficult part here is he has a limited desire to change this issue.
    We can talk about everything else important to our marriage, but when an intimate emotional issue arises he just shuts down. Even if it’s something negative about me. I’ve even pleaded when he is obviously irritated with me to tell me what I did…nothing, no response other than the occasionally head shaking.
    Shutting down the flirting and freedom was easy. Once we stared the demise of our marriage option squarely in the face these two issues were the first to be addressed and dealt with. In fact looking back it was amazing how simplistic it was to deal with them. So that was a quick resolve to help with prevention. Now we just have to deal with communicating which may take the rest of our marriage. 🙂 It amazes me how he keeps his intimate emotions sealed up like a nuclear reactor.

    • forcryin'outloud April 16, 2014 at 11:51 am #

      Again excuse the typos. In fact I may use that as a tag line in every post.

  4. EyesOpened April 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Doug – I’ve just clicked through to http://www.emotionalaffair.org/real-reasons-the-emotional-affair-happened/
    And had never seen that post before. It’s really useful for me to see some of your earlier posts..

    I wish there was a search facility where I could look up stuff by date or subject …

    Communication IS the key.

    Thank you so much for this site and your hard work as always. I’d love a way to make a one off donation without having to sign up or have any correspondence btw!! Please !

    • Doug April 16, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      Thanks EO. BTW…there is a search function. In the right hand sidebar under the blue box that Says, “Get Your Free Infidelity Toolbox” you will see “Search our Site” and under that is a box where you can type your search phrase. You cannot search by date, but you can search by keyword or phrase. If you want to find articles by date, go to the top navigation bar under the header and hover over where it says “Blog” and you will see “Archives”. On that page you will see our last 30 days worth of posts, categories and monthly archives that go back to December 2009.

      Thank you for your generous offer to donate. We had a donation button in the early days…Here you go! https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=9UAXKDMQFRK4E

    • theresa April 16, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

      Do certain types of an affairs have no preventative measures?
      Is it like blackjack? You could have played your cards the right way, done everything right, and still lose.

  5. EyesOpened April 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    Ok Doug – I’ve donated enough to keep you going for at least another 20 mins :-). But every little helps, right?! You deserve a $1m at least, but I couldn’t quite stretch to that….. Thanks again and keep the button there for peeps like me who are scared of commitment – lol!!!

    • Doug April 16, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

      EO, we appreciate your generosity. If you have a million to donate, I’ll come and pick it up! 😉

  6. EyesOpened April 16, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    Theresa – I certainly thought that at the beginning. It was a chance meeting and nothing could have prevented it. I feel very differently now.

    What I am about to say is very provocative – and I apologise in advance but…. In our MC, for the first few sessions, I just couldn’t move forward because of the immense amount of guilt I felt for the ‘effect I had caused ‘. I was riddled with guilt for the pain and consequences my actions had caused on his wife and family (strangely more so than my own) – On about session 4 or 5, our counsellor said I needed to let that go and move forward. She said that whatever the circumstances – my AP’s wife and my husband had somehow ‘allowed their marriages to get to a place where an affair could happen ‘ , and that I could not ‘own ‘ everyone’s mistakes . Just mine. It didn’t seem fair – but it helped me to make sense of it all .

    So I guess I’m saying that I don’t think affairs just happen. There is always an underlying reason/ problem in my opinion.

  7. gizfield April 16, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    Eyes, I’m going to have to disagree with your therapist, and heres why. Statistically, maybe 50%, but at least a very large percentage of cheaters admitted that they were not “unhappy” at all in their marriage.. They loved their wife, enjoyed their marriage, did not want out. Many of those who cheated were not unhappy til “after the fact” and used it as a justification for their behavior. They did it for a variety of reasons, just about all relating to a weakness within themself. This is obviously not something they will tell their affair partner. Would my husband have cheated if I were a beautiful, thin perfect housekeeper? Would I hsve cheated if my first husband were not an abusive alcoholic? Theres no way to know. Dont beat yourself up, but some residual guilt is good for keeping us out of trouble. I still feel bad for cheating over 20 years ago . It’s part of me, and I have to own it, no matter what the circumstances. It’s something you get used to.

  8. gizfield April 16, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    I apologize, I should hsve specified that the part I disagree with is that your affair partner and his wife “had allowed their marriage to get to a point where an affair could happen.” First off, as we’ve seen, it can happen in any marriage. Good, bad, or indifferent. Not all unhappy married cheat, and it sounds like the therapist is trying to shift at least some blame to the betrayed spouse.

  9. EyesOpened April 17, 2014 at 4:35 am #

    Gizfield – I certainly didn’t get the impression she was laying any blame for the affair on either of the BS’s. The blame for what I did is fairly and squarely on MY shoulders. Not even my AP can be blamed for the horrendous decisions and actions I took.

    The point is – as most people agree on here – I was no-one special . I could have been any passing ‘open to an affair’ woman. And he could have been any passing ‘open to an affair’ man.

    I cannot convey enough the tremendous amount of guilt I feel – and I know that I will never be open to betrayal again.

    During my sessions, I took the blame for EVERYTHING. The affair, not looking after my h, my AP’s redundancy (7 months after I left), the pain his w was going through, the pain his kids were going through, my kids having to experience all of our arguing and pain, the fact we had no money because I left my job – everything.

    What the counsellor was saying was that if the AP had not been open to an affair, I could have stood on a desk naked and he’d have walked on by. If he’d have done his job properly after I left – he’d still be there.

    She pointed out in front of my h that between us, we’d allowed our marriage to get to a place where an affair could happen – and that my AP and his W had done the same. Even if that means just being married to someone who is in a place where they are open to an affair. Right or wrong – that cannot all be my responsibility.

    She also pointed out that there may be a chance that my AP and his W may be deliriously happy now -and if they are, could I take responsibility for that too? Clearly I said ‘no’ – and she said the ONLY actions I can be responsible for are my own.

    Hopefully it makes better sense in context!

  10. gizfield April 17, 2014 at 7:46 am #

    Thanks, Eo, for the explanation. I totally agree with you that each affair partner should take 100% responsibility that what they did was 100% wrong no matter what the circumstances. But no person is immune to an affair whether they are happy or not. I mean, before his affair all those years in his marriage, Doug probably thought he was. I know I thought I was and you probably did too.

    My situation is different from yours in that my husband never knew, my AP’s girlfriend never knew, and I only told one friend later on. So I had no negative consequences. If I hadn’t felt bad about this, I would have been susceptible to doing it again. If I had thought to myself, well I wasn’t happy, or he wasn’t happy, or we were in love, or he is more responsible for this than me, and accepted less than 100% responsibility I might have done it again. Guilt doesn’t help, but responsibility does. I’m going to get religious here, but as humans we are all capable of sin, and if we think we aren’t that is when we are most capable of doing it. but no, I wasn’t trying to criticize you in ANY WAY, but I personally thought what your therapist said did shift some blame to the betrayed spouse, intentionally or not.

  11. forcryin'outloud April 17, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    I have to say I see both sides of the discussion here between EO and Giz. And like Giz I believe no marriage is affair proof 24/7/365. Circumstances set up infidelity and those can occur in any combination at any point. Throw enough alcohol or drugs in the mix and watch debauchery happen with the most moral of people. However, I see the therapist point of view in the sense that EO wasn’t the “wizard of oz” directing every aspect that fostered the environment for the affair. No offense to EO but she was initially giving herself too much power over the situation, aggrandizing her role. I do believe though, the therapist should have chosen a better worded statement to make her point .

  12. gizfield April 17, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    You know, I just remembered that my husband’s girlfriend was in therapy while she was dating my husband, as was her daughter. wonder if she told the therapist she was dating a married man. if so, was she told what Eo’s therapist told her. I can assure you this woman felt no guilt, or responsibility, or remorse . Only smug satisfaction that she was “better” than me and that I “deserved” to be cheated on.

    • exercisegrace April 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

      OMG yes. The whore was not only in therapy, but refused to tell my husband what medication she was on. She admitted to antidepressants and anti-anxiety, but wouldn’t tell him what else. I can only imagine! Affairs are what happen when sick, broken people collide. To this day she sees herself as blameless. That’s why she’s stalked and harassed ME. It’s all MY fault, LOL.

  13. exercisegrace April 17, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    It’s kind of a chicken and egg scenario for me. My husband didn’t cheat because he was unhappy in our marriage or dissatisfied with something about me. I believe like many cheaters, he truly wasn’t unhappy until someone came along and worked to convince him that he was. It is easy to plant seeds of discontent, then sit back and water and wait. But there was tremendous stress in our lives.

    His father died, then his business nearly went under due to the economy. There were real estate losses due to the same, financial pressures, a move and a new baby. Our therapist calls it the “perfect storm”. He kept his emotions tightly inside. He had an emotionally abusive childhood and just never learned strong coping or boundary setting skills.

    His “friend” and co-worker admitted that she took advantage of this time and pursued him aggressively. Also that it took “a long time” to wear him down. At first he thought she was just being a great friend. Listening, supporting, etc. While I was trying to get him to seek help for his depression, she was telling him NOT TO. She began a campaign to convince him that the kids and I were ungrateful, undeserving millstones around his neck. HE was such an amazing, wonderful, etc. guy for putting up with it all! (cue the screaming goats). He began to verbalize suicidal thoughts. I employed tough love. He HAD to seek help. HAD to eat, sleep, exercise, etc. Contrast that with the whore, who concentrated on telling him what he WANTED to hear, instead of what he needed to hear. She was telling him the kids and I were THE CAUSE of his depression. She told him that SHE could “fix him”. I am sure the rush of a new relationship, secret texts, teenaged-type behavior “felt” like he was less depressed. Until the reality of what he was actually doing set in.

    So to address the question directly. What would have prevented it? If he could have been honest about how seriously depressed he was. If he could have listened to me and sought help sooner. If his childhood hadn’t have been so screwed up and he had better tools to deal with our crap storm of events. If she hadn’t been so determined to pursue him. If he hadn’t have given in to the “feel good in the moment” of having his ego jacked.

    I have evolved my opinion and I do NOT take any responsibility for the affair. He would be the first to tell you that I was very supportive of him and his career. He has said I trusted him and believed in him to my own detriment. I begged for better communication every step of the way to disaster. I begged for counseling, for help. Thankfully he acknowledges all of that. What broke was not a marital issue, but an emotional one inside of him. With roots back to his childhood. I am amazed at how hard he is working to repair those old wounds. The outcome of that is now we are communicating better, because he NOW knows how to do so. It is a huge blessing, and is the biggest indicator to me that we can avoid disaster again in the future.

  14. gizfield April 17, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    I love this group, and one thing that really helps me is having to organize my thoughts and write them down. Especially when I have a different opinion than someone else. Which seems to be often. Lol. Today I’ve been thinking about Guilt versus Responsibility. I guess I thought they were kind of the same and they aren’t. Guilt is “I feel bad about somethingI did or that happened” Not really very productive, can even lead to more bad actions. Responsibility is “I did something wrong. I cant change it, but I can admit it, and not do it again”. Very productive, cause you take out it of the “feeling” arena and change it into action. For example, if my 10 year old does something wrong, she feels guilty. Cries, feels bad, etc. if we discuss it, and she understands what she did, and why, and admits it was wrong and her choice and doesn’t do it again that removes the guilt without removing her part in it. it’s like rational thought about the wrongdoing without the harmful emotions.

    • exercisegrace April 17, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

      I spent a great deal of time after d-day trying to figure out what I “did wrong”. How “I” could have prevented the affair. I also explored this in MC with my husband, and repeatedly I have been told the answer to both questions is, nothing. We are all responsible for meeting our own needs. If we feel they are not being met in a relationship, it is up to us to communicate that fact. If they still aren’t met, then it is decision time.

      This was actually very hard for me. In many ways, it seems that it would be easier to hear a list of things I could have done or not done. I know I did all that I could. He just wasn’t in touch enough to verbalize his emotions and needs to himself, let alone turn around and communicate them to me. I don’t believe (and neither does he) that his AP truly met his needs. She just provided an escape. An alternate reality, that in truth wasn’t real at all. If it was, it would have lasted and he would have left to pursue a successful relationship with her.

      Today, I have a better understanding of what we both need. More importantly he is getting the tools he needs in counseling to take care of his OWN emotional health and communicate how he is feeling. We both have a greater appreciation for how important it is to communicate regularly and in a healthy, positive manner. We have also learned to take our time and make sure we really hear each other, instead of “assuming” we are on the same page and have the same understanding of any given situation.

      But having said that, I believe it’s bunk to say one spouse “contributes” to making the other one (or the relationship) vulnerable to an affair. If you cheat, be a man or be a woman. Step up and take the blame 100%. No waffling. No saying……yes I did it, BUT…you contributed to the reasons WHY I did. Nope. The time for that discussion has long since passed.

      During his affair, I too had the chance to cheat. I ran from the situation. Now, I could EASILY be sitting here talking about all the reasons HIS actions contributed to me actually cheating. But I made a deliberate choice to stay true to MYSELF as well as my marriage vows. I certainly felt neglected at the time. I certainly doubted what was going on. But those would just be excuses. And there simply is none for crapping on your spouse and marriage.

  15. gizfield April 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    Oh, I forgot to add I think you can have guilt without feeling responsiblity, or feel responsible with out feeling guilty, or feel both at the same time. I think a lot of cheaters are stuck in the guilt phase and actually need to get into the responsibility phase. Just my thoughts of course and definitely not directed toward anyone here. Most likely my husband. Dont give a rat’s ass about his girlfriend. She can be stuck wherever she likes.

  16. EyesOpened April 17, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    I like that Gizfield. Turning the feeling into an action . I think that’s a good philosophy ! You’re right. What does feeling guilty actually achieve? I’ve done it my whole life and it’s a useless emotion. FCol is right – As IF I have all that power over everyone’s life!!! Great comment . Thank you!

    Ps : unless a ‘rats arse’ and your husbands ex gf getting stuck somewhere are close to one another and you are nearby – probably best to keep that to feelings as opposed to actions …..

  17. theresa April 17, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

    hope CS and BS respond.

    What do you “hear” when you hear the phrase “I wish you wouldn’t/didn’t feel that way”

    • exercisegrace April 17, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

      I have heard my husband say that with a note of desperation in his voice, and so I usually “hear” that to really mean…..I wish I had not done this to you, so you didn’t HAVE to feel that way.

  18. EyesOpened April 18, 2014 at 4:31 am #

    Theresa . Who is saying those words? The bs or the cs?

    If I was saying it to my h – I guess I’d be saying ‘I am sorry you feel that way. I am unable to change it for you. And I wish you weren’t feeling that’

    If he said it to me – I’d get defensive and think ‘ you want to change the way I feel and you can’t ‘!

    Now there’s honesty for you !!

    • theresa April 21, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

      This is what I’ve heard on more than one occasion when trying to get him to understand the effects of his actions/words. Early on I took it as apology. As time went on, I found myself repeating things, wondering why I had to keep repeating things. Then I read one of those wake up observations. This person “heard” I’m sorry you feel that way because I’m not going to stop doing it. I figured it depends on how often you hear it.

  19. EyesOpened April 18, 2014 at 4:48 am #

    EG – I want you to know I’m reading and understanding all your words. Strangely, there are a lot of parallels in our stories – but the puzzle pieces are mixed up.

    Like you, I DID try and talk to my h about my unhappiness and the issues creating it. He would not listen to me, and was not aware of HIS level of depression, controlling behaviour and childhood issues. He, like your h says that there was not a lot more I could have done to help ‘us’.

    However – I was not aware of the way my childhood issues had affected me so deeply, and how I was ‘fostering’ his behaviour towards me.

    My H and I agree, that it is highly likely that whatever long term partner we’d have ended up with, the mistakes we’ve made in our marriage would probably have occurred in any relationship we’d had. That’s BOTH of us, with our repeating patterns.

    I SOUGHT a controlling person because it was familiar (unconsciously ). He SOUGHT a people pleaser. The issues that I’ve had with him are issues he had with other partners before we met. My relationships were not long enough to discover it – but I always became disillusioned early on and left.

    So going back over all the posts – communication is the big key, but a lot of people are just not equipped to be able to do it, or allow their internal fears to stop them. Counselling can help, hence me saying counselling for everyone from early adulthood would teach us the skills, and I think MOST affairs would be avoided this way. Not a PRACTICAL solution – but theoretically in my opinion, it would work.

    • exercisegrace April 18, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

      EO, I agree. A lot of parallels. I too fostered a lot of my husband’s behavior. I allowed him to be selfish for our entire marriage (27 years now). Looking back, I felt that because we chose for me to give up my career and stay home once we had kids, I *should* carry the weight of the household. I asked him to do almost nothing other than yardwork and doing the bills. I took care of the house, kids, errands, school and sports events. I expected little in return. After all, he was bringing home the paycheck! Prior to the affair, when he became deeply depressed over losing his dad and issues with his business, I stepped up my game. I got up with the little ones at night, took them everywhere with me so he never had to watch them etc. I let him sleep in, or work late. Attend the kids’ events, or stay home and rest. Whatever he wanted he got. I created a very large, very selfish adult child. This in turn set the stage for making it easy to cheat. I trusted him completely, and to be fair he had always deserved that trust.

      Today we both see the biggest issue was him being emotionally stunted from his childhood. You can’t communicate your needs if you can’t even articulate them to yourself. My biggest issue was staying silent too long. Withdrawing, to a certain extent. As I watched him become more depressed, more distant, surly with me and the kids, I just kept trying harder. I begged, cried, pleaded. I cooked more, cleaned more, catered to him more. Three therapists (his, mine, ours) have all told me I did exactly what I should have done. I did my best to be a “good” wife. But I wonder what would have happened if I had said…. enough! Get this “friend” out of your life, or I am getting out of your life. I will never go through that again.

  20. gizfield April 18, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    I never realized it til recently, but I am and was , a bona fide “flight risk”. The guys I stayed with were usually the ones who pursued me hardest and were the most controlling. Pretty much everyone else I walked away from myself.

  21. tryinghard April 18, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    EO

    I think I may have told you this before, but I’m not sure. Forgive me if I’m repetitive..I’m old!

    I could have been you. Your story is mine. Matter of fact it should have been me having an affair instead of my H if frustration is a factor.

    Like you I communicated to my husband I was not happy in the marriage from the very beginning. When he wasn’t working late, he was golfing or fishing or whatever else. Four years into our marriage he worked 2 very full time jobs. But even before the 2nd job came along (the business we are in now) he wasn’t home and when he wasn’t working or golfing or going on guy trips, he pretty much did what he wanted to do, stop at the bar at night before coming home because EVERYONE and EVERYTHING else in the world took precedence over me and our marriage. I begged, and we fought A LOT. I did everything for him to see what he was doing to us. But it didn’t make a difference. So OK I adjusted my sails and figured out that what I was expecting and what I was going to get out of the marriage were 2 different things. We’d have an argument and he would do better for a while, but soon it was back to the same.

    Shortly after we married the two children came along and I knew I was stuck then. Now I HAD to make my marriage work for our family so I had to work with what I was given (I’m actually pretty good at that). I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t miserable. When my youngest was 2 I had had enough and the straw that broke the camel’s back was I had done EVERYTHING for that Thanksgiving and Christmas. Shopping, cooking, wrapping, decorating, family blah, blah, blah and he fell asleep on the sofa on Christmas Eve as I was putting together our son’s toys for Christmas morning. I was worn out, dead tired. I had entertained his family that night, because no way they would come over and celebrate with my family because they weren’t good enough. So, oh boy, I’m sure you can only imagine how my hair caught fire when he fell asleep on the sofa and left me to the rest when all he had to do that day was work 1/2 a day and oh yeah run out and buy MY Christmas present!

    That was it!! Christmas night I told him to leave and find someplace to live. I was done. I didn’t care if I lived in a trailer and worked at the local gas station to survive. I was out of there and away from that SOB. As a side note, little did I know, because I found this out on DDay 2, he was having an affair with a friend of mine during that time. It wouldn’t have made a difference had I found out, I didn’t care who he was screwing as long as it wasn’t me, I was over it and him. I was young and invincible and damn cute! Well every day, every night, he was calling, coming over, begging, begging my forgiveness and to please give him another chance for the sake of our children. I gave in. For many years I regretted doing that. I was NOT happy for probably the next 3 years of our marriage, but during that time I went to college and got my college degree. I was not about to be in the same situation without a college degree again because by then I decided that the trailer life wasn’t going to be for me.

    So I guess you could say I was planning ahead in case the marriage didn’t work out. Well I finished my degree and our marriage improved. He turned into a very attentive and loving husband and father. We were busy career wise, socially, children, and I decided this is what MY marriage was going be and I quit comparing it to everyone else’s. He became even more a workaholic and played even more golf, but I learned to deal with it. I was NOT unhappy and I sure didn’t think he was either. It worked. I found other things to fulfill myself. I was NOT about to become “that” nagging, demanding wife. He finally broke me. It worked. He had his role, I had mine. Didn’t everyone’s marriage look like that? Sure did to me.

    Fast forward 30 years. So once in a while I thought back on those difficult years and was amazed that we had come through them and were in a strong, loving, mature, relationship. Yeah sex wasn’t too often and it was good, not great but come onnnn we are in our 50’s please. And from what I had read was normal frequency for our age. Enough said on that. He never seemed unhappy about anything. Loved me being home taking care of things. Loved that I started my retail business. Was very supportive when I went to school. Now he still spent too much time working and golfing and yes I would get aggravated with him for taking me for granted but it wasn’t a deal breaker.

    Now during the affair the long hours at the office got worse, long hours at the golf course got worse. When he was home he would fall asleep in his chair every night. He was going back to his old ways and I just didn’t attribute it to him having an affair. It crossed my mind, but I eschewed it because well, he’d been there and done that and surely he wasn’t stupid enough to make the same mistake. Actually I thought he was mad at me for losing my investment in my business when it closed. I FELT SO GUILTY. So I gave him a wide berth. I felt guilty and ashamed of being so stupid in the mistakes I had made in my business and with my business partner.

    I was also bored silly and probably a little sad about losing my business but, as usual I busied myself with homemaking, hobbies etc. So during my lowest time when I had NO self esteem or self worth, and was very sad about my business closing where was he? Working later than ever, golfing more and longer hours, falling asleep once he got home. You name it, he was not there for me at all.

    Guess what though, his business was flourishing, everything was peachy keen for him. They had record sales the year I went under!!! He had me at home catering to his every need. Oh sure not pressure from me. What an idiot I was anyway I digress, And it was he who decided HE needed an affair. Life just wasn’t good enough for him, he needed something else.

    So now if ANYONE should have by all accounts jumped on some guy who even offered a kind word or look, it was ME! I had opportunity with flirty sales men, customers etc but I was committed to my marriage, as totally un-satisfying as it was, I was not ever temped to cheat as a means to feel better about myself. Wasn’t even tempted and it never entered my mind.

    So I guess my point being there is NO telling I suppose who will and who won’t have an affair no matter what the story. It really is a personality thing I guess. I always knew who I was and my worth to myself and my family. There was no one else in the world that could have helped my self esteem at that time except for the one person that really mattered, my husband and he didn’t do it. He did just the opposite.

    My H, as far as I’m concerned, had the world by the tail, he had NO reason that I can come up with to do what he did especially to the depth that he did it. It wasn’t a foolish, drunken, one night stand. It was a long term affair and lots of money down the drain given to her. I’m sure he regrets it now, hhhmm do you think he’s learned from this lesson?

    I really believe that is why the best answer I can come up with as to why he did it is, sadly because he could. I know there is NOTHING I could have done to prevent the affair. Of that I am sure 100% . He is 100% responsible for it. He owned up to it, but if he feels guilty too and that’s on him. Our MC said it was good for him to feel guilty, so go figure. What do they know anyway??

    Like EG says, it’s the chicken and the egg conumdrum. He says he was unhappy, but only during the affair. Before the affair, he was not unhappy in our marriage.

    People choose their own hell and like Sartre said (forgive me I was also a French major), Others are Hell!

    So maybe in some ways you and I are very much alike my friend.

    HAPPY EASTER ALL

  22. EyesOpened April 19, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    TH – my heart breaks for you . You have put so much love, effort and work into your marriage and husband – and he has sh *t on you from such a great height.

    It’s kind of you to say you could have been me – but I just know in my heart you wouldn’t have. When I first joined EAJ I thought you were all mistaken – I thought any one if you could have been me, given the right set of circumstances – but I know now you couldn’t – that’s my own very special bag of toxic fertilizer. YOU are a brilliant woman who can hold your head high with pride and honour.

    I will always carry the shame of being the other woman, and knowing the pain I caused a family – and I can never ever take that away. No, TH you and I could never be the same person. But i can cheer you on from here and make sure my kids are a TH. Not an EO.

    Hope your Easter is the awesome break you deserve x

    • Tryinghard April 20, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

      EO

      Oh lord please don’t wish that on your precious children! I’m no saint and they could have much better role models. You for one. You are setting a great and real life example of being human. We all make terrible choices but it’s those of us who take responsibility and make amends are the strong ones.

      You’re wrong, any one of us could have made the same choices as you, but we didn’t for many reasons. My husband screamed at me after DDay to go “date”. I just laughed and said “really you think the answer is bringing some poor unsuspecting soul into this mess?” That’s the main difference. It’s not that we don’t all need or want someone to make us feel good about ourselves but when you are in a mess or unhappy cheating with another man would be the last of my choices. I always just wanted my H to show me he loved me, make me feel special, listen to me and support me and was proud of me.

      I have no doubt had we divorced I would have found someone to date. I have a lot to offer in a relationship but no way in hell I would have gotten into another intimate relationship while still in the old one and broken hearted over it to boot.

      Listen EO you didn’t murder anyone!! You made a bad decision and a bad choice to cheat. I am sure you are a wonderful loving mother to your children and a great role model too.

  23. Strengthrequired April 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    TH, my h was a workaholic too. I often begged and pleaded for him to spend time with me and his children, as we didn’t see him. It had been like this for a long time. I too took it as normal, like we aren’t the only ones living like this. When he started his business, he kept saying that things would be different, he would be able to spend more time, never happened. Just got worse over time.
    I wanted to feel important to him, I wanted my children to feel important to him, instead we just took the back seat to everything else, and as it turned out, everyone else.
    It could have been me who had an affair, yet as you mentioned, I wanted that closeness, that feeling of being special to come from my h, not from someone else.
    Then once my h affair came out, I ended up being the one that never wanted his love, that I never gave him love, never appreciated him etc. funny that.
    To have my h show his ow, all the things I wanted him to do for me, for many many years, so easily, without even a hesitation on his part, seems to be what hurts more than anything. I wanted him to put me first, our children first for so long, yet for well over a year, he put her first, even his business and his friends were put behind her, yet were still placed in front of me and his children.
    So where was my ea? Where was that person that was to make me feel better and special? No where, because I never went out looking, and I couldn’t look, because I was still in such pain and heartache over my h. Yet honestly, how nice it would have felt just to have someone to just listen and make you feel better, wanted, just to escape that heartache.
    Yet someone had to be the adult, someone had to be there for our children, someone had to not be selfish.

  24. 2redhorses April 24, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Exercisegrace– your story mirrors mine. May I ask, where you both are today? Recovered? Still working on it?

    • Exercisegrace April 27, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

      We are doing much better. Most of the work now is my husbands to do. He had an abusive childhood that he never dealt with. This left him without good coping skills for the rough seasons of life, as well as a lack of strong boundaries for when determined whores come along. His choices have wrecked him and it’s sad to see that. So much hurt over a woman he now calls the worst mistake of his life, and that she was nobody special, had nothing special. Anyone could have filled her role. It was a perfect storm of events out of our control that made him vulnerable to a money grubbing whore.

  25. InTheFog April 25, 2014 at 11:58 pm #

    I did try to tell my OH that I was unhappy and felt alone but he didn’t take me seriously. I now know (since separated and married) that he was not emotionally available and his being so closed down meant he probably had no comprehension of what was happening. He wasn’t capable of considering my needs.
    He refused to marry me and I (wrongly) took that as a sign that he had relinquished his right to my faithfulness. I was already very close friends with my AP and was not looking for an affair- to be clear. But when circumstances got tricky I (wrongly) did not choose to restrain myself.
    What I should have done was leave. I was scared of my ex and felt I couldn’t but in the end I did. I broke things off with my AP at the same time. I knew it wasn’t a real relationship- it was built on the whole idea that you see so little if the person, only the best foot forward they present. I knew I wouldn’t be able to meet anyone suitable while I was still involved. And the guilt was getting overwhelming (as it should).
    What I did was wrong.
    In my marriage I know I could discuss things if I was ever having feelings towards someone else, as would he. It’s a policy of truth over being kind at times. How do I know I wouldn’t get to that point again? My husband is my best friend, confidante and my everything. He knows I look- he looks! But we don’t let anyone in.
    He knows about my EA/PA. He understands how it came about and that transparency is the key to not even getting on footfall on that path.
    Talking would have stopped it if my ex had been more affectionate/better with the children/less controlling, but he wasn’t capable. So I left. Since then he has proven how right I was. No child support, buying 2 children gifts but ignoring the little ones birthdays. I should not have cheated- I should have left but hind sight is a great thing. I’m still nervous of him but luckily for me he only sees the children a few times a year. I think he’s moved out of town.
    If you’re in danger of an EA/PA talk. Say you’re feeling like things are skipping away. Be clear. And be prepared to lose everything over it- because you might.
    All that glitters is not gold!

  26. InTheFog April 26, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    And just to say, I’m not stupid enough to say that either if us are immune to the temptation. Both he and I have been in the line of temptation and resisted.
    Our answer is to avoid circumstances that could prove tricky. He openly admits to attraction to other women, I knew this before we got together (he’s an old platonic friend). I know he isn’t superhuman but I also know that he values the honesty we have- without that trust would break and for us, this would be worthless. We’ve both had enough of mind games and are going with what our 20 year friendship has always been based on- the truth no matter. Yes, I know he fancies other women- he thinks about having sex with them, but he isn’t going to do it. And if he did we would it would be over. We have an agreed zero tolerance policy. So that would be his choice.
    My obligation is to be honest too, if he has upset me, I say. If I’m bothered by something I say. I don’t let things fester. Yes, this approach can cause disagreements but they get ironed out. It’s the only way for us.
    My own desire is tied into my SO. For a while it was my AP but it’s only ever one person. Yes, I’m attracted to other men but I don’t feel the desire to sleep with them. My desire is firmly rooted with my husband, it’s just the way I work (and one reason I ended things with my AP- how could I become attracted sexually to someone else with him still in my head?).

    • Exercisegrace April 27, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

      I would caution you to have a conversation with your husband and see if the phrases “he fancies other women and thinks about having sex with them” and……”he openly admits attraction to other women” means the same thing to you both.

      We acknowledge, and always have that as fully alive humans we will see attractive people. But fantasizing about them is (for us) out of bounds. Because that is exactly!! How affairs start. Actions follow thoughts. Seeing someone who is attractive is unavoidable. But I would place some strong boundaries between myself and a man I found attractive, whether this was a physical, intellectual, emotional, etc attraction.
      Actions ALWAYS follow feelings. Our imaginations can carry us to some dangerous places, and if the object of our fantasies is doing the same? You have a recipe for disaster.

      I doubt you would like to be on the receiving end of such a statement as ” I wouldn’t have cheated if she had been this or done that or hadn’t said such and such”. And if you ever are, just know only weak minded people blame their spouses for any part of the affair.

  27. Tryinghard April 26, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    In the Fog

    I’m happy to see you understand what you did wrong in your relationship and have taken responsibility for your own fears and misjudge nets.

    Was you AP married? If so have you taken responsibility for the havoc you wreaked by interfering in another woman’s marriage/relationship? I get the whole you didn’t owe her anything but in fact you did. We all owe everyone in society to control ourselves and treat others with common human decency. Yes he was the one responsible for keeping his vows to her but you played a big role in helping him not do that. That is not part of being a decent human.

    All affair people say they weren’t “looking” for an affair but that is such nonsense. People who speed or run red lights aren’t looking for a accident, they just want their way and then they crash into an innocent law abiding victim of their selfishness and nonsense.

    You saw the affair coming and you could have stopped it knowing it was not the right or decent thing to do. But you went ahead and did what suited you at the time. When you say you weren’t looking for an affair it’s saying you want to vindicate yourself of the responsibility of it.

    I’m sorry for sounding harsh. I’m sure you aren’t a bad person but if you are here on this site it’s hopefully to learn something to make yourself better. Taking responsibility for your part, and the whole part, is what will give you a valuable lesson for your own personal growth.

  28. Tryinghard April 29, 2014 at 7:38 am #

    Sarah P

    Just had to tell you. The beasts are back from Florida. We had to go over to their house last night and we took our grandson. It was terrible. I had a nightmare ridden sleep last night. The house smelled of urine and was a total disaster. I would not have gone had my H not wanted to take our 4year old grandson. It is dangerous over there and I would not allow him to take our grandson on his own. It is fitthy and crap all over. Oh God I just can’t do it anymore. Mother’s Day is coming up and my grandson will be with his mother out of town so I don’t have to be with them. I am already planning a giant headache so I don’t have to be in their company. She is old and sick. So is he and they are both meaner and crazier and more narcissistic than ever. I need to divorce them. I cannot physically or emotionally handle any kind of relationship with them. My H tries but I think it’s only because of the business partnership with them. I think he’s scared his father will disinherit him from his part of the business that he gets when he dyes.

    I want to support my H because I know it is difficult on him too but I just don’t think I have the fortitude to do it anymore. I have my shrink tomorrow and I guess I will have a lot to talk about.

    Ugh why is life so hard???? Lol this calls for more than a Chardonnay. I need vodka:)

  29. Mae June 17, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    I would have made sure that we ate dinner together at the table, not each of us going elsewhere sitting alone. I would have told him that six months without sex was unacceptable. I would have told him that even though he was depressed our marriage should come before work or helping others. I would have made sure we had fun together. Oh, and by the way, I am the one that erred.

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