How to Save Your Marriage

how to save your marriageDoug asked me to write an article on how I “won” him back after his emotional affair.  First of all I want the readers to know that the phrase “win back” does not sit well with me.

One reason being Doug is not my possession, he is not a thing and to say I won him back is inaccurate.  He is my partner and my husband and I do not own him.  We are a partnership and our marriage is a union.

Another reason is I feel that I didn’t win. This wasn’t a contest that I agreed to be a part of, and in all honesty at the time I felt like I lost more than I had won.  I lost the feelings of trust, security and idealization I had in our marriage. I lost because all the special times we had together; the conversations, the “I love yous,” the phone calls, etc. that we shared and meant so much to me really don’t have the same meaning knowing how easily he was able to share them with someone else.

However, I can say with time I am realizing there are ways that I have won, as our marriage is becoming the very thing I have been longing for.

I want you to know that when I started this journey I didn’t know that Doug was involved in an emotional affair, so everything I did was based on what Doug expressed to me.  Such things as him saying he wasn’t in love with me anymore, that we were living as roommates and that he was unhappy. Looking back, if I would have known that there was someone else in his life I believe I may have done some things differently.

So this is what I did to save my marriage:

First of all, I took a hard look at myself. What was my part in the deterioration of our marriage?  Was I happy with my life and myself? What did I need to change?  I learned that I too was unhappy with our marriage and my life.  I had lost my self-concept.  I had become a mother, teacher, wife and forgot who I was.


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I had lost a love of my life. I had let past disappointments and stress take over my happiness and I was bitter and resentful.  However, when I was faced with losing it all I realized how lucky I was.  It really didn’t take much for me to put all those negative feelings away and see my life in a whole new light.  By looking at my life positively and appreciating everything that I had gave me the strength and determination to do whatever I could to save my marriage.

I made changes. I read every book available on relationships, marriages, love etc.  I learned how to communicate, how to be intimate, how to make a man love you.  To be honest I was on knowledge overload. There was so much information out there that I really didn’t know what direction to take or what to do first.  So I believe I did it all. I was determined to be the perfect wife, to make Doug love me again.  Looking back it was a mistake and that I should have focused on me.  I should have done anything in my power to make me feel better about myself.

We made changes. Now knowing the situation, Doug was in no frame of mind to accept or comprehend trying to save our marriage. In some ways it was a waste of time.  However, there were some positives. I initiated that we spend more time together doing fun things.  We began to communicate and discuss our problems.  We became more physical.  There was a lot of apprehension to do these things on Doug’s part and progress was very slow and frustrating, but doing these things gave me some sense of control.

What I would have done differently?

I would have read more books, articles and websites about emotional and marital affairs.  Knowledge is power.  When you are the betrayed spouse in an affair you feel you have lost all power. Learning about affairs, what causes them, the dynamics, and if they last gave me power to fight for my marriage.

In the beginning I believed that Doug fell in love with Tanya, and being the romantic that I am, I believed nothing could stand in their way.  I also believed that if he loved her that much then they should be together. After reading hundreds of books and websites I realized that there is a lot more to an emotional affair than just love, and I needed to get control of myself and find a way to bring him back to me.  So basically, I stopped the questioning, the snooping, the following him around, and focused as much as possible on me.

I’m not really sure if what I did was anything so special, but more just common sense, effort, knowledge and determination! That’s how to save your marriage!

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26 Responses to How to Save Your Marriage

  1. Lesli Doares July 5, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Fantastic post, although I’m sure you’re going to take hits for it. I agree with your description about not being each others’ possessions so you couldn’t “win” him back. Taking ownership of your part in the relationship and taking him seriously about his not being happy or in love with you anymore took courage and self-honesty that many miss or aren’t willing to do. Learning the skills that keep positive feelings alive can be done and you and Doug have proved that. It’s a course more could take. It’s also better to do early before feelings that lead to an affair take root.

  2. Lori July 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    well said Linda. You are an inspiration to all of us!!

  3. mona lisa July 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Won him back? Isn’t that just the mentality of a man! If there is one event in life that has NO winners, it would be the fallout of an affair. It has been over a year since my H had his emotional affair, and I still feel like a hamster on a wheel. Going a mile a minute and getting no where fast. I need to take your advice and heal myself.

  4. Nony July 6, 2011 at 4:07 am #

    What happens when you don’t feel like trying anymore? I recently discovered I am pregnant with our second child. The discovery of the EA was months ago, and frankly, now I just feel trapped. While my husband wants us to forget the whole thing and move on and is thrilled we are having another baby, I just want to leave. I suddenly resent and hate him more and more every day. For several months after discovering his affair, I was forgiving and wanted to truly save what we had, but today, all I can think is that I want out. I don’t want to be with him, I don’t want to raise a family with him (too late) – all this because I simply don’t trust him! I don’t believe anything he says. After stopping contact with her, upon her return to work (she just had a baby – their EA happened during her pregnancy), they apparently completely avoid each other but I saw an email he sent to her saying that he hadn’t stopped thinking of her the entire time they had been apart, so much so that it was almost as if she was with him somehow. They do not appear to have been in contact since that email other than they ran into each other on the street at work (her group and his each on their way to lunch), so they chatted briefly and she told him that she is looking for another job. My pregnancy is causing me to have a lot of dreams every night, and every night I dream about looking for emails from her or to her, or doing horrible things to her physically, my dreams are nightmarish every night and always around this emotional affair situation.

    Doug, how long did it take before you understood how badly you hurt your wife? Did you feel justified in the affair because you were unhappy at home?

    I just don’t know if I can stay with him. This is the worst timing, but somehow being pregnant makes me want to leave more, not stay and works things out with a liar. Help!!!

  5. Lynne July 6, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    Any suggestions for me? And I would be interested in Doug’s response to this one, too!

    If you’ve already been in a situation with your H where there has been deceit and lying regarding an EA that occurred (that is now out in the open), and you then found out that had recently joined an adult dating site, should you tell them that you know about their profile on the sex site (it is currently active)?

    He doesn’t know that I know about it, so to “out” him means that he’ll find out that I was checking up on him. I keep asking myself why I should feel conflicted about bringing it out in the open (I feel bad about snooping), when he obviously didn’t feel conflicted in joining one.

    • theresa July 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

      He forfeited his right to privacy CONCERNING ANYTHING THAT PERTAINS TO YOU MARRIAGE. I have found that each time (I’m sorry and humiliated to say there has been more than one), that “uneasy” feeling started to creep in, he was on the prowl.
      I feel strongly that everyone has a right to privacy. I don’t open other people’s mail. Including my husband and children. I have been tempted. It was torture waiting for my kids to get home to open the “accepted to”, or “we’re sorry to say” responses from the admissions department of a school. No steam or bright lights.
      However, I had some concerns for one of my children at one point and I read his journal. Not the whole thing. I worked back through time until I found something to help me help him. And no further.
      An affair has a profound impact on many lives It is not isolated to you, him and the other women. The trauma of an affair will affect the children for the rest of their lives. So, yeah, this is how I justify breaking one of my own codes of ethics. I am trying to minimize the fallout. The information may exhonorate him or condemn him. At the very least it will give you more tools to determine your path. In addition, if he’s a jackass like mine, I’m protecting my health.
      It’s a private choice. And you will live with it for the rest of your life. Just make sure that your choices are something you can live with. Something that will not make you ashamed of yourself. Something that will not fracture your already compromised self esteem.
      Give yourself time. Lay it all out. TWICE, before you take that leap of faith. Faith in yourself

  6. Paula July 6, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    I love the last part about being a romantic and if they loved each other, then they should be together. I still wonder about this at times, I’ve said it to him, that maybe I got in the way, our OW being an ex-girlfriend from their early 20s, maybe they were supposed to be together and I just blocked out the view for 23 years! I know this isn’t true, but I just love him so much and wanted him to be happy, and it seemed like a possibility to me that this would be what would make him happy. In the end, I haven’t done the snooping, stalking stuff either, other than early days checking his phone a bit. I can’t live like that, no-one can long term, you have to let the leash off, and I know many here are still battling with spouses who have been unable to break the contact, but if and when they do, being constantly suspicious of their behaviour is more damaging to you than helpful. Be yourself, be everything YOU can be, and if that means a better relationship, great, if it means separation, damn, but at least you’ll be in a better place to cope and heal.

  7. Candace July 6, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    This is so interesting. Someone asked me if I was happy to win my husband back. I was so taken aback, I just responded by saying we were working on things. I agree, I did not win but lost so so so much. At no time have I thought of “winning” him back, it was his choice, not mine. I do remember shortly after finding out about the EA telling my H that I wanted him to show me why I should want him back. Our marriage is becoming more solid and I am learning how to deal more positively with the triggers.

  8. Infidelity Rage July 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    Our MC looked at me one session and said, “You won…” I looked at him like he had ten heads. Won what? I said…I won absolutely nothing here. Should we sit back and say YAY my husband didn’t leave me because he chose me over her or should we sit back and say, shame on you for not always choosing me over her – that would have been the ultimate win.

  9. Broken July 8, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Everything I read says to take a long look at yourself, to see what you have done to contribute to the affair. For me….I liked myself better BEFORE I knew about the affair. I was self confident, a very loving, trusting wife. I did everything for my husband and my family. Had a job I was good at. Then the affair…..now I am angry, bitter, cant trust anyone even myself, I failed at my job because I couldn’t think about anything else, I am resentful of my hubby sometimes, I question my looks…it goes on and on. So I wonder how do I get back the person I was before the affair? In reality it wasn’t my fault….it was his fault. His selfishness. I liked the person I use to be so how is it that now that I know about the affair and I am a pile of mush that I am somehow more attractive and “good enough” now? Does anyone else feel this way? Why do I have to be someone I dont like (a totally dysfunctional person) to get my hubby back. Doesn’t make sense.

    • Doug July 8, 2011 at 10:49 am #

      Broken, I want you to know that you are not alone, I feel the same way. I question everything about myself, I am learning to live with the person after the affair and it is difficult for me to become comfortable with this person. I did like myself so much more before the affair, so I try to ask myself what is was about myself that I loved. I have to constantly have a conversation in my head and try to talk myself out of the negative feelings. It is exhausting, I am not sure what to do about it but it is definitely my highest priority right now. I have to learn to love myself again and not feel so insecure about everything. Linda

    • Candace July 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      I went through the same feelings you are very shortly after finding out about my H’s EA. For me once it started affecting my job I snapped out of it & realized that to let my H have that much control over my life was not what I wanted. From then on I only let the positive exist and I never let him/anyone else see me down. Yes, at that time I liked the “before EA me” better, now I can say the “after EA me” is much stronger, confident and surer of life in general and I know that no other human will be allowed to control my life, only me.

      It’s been almost 3 months since D-Day, everyday something reminds me of the EA but I am able to deal with better each day. I have run into the OW many times & can tell she gets very flustered, nervous you name it around me. I really enjoy remaining calm, strong and confident to me this shows who the stronger person is and who was absolutely guilty and wrong in their actions.

      Hang in there, find something that will make you strong again! Remember it was not your fault!

    • Paula July 8, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

      Broken, I think we all feel that way, we were great people before the affair, and you’re right, it’s not fair, it’s through someone else’s actions, not our own, and we are the ones who suffer the most, with self-doubt and a little self-loathing, but mostly the loss of an anchor, the rug pulled out from under us, I know I’m still trying to find some steady ground to stand on! Doesn’t really seem quite right. Linda is right, it is a daily battle to prop ourselves up, I’m exhausted, too, but it is important, keep working at it, as they say, “because you’re worth it!” 🙂

  10. Jackie July 8, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    Linda,
    Love your topics and the way you share what you have learned from the EA. I agree with you about the focusing on yourself. Focusing on my H, just got him upset more, because he didn’t want the focus on him. He didn’t really seem to like himself much, and when I also focused on him, he felt like he was being judged, which made him more angry and defensive. The OW only made him feel good…I made him feel bad and guilty because I was feeling so hurt by what he was doing to us and our family.

    Broken,

    What you and Linda said made me suddenly see a different perspective. It seems like what we betrayed spouses are feeling and thinking are all the bad sides of ourselves. I too was happy before the EA became known. Ignorance is bliss sometimes, but it is also being in fantasy. Just like our spouses we now face the darker side of ourselves.

    What did Yoda say in “Star Wars”. “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to the dark side.”

    So we as betrayed spouses are now facing our dark side. Just like our wayward spouses we can choose to give up, escape the problems (dark sides) by having an affair or choosing fantasy. Sometimes it seems easier just to quit and give up. But then we give up the opportunity to learn very deep things about who we truly are.

    We are each faced with choices of who we want to become, someone filled with fear, anger, hate, bitterness….or we can choose love, understanding, kindness, and forgiveness. The choices we make today will determine what kind of person we will become in the future. Somehow we need to become friends with that dark side of us that is fearful and angry, understand how natural all those feelings are but not let it consume us. I think this is what is meant for us to continue to work on ourselves.

    After all, life is not necessarily about the successes you have, but the lessons you learn along the way and who you become in spite of hardships that come your way.

    Learning to love and trust again is hard after being betrayed by the person you loved and trusted the most. But our cheating spouses must also learn to love and trust and forgive themselves after they have committed the worst hurt possible to those that they once claimed to love. They clearly have a much tougher battle. Can they even trust themselves to do the right things any longer?

    • blueskyabove July 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

      Jackie,

      Excellent post! I personally believe that being a BS is most definitely an “opportunity to learn very deep things about who we truly are.” I read somewhere that the BS actually has the greatest opportunity for personal growth. And, yes, facing our dark side and deciding who we now choose to be in light of what has happened is a vital step in this journey we are all on. We get so caught up in the drama of our individual lives that we lose sight of the ‘big picture’. Maybe instead of asking why our spouses chose to have an EA we need to ask why we are in this physical body, what is the purpose of this experience?

      If there is one thing I would like to give to each BS it is the recognition of their personal power…even while in the midst of all of this turmoil. For some of us it takes a long time to overcome the self-doubt, to trust ourselves again, to believe we are worthy of the best that life has to offer. We berate ourselves internally and accept all or most of the blame…until we don’t anymore. Until we say, “Enough!”. Until we decide we will no longer allow another person to define us. Until we stop looking outside ourselves for answers and decide to stand up and tell others who we are.

      So, who do I now choose to be in light of what has happened?

      I choose to be a survivor. I am NOT a victim. Being a victim is a mindset. Being a victim takes away my personal power and does not serve me.

      I choose to be happy. I have learned that “happiness” is a state of being. I make the decision to be happy or not to be happy. If I allow another’s actions to decide my happiness then that takes away my personal power and does not serve me.

      I choose to look at this episode of my life as an opportunity to grow and evolve, to recognize and acknowledge that I have choices. I am not powerless. I don’t have to become a needy, helpless person just because another person chose to act in a certain way. Their actions, their decisions can only effect me if I let them effect me…and THAT does not serve me.

      Ultimately, it is my decision. and I take full and complete responsibility for what I decide to believe.

      Yes, learning to love and trust again is hard…until it isn’t anymore. It’s a choice, it’s a decision. A person can either continue to resist it or accept it and then see what happens.

      • D July 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

        Blue sky,
        Thank you for your inspirational post. I, too, am choosing to be the one responsible for my happiness. I am no longer a victim. I am no longer focusing my attention and thoughts on the past. I have grown tremendously as a mother, wife, teacher, and friend. He (husband) is also becoming aware of his feelings and emotions, thus making him a stronger husband and father. This bump in the road has been an eye-opener to us. From here on out, we intend to bypass the obstacles on the road of life using love, respect, honesty, open communication, and team work.

        Take care.

  11. suziesuffers July 9, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    Won him back!! That’s almost an insult. I’m sure just as all of us say things in innocence and then realize the avalanche of emotions with that one statement…..But that says that he was SO bonded with Tanya that you had to be “better” to win him away from Tanya…..That literally disgusts me. Tanya isn’t worth the time to wipe the dog poo off your feet Linda….let along be in “competition” to see if you could win him away from Tanya. Like I said, this may have just been a “error” in speaking on Doug’s part…..but Doug, I would make a quick apology of this statement…..Linda is correct, you weren’t the PRIZE that two women were competing against, as much as that must thrill your ego….at this point you didn’t deserve Linda and only misery should have visited your doorstep. If anything, the question would be …Doug, how did you ever get Linda to EVEN consider that you were the MAN she would want….. Of course, I have spoken from the hurt heart of a woman that struggled to “GET” her man back…..but after 2 1/2 years, I don’t know if I will ever truly trust or care about this man enough to put my guard down…and living like this for the rest of my life may not be worth the constant pain.

  12. theresa July 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    so, marriage is a contest and he was the prize?

  13. Empty and Numb July 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Theresa …… Hahahaha! Couldn’t have said it better!

  14. Empty and Numb July 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    I truly think …. Victims need to look at longterm cheaters …. As many have serious personality disorders … Such as; passive, passive aggressive …. Which rolls into narcism! Got to tale a look at it!!!!

  15. Roller coaster rider July 12, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    Winning and losing…the game of life, isn’t it grand? Well, I must agree with E & N here, that it is vital to come out of any denial and honestly evaluate whether this is a pattern of cheating because if so, we are only enabling that cheating behavior by accepting it at any level. Without consistent, committed, sacrificial and fundamental change there is no hope for the marriage. As one writer puts it, the marriage as it existed is actually over, it has been destroyed by the betrayal, so why not just go for it. There have to be new ground rules.

  16. Paula July 12, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    Hear, hear RCR, the marriage is over, and it is a bloody hard step to take to grieve for that, and make the decision to stay together and build a better one, SO difficult, and SO time consuming! Only possible if both parties are on the same page now

  17. Empty and Numb July 12, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    Amen!!!! Ya’ll!! Ya finally get me!!! Oxoxoxoxo! Hugs for your heartache an hugs for your hard work!!!! Us victims deserve the best and an egalitarian relationship!! Keep rockin! And don’t settle for craptastic people! Get on that train to healing yourself and they either get on that train to restitution and healing you or ya leave em dusted! They will go on to repeat! And another dummy will come along to be their next victim! And you …. Once healed … Will find true love!!

  18. Ann July 30, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    Thank you so much for this article, and the website. It is very painful when your husband has an emotional affair, andi am in the thick of that right now. I keep coming back to your website and you are so right to say that we must focus on ourselves. I am taking your advice!

  19. Sonya October 31, 2011 at 3:20 am #

    I thought I was alone going thru this EA. Im so hurt and each day it gets harder for me. I get comfort knowing there is possible way to get thru this ordeal. I wish we had our life back when we were happy. I told him the signs of ea and he said thats not true they are best friends only. Yet all the definitions mentioned are happening between them.

  20. sharkgirl January 24, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    now we are dating saving our marriage and it’s great I feel to some degree I’m loosing me. My routines go out the window when he comes down then my housework gets on top of me, i had plans things I wanted to do some he hasnt but I don’t want to use my holidays and then have none for him or create memories he isn’t part of it or where his absence will be noticed. I don’t know how I get round that one because it’s life but today I do my ironing and clean my kitchen, tomorrow it’s my bathrooms,

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