Recovery from an Emotional Affair

If your marriage or relationship has fallen victim to an emotional affair, the first step in recovery from an emotional affair is honesty, according to psychologist Barry McCarthy. “It is secrecy that enables affairs to thrive. The cover-up, for most people, is worse than the actual infidelity,” he says. “So it’s only by putting everything on the table that you’ll be able to move on.”

We can tell you from experience that this is the case.  The lies and half-truths that I continually told to hide or downplay my emotional affair drove Linda to the brink.  Eventually, it made no sense for me to continue to do so.  More than a year later, I still answer questions that Linda has on a regular basis.  Though these question and answer sessions can be rather unpleasant, they always result in us feeling better about our relationship and each other.

Author Peggy Vaughan states that “When a person discovers their mate is having an affair, their world suddenly turns upside down. In order to recover any sense of balance, they need to get more information and understanding of the situation. Without answers to their questions, they convince themselves that the answers must all be bad; otherwise why wouldn’t  they be told what they want to know. They feel they’re being treated like a child, and they resent it.”

In other words, the involved partner must be honest about all aspects of the affair.  Moving on too fast usually backfires, leaving the injured party reeling and the problem unresolved. “Many people believe that too much discussion just reopens the wound; but, in fact, the wound needs to be exposed to the light of day so that it can heal,”  says Vaughan.  “The involved partner must answer questions and soothe the injured partner for as long as that person needs.”

Psychologist Janis Abrahms Spring says the ultimate goal to being an open book is restoring trust to the relationship.  She suggests couples make a list of the trust-enhancing behaviors that will help them heal. Both partners typically need compassion for their feelings, she says, but “the hurt partner shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden of recovery and may require some sacrificial gifts to redress the injury caused.”

Such sacrificial gifts could range from a request that the unfaithful partner change jobs to avoid contact with the “special friend” to access to that partner’s e-mail account and/or cell phone.

An emotional affair can really rattle a marriage, but statistically they rarely result in divorce.  In fact, in many cases, through hard work the couple can create an even stronger marriage than they had previously.  

 

Additional Resources

Affair Recovery Group – Learn real life ways on how to recover from an affair based on our own experiences as well as direction from therapist, Jeff Murrah.

How to Survive Infidelity – Article by Dr. Willard Harley

 

 

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33 Responses to Recovery from an Emotional Affair

  1. Emo March 4, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

    Nice =] I really enjoy your posts, especially this one)

  2. nick December 19, 2010 at 1:40 am #

    How would you deal with the spouse who refuses to give up the person she had the emotional affair with, because he is a “true friend”? She had an emotional affair about a year ago with her first bf from over 30yrs ago. That one finally ended with me giving her the choice of choosing one of us. Now she says she wont give up another friend. She accuses me of preventing her of having friends, which is not the case. I just feel that 30-40 text messages a day, and texts to only this friend while we were on vacation saying “I miss you and wish you were here” are not the way we act with regular friends. Plus I never end phone calls or texts with “I love you” to any of my friends, male or female. Is my marriage beyond saving?

    • michael December 19, 2010 at 10:15 am #

      Nick,
      Simple answer, No its not beyond saving.
      Compounding answer, It depends on what you see as over.

      I am a year out of discovery of my wife’s affair with an ex-BOYfriend. I know how you feel and I know what she is going through. Time is on your side. Your not alone. And I will attempt to answer any questions you have.
      I made mistakes in my dealing with her affair. I made risky decisions on what to do. Some paid of and some may have made things worse.
      Visit my blog, ask me questions here, talk to people who can objectily look at what you are feeling and what you think you should do. There are many poeple who may tell you what you want to hear, but you need people to tell you what you need to hear.
      Best of luck to you and your family.

  3. Laura April 11, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    I need some advice. My husband and I were married about a year ago, and prior to the marriage he had a very good female friend. They would text, talk and even do things that I would have considered reserved for a “couple” like attending work Christmas parties and spending time decorating his new house.

    I tried to become friends with this person, feeling that if she was that important to him, I wanted her to feel welcomed by me. I was often met with disregard. I had even asked her to be a part of the wedding. She caused many problems with the other girls in the wedding and myself by being completly passive, ignoring phone calls, emails, ect and only responding to my husband. When I confronted her about her behavior and that I did not understand why she was treating me so poorly, she said she was not going to be part of the wedding at all and did not even attend.

    Because this made no sense to me, I kept asking my then fiance to explain thier relatonship. I also found it odd, that although I knew they were in constant contact, he woudl never talk to her in front of me on the phone. He would say that they barely talked and I had nothing to worry about.

    After we got married, and we joined our cell phone accounts, I looked through the records and realized he was talking and texting her on the way to work, during his lunch, on the way home, when he was on business trips and even when I was away on my own business trips. He also, just this past Christmas gave her an expensive gift to a high end Spa. (While I got a printer). When I asked him about this, he stated it was a comp. from his work, because she is his vendor- although no other vendors recieved gifts from him. And he charged it to his credit card.

    I confronted him on all these issues. I felt like he had hidden from me thier relationship and during a time when we were supposed to build a foundation, he was putting another woman before me.

    He says he has not spoken with her since our wedding, but the gift he gave her says otherwise.

    I am confused and hurt. When we try to discuss this he admits he had an emotional affair with her but does not want to deal with it or talk about it. He told me I needed to get over it or it would destry our marriage.

    I honestly don’t know what to do.

    • Doug April 12, 2011 at 8:57 am #

      Hi Laura, First off, I’m sorry that you are going through this. Secondly, since your husband has admitted that it was an emotional affair, he needs to realize the profound affect that it has had on you and your relationship. He needs to understand that you are in pain and that in order for you to heal from that pain, you need to discuss it and he needs to “deal” with it. He cannot just sweep it under the rug. In a calm and non-judgmental way, you need to let him know that this is the case and that if you don’t talk about it or deal with it, then it could destroy your marriage.

  4. Cindy May 4, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    My boyfriend and I have been together for 8 years. Last August, I discovered that he had been having an EA with a friend and co-worker of mine. We all work for the same company. So 9 months ago, he was taking the dog for a walk and I walked by the nightstand where his phone was laying and picked it up. There were emails from a secret account he had created. I felt sick and numb. This was someone I never thought would do this to me. I was suspicious of their friendship for a while prior to that, but every time I asked him about it, he said there was nothing but friendship between them. I have been through some nasty stuff in relationships in my life (physical and emotional abuse) but this was the worst of all of them combined. I never saw this coming and it is destoying me. I trusted him and thought he was different than the other men I had dated. I let the wall down to my heart and let him in. It’s not that we didn’t have some issues before the time I found the emails but this was devestating. The emails were contained things like “I like your hair pulled up like that honey” or “after all this time of flirting, I don’t know what would happen if we ever got alone”. You know the sick part of all this is that I’ve almost memorized the emails word for word (I sent them to my email when I found them). That is self punishment but I found myself drawn to reading them over and over. I can’t even begin to express the hurt and betrayal (from him and my so-called friend) I’ve felt since it happened. He seemed really sorry for hurting me and left his phone out (before it was stuck up his butt 24×7), I had his email passwords and he deleted the secret one in my presence. He also (at my request) went over and talked to my grown children about what had happened, accepting blame. Fast forward to the present, he is now ready to end our relationship. Apaprently my time limit of grieving over the EA has expired. I have been angry and have let him know it. I want him to hurt like he hurt me. I made nasty remarks about the EA every chance I got – not letting it go and not forgiving him. I know that I should have gotten help at the time but I thought I could deal with it. By the way, the girl he had the EA with – is MARRIED! The night I found the email, I called her and let her have it and then called her husband. She kept saying it was all a joke, which really added fuel to the fire. So today, I went to see a counselor to find out how to deal with the jealousy and anger I feel. This website helps and reading the differnt blogs make me realize just how familiar the mechanics of an EA are. Now he wants out and I am left trying to make sense of why I feel it’s my fault. He says he can’t handle things the way they are anymore and that I will never be able to forgive him and let this go. I am trying, truly I am. . . and I do want this relationship to work. But he says he can’t believe me and feels we would be better apart from each other. He also says he isn’t 100% sure he wants out, but he has to know that things will change. How can I guarantee that? I am going to counseling to try and get rid of the anger and hurt, I’ve promised to never bring it up again and promised to start trusting again and not being so obsessive about what he is doing all the time. I would be so grateful for some advice and assistance on what to do and how to let this go? Whether we stayt to gether or not, I have to release the anger. HELP!

    • martha nellson August 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

      Why do you want this relationship to work? Did you read your post? He is not 100% sure he wants out? How much sure you would want him to be? 99? I am so sorry, bad things happen to good people. Help him make this decision by changing your cell phone number, packing his belongings and visit your friend for a week without telling anything to anyone involved. Yourself esteem might need treatment.

  5. Jen August 3, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    I had an emotional affair 2 years ago. I came clean and my hubby & I fought for about month about it and then swept it under the rug. Recently we’ve both been really condescening, sarcastic, mean to each other and we both sat down and made a list of what was bothering each of us. The entire Emotional Affair thing from 2 years ago apparently has not worked itself out — that has been my hubby’s problem. ?? We’ve been married for 8 years and I’m sure I emotionally divorced him the 2nd year of our marriage because I felt like I wasn’t appreciated and he wanted to be with his family more than with me…still feel that way. I’m still working through suppressing memories of the EA and try not to think about what a B**** I was in doing this to my hubby…. My hubby says I need to regain his trust from this EA that happened 2 years ago. ?? After I told my hubby, we cancelled texting, I quit that job where it happened, I quit going out of the house on dates etc. for several reasons…..
    1. No emotional connection in current marriage
    2. Do not want to take a chance of seeing HIM (EA)
    3. I feel like a piece of crap for being “one of those people” — I’ve had severe acne and have gained 25 lbs since the EA has happened and very low self worth.
    4. I don’t have friends….I don’t talk to anyone except when I absolutely have to — When we were 1st married, I would always make sexual jokes when we were out with friends etc. My hubby told me he hated that and I shouldn’t be doing that as a married woman. However, that is the only way I know how to relate to the opposite sex…. So I’ve just shutdown and no longer have friends of either sex, no longer do anything with anyone

    How do I regain my hubby’s trust?? I don’t DO ANYTHING….no facebook, no myspace, no texting, no phone calls, no friends, rarely leave the house…etc.

    I don’t understand how the EA can be a problem 2 years later.

    Any advice would be so helpful!!! — from ANYONE!!!

    • Doug August 4, 2011 at 8:53 am #

      Jen, Thanks for sharing. It seems that you and your husband both have many unresolved issues and pent up resentment as a result of your EA. It was good that you sat down and made a list of what was bothering you, but have either of you actually been working on the items that were on the list – together? As you mentioned, trust seems to be the biggest issue, and the lack of trust that your husband has in you has caused you to basically shut yourself down in both socially and emotionally. I would suggest that you both try to get into marriage counseling and in the meantime, you might want to read the various posts that we have written on trust (do a search for “rebuilding trust” in the upper right corner of this blog) and you might want to consider checking out our book that we wrote on how we were able to rebuild the trust in our marriage. You can get more info on it by clicking here. Best of luck to you!

  6. Healing Mark August 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    Jen, sorry for such a late reply to your post. Geez, you seem to have done more than enough to keep your husband from wondering if you are cheating on him again, but just stopping what you did while you were having the EA would not, at least for me, cause me to actually trust you any more than I did upon learning of your EA. What my wife has done more than anything else to regain my trust is, most importantly, 3-fold. First, she has demonstrated that she understands what actions she did with her EA partner that were unacceptable (a part of her “apologies” for the EA), and has reached agreements with me regarding what acceptable boundaries are for each of us going forward with respect to friendships with persons of the opposite sex. Second, she has very reluctantly agreed to complete transparency in terms of texts, phone calls, emails and in-person interactions. But third and most importantly, she has shown that she can interact with persons of the opposite sex in ways that are within our agreed upon boundaries. Oh, and she has also on a few occasions (I don’t recommend this, of course) confessed to what she considered to be little “white lies” that she made before I discovered them, in each case apologizing profusely, as you might imagine, but also explaining to me what was going through her mind when she did it and how she knew it was wrong at the time but in almost every case how she felt it better to lie than to tell the truth and risk hurting me.

    Counselling has been a huge help for my wife and I, although we stopped as soon as we felt comfortable going forward without it, and only once have we had to go back for a couple of sessions to sort out issues that arose once I discovered my wife’s EA (we started and completed initial counselling at the time my wife ended the EA and, although I love our counsellor, I have always been puzzled by the fact that my wife confessed the EA to the counsellor but refused to follow the counsellor’s advice to disclose the EA at a time shortly after we stopped seeing the counsellor). I also stongly encourage you and your husband to see the counsellor you are working with together on a one-on-one basis in between joint sessions as my wife and I did. As noted above, people don’t always tell counsellors everthing when their spouse is in the same room, so individual sessions give a person a freer forum to act in and the counsellor should be able to use insight gained from the one-on-one sessions to better advise the parties during joint sessions.

    Finally, and I hate to admit it, but as the BS, I took many opportunities to use my wife’s EA against her when we had disagreements/fights shortly after I learned of the EA. There is I difference, I believe, in letting your spouse know how much you have been hurt by the EA, and how various “triggers” are making it hard for you to get over the EA (do we every really “get over” an affair?) or more precisely/importantly for you to accept your spouse for who they are and move forward in as happy of a marriage as you can make it, as opposed to using the fact that your spouse had an EA to make your spouse out to be the “bad guy” for whatever reason at the time. The latter is very unproductive. To move on, my wife and I agree to a “wash” in which we acknowledged that her EA was wrong but agreed that I would not hold against her the fact that she had had an EA. Similarly, we acknowledged several things that I was or was not doing within our marriage before and during the EA that were harmful to my relationship with my wife, and agreed that my wife would not hold that against me. However, the “wash” in no way excused such behavious from occurring again in the future. So, I can no longer say that the EA is a problem as it appears your husband might be doing. And my wife is so relieved at this as she felt at times like she could never overcome having had an EA, so she thought why stay in a relationship that had such an insurrmountable hurdle (so she thought at the time) which made it difficult for us to work on real issues we had at the time.

    I wish all the best for you.

    Healing Mark

  7. Broken November 21, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    It has been 15 months since dday and lately I have been feeling a PROFOUND sadness. It wont go away. I look at my spouse and I feel sad. I was doing so good and back to as normal as possible until she called and I heard her voice. I also came to find out that she had called a few months earlier allthough there is no record of that call (and I dont know why I wish there was). This has set me back almost like it was the beginning. AM I normal? What is wrong with me?

  8. Jaimie December 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    I found out yesterday, my fiance’ has been having an emotional affair with his ex girlfriend who know lives in Georgia. A month ago we got into a very big fight because he was emailing another woman about our problems. This really made me mad because he didn’t confide in me, instead he went to another woman. I admit I over reacted and basically threw his shit out on the lawn. I didn’t find this out till yesterday but he had texted his ex girlfriend the night of our fight telling her about what happened and that he missed her. They have been texting back and forth for a month and even sent pictures to each other. During this month he proposed to me and come to find out he had been texting her everyday since our proposal. I found this all out because I had sent him an email. We both have each others passwords so I was curious if he had read my email. Some part of me decided to check his sent messages and that is when I found he had sent himself a picture of her to save in his email. I brought this up to him and he denied it. The next day he came out with all of his lies about her and admitted to texting her for the past month.

    We had a ‘come to Jesus’ talk last night and laid all the cards on the table. We agreed to seek professional help for his lying and infidelity and I’d seek help for any insecurities and jealousy I may have inflicted on our relationship. He gave me access to our personal phone account where I found out how often they had spoken and so forth. He told me he was blocking her number and would never speak to her again. We both want to move forward from this EA but it’s so hard. I feel like a door mat. Wondering what I did for him to do this to us and our family. It’s good we found out before the wedding, which by the way we did call off the engagement until we got past all of this. But I’m so hurt and devastated. I have an appointment with a counselor this afternoon and I hope to begin the ‘starting over’ process. But how? How do I forgive. How do I not think of her? How do I begin to feel better? This is one of the worst pains imaginable…

    • Anita December 6, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

      Jaimie,
      You are very wise to put your wedding plans on hold, this may save you from more heartache down the road. Go slow, time will tell if he is really the one for you. Your very lucky to have found this out, before getting married. I know your hurting right now, but its better to know now, instead of later. When you do decide to get married, make sure it is with a man who
      remains faithful and true to you. Please do not go into a marriage expecting to change that person. Even though
      this is a hard time, please choose your mate wisely, it could save you from years of heartache. To be very honest with you
      I believe you can do better than settle for a man who has already decieved you with another woman. You are worth it!

  9. Anita December 7, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    Jaimie,
    Please try to press past your pain, and see the gift that was given to you, of learning who he really was before you got married. Now you can exercise your knowledge and make choice of wisdom, you already know that he is capable of
    putting another woman before you. You need to be strong
    and understand that you are worth more than this. Its your gain to leave him and trust God to bring you a man who will
    treat you with respect. There are better choices out there for
    you, don’t settle for this one, he still needs to develop and grow
    he’s not mature enough to be in a marriage. Do yourself a favor
    and start over fresh with someone else. I know this is hard
    but it could save you from more pain later.

  10. Calis February 13, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Hi Doug good post, I am the CS and i believe my wife and I are making great strides in our recovery. I was forth coming yesterday with some details and it just backfired on me. My wife says that she liked my honestly and working hard to repair our marriage. She just did not like this new details i gave her i thought i was being forth coming with this and it seems like i just screwed up. Is this a part of what should happen. I offered this info on my own, and now I just feel like an ass by hurting her feelings. Can you give me some advice. Thanks Doug and Linda

    • Doug February 13, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Hey Calis, Even though she may not have liked the details, I think the fact that you were indeed forthcoming and honest will pay dividends in the long run. You have just put a new deposit into your trust bank. That is just my opinion. Perhaps some of the betrayed readers might have a different one. Best of luck.

      • blueskyabove February 13, 2012 at 11:32 am #

        I agree with you Doug. I would have given anything if my H had taken the initiative and offered me something without my having to beg for it. I felt as if I were pulling teeth to get anything from him. It was frustrating.

        Calis, give it a few days and see how she then feels about the information. Maybe she just needs to process it in her own way and time. Good luck.

    • Notoverit February 13, 2012 at 11:30 am #

      The BIGGEST mistake I made as a BS was to want to know the truth and, as Jack Nicholson said, not being able to handle the truth. I did appreciate my H’s openness on a rational level but on an emotional level it hurt. Who wants to hear that your spouse loved someone else, chose someone else (if only for a time), wanted more fun etc.? Be proud of yourself for having the gumption to tell the truth and to share it with your W. Yes, it hurt her, but you did the right thing. There can be no withholding – all must be up front. Understand that she is hurting and tell her that you are there for her through the hurt. All you were doing was answering her questions and she will eventually realize that. Tell her that you are not doing this to hurt but to help in her healing (I know, she’ll probably go to the line that all of us have – if you hadn’t done this then I wouldn’t hurt…). Just being there and being honest is a great step for you. Be proud of yourself!

    • Lynne February 13, 2012 at 11:49 am #

      Calis-

      I agree with all of the comments above. You are absolutely doing the right thing by being forthcoming (and voluntarily so). As has been said above, this is a PROCESS for all involved–your W needs time to work through this new information, and likely this new information really hurt, but it also confirmed for her that you haven’t been truly honest from the beginning.

      It’s extremely difficult (huge understatement) for us BS’s when new pieces of detail drip out, as we have usually asked for the truth of the EA from the beginning of discovery. Just when we think we have it all and something new leaks out, it reminds us that our spouse has still been lying/deceiving. This is a setback in our ability to start rebuilding trust–and it makes us wonder what else we still don’t know, when will the other show drop, etc.

      If there is anything at all that you are still withholding from her, please tell her, and then tell her that is EVERYTHING! She might not like what she hears (and that’s fair), but she does need to know that every last piece is out on the table–then, and only then, can you both truly start working toward healing.

      All the best to both of you.

  11. laura February 27, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    hey i been with my boyfriend of 4 years and i first discovered he was chatting with this girl online that lived in California. i discovered he chatted text-ed and email her frequently,l about him loving her, wishing they could live together, and having sex. when i first discovered this i was devastated but we ended up staying together and he promised me he will stop talking to her, even those this happen after a week of me begging him to stop communicating with her. now i discovered he came in contact with her again about a month ago. again saying things like i love you, i wish i could have children with you, cyber sex, and telling her how beautiful she is (which he stooped telling me). now he wont realized how he hurt me and defends her saying they are just friend, that she listens to him, etc, and that it is not cheating since there was no sex involved. and he still talks with her, even though he knows how much it hurts me. i decided to stop the relationship but i still need help in coping with what happen

  12. Phil March 1, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Rather abruptly, my wife stumbled into an EA with a guy who lost his wife to cancer two years prior. We had just met him so his story was heart-wrenching and was the emotional hook which snagged my wife. The EA lasted four months before I discovered it. She never denied it but uncovering the whole truth has been a rough journey. I don’t believe she’s ever intentionally lied to me but I think she’s been slow to reveal stuff in fear that I would be hurt. Much of their exchange was via Facebook. I learned early on that she had been deleting her messages to cover her tracks but I recently learned that before deleting the messages, she would cut/paste the exchanges to a word document (and add her own diary-like entries as well) which she has saved. I want to know the whole truth because I have to believe the truth can’t be worse than my imagination. So, I want to read her quasi-diary and the Facebook exchanges but she’s against it. We both want to save our marriage of 21yrs and she hasn’t seen the guy since my discovery of the EA seven months ago, but I still feel like until I know the whole truth, restoring trust is near impossible. Should I respect her privacy or push for full disclosure? Help!

  13. Let us go and make our visit. March 2, 2012 at 5:55 am #

    “An emotional affair can really rattle a marriage, but statistically they rarely result in divorce.”

    Is this really true? I have a hard time believing sometimes that my wife and I will recover from this. Any references or citations would be extremely comforting.

  14. chiffchaff March 2, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    LUGAMOV – will it make a difference to have actual citations? even if the statistics are good it will not make any difference to your own situation in reality. My H gets very down when he reads how it will be almost impossible for us to recover from his PA + EA, which I think he then uses as a reason to put no effort in, i.e. it doesn’t matter what he does, the stats are poor so it will all be pointless.

    • Let us go and make our visit. March 2, 2012 at 8:37 am #

      Are the stats really poor? Multiple times on this site and others the experts are saying that the odds are good. That gives me hope.

      The trouble is I don’t know anyone who has recovered from an EA. I often feel the situation is pointless as my wife’s emotions are volatile and her desire to completely atone for her betrayal is weak. If the odds are really low, then I want to move on with my life.

      • Healing Mark March 2, 2012 at 11:29 am #

        Who cares about the “odds”? Who establishes the “odds”? I suppose the “odds” you should care about are the ones attributable solely to your relationship and, yes, if you feel little chance that you will ever be happily married again after discovering the existence of an affair, it’s easier to give up and end the relationship. But there is always a chance (and there are those out there like myself who can attest to getting past an EA – not a PA for me, but folks are out there for this too – and in most instances finding themselves in a better marriage than before the affair) that your marriage may survive all the damage the affair has wrought, so rather than worry about “odds” I suggest giving your marriage a chance to be “fixed” for the better.

        I suppose that I may have been a bit lucky, in that my wife’s EA had ended many months prior to its discovery, and we both felt very strongly that we wanted to be happily married to each other. We were just having a hard time being happy together, much as a result of her EA, but also as a result of work stress and our inability to properly deal with that and other stresses we were under. Counseling gave us great opportunities to vent, gain understanding of things we just couldn’t understand before, and also “stuff” that we will always have available for use to avoid returning to some of the bad places we found ourselves in at the time we started counseling.

        Lastly, my wife’s emotions were also quite volatile and she very reluctantly came around to acknowledging that her relationship with her AP was damaging. Lot’s a flip flopping, lots of fights about the EA and its effects, lots of hurt and despair and discouragement. Frankly, life sucked a lot until we finally reached a point where I could genuinely forgive her and we could put the EA behind us and focus on just being good parents and the best partners for each other that we could be. THERE IS HOPE! AND THERE ARE COUPLES OUT THERE THAT HAVE OVERCOME AFFAIRS AND RESUMED HAPPY AND SATIFYING MARRIAGES!

        • Let us go and make our visit. March 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

          Thank for saying that. It’s hard to believe we have a chance sometimes.

          Unfortunately for me, my wife clearly still has feelings for the OM. And while my wife has no contact with him today (dropping out of organizations and situations where she’d meet him), there’s no doubt that she misses the thrill of falling in love and enjoying the incubated fantasy life of the EA. So, even though we both considered our marriage very strong up until recently, it’s no match for the intoxicating thrill of falling in love. I too can imagine the fun of pursuing another woman and courting her. But as a married adult, I’ve made the decision that I want a lifelong relationship through marriage and a stable family. So, I avoid all situations where temptation could get the best of me.

          My wife failed to recognize this guy’s aggressive pursuit of her and he pounced at a point where I was facing immense work stress (staying the office past mid-night). My wife foolishly decided that since she’d never been attracted to anyone else before (don’t all heterosexual people have attractions?) that this was a sign of the failure of our marriage. Now I am compared daily to the fantasy conjured up by the OM — a brilliant wealthy but well-known sociopath in our area with a wake of destroyed families and lives.

          My hope is that with time, my wife will mature and realize that the life of a committed marriage and family is satisfying, valuable and virtuous; good for child and parent alike. Between now and then, I am going to be a more independent and better version of myself. I will seek more fun with her daily and avoid being a needy overly attached hanger on.

          Thank you.

  15. chiffchaff March 2, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    The opinions I’ve read mainly make it clear that it’s very hard to recover from an EA, but it depends on the circumstances, how long it was going on, whether it was with someone the CS knew as a partner in the past, whether the EA ended voluntarily or was discovered etc. In my situation my H had a PA that developed into an EA over 10 months. He was discovered by me at the very height of his infatuation with the OW. So, it’s been very hard for him to let her go, which has then meant I’ve got fed up of waiting for him.
    Only you can tell how long you can stick it for depending on your wife. My H has no interest in atoning for his betrayal. He still has no concept of what he’s done to himself.

    • Let us go and make our visit. March 2, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      I really feel for you. The heartache I’ve endured the last seven months has been the most challenging experience of my life. An EA causes you to reevaluate all things–your spouse, of course, but also yourself, your perception of reality, your priorities, the existence of true love.

      My wife’s EA was for about six months and was terminated last November. I knew about it for half that time during which we were in marriage counseling. The time when she was equivocating between OM and me was the worst. I truly know your pain.

      Things for us have mainly progressed since November. The OM is gone, but there’s still so much uncertainty and the healing is uneven. I sometimes fear that nothing will erase these memories and purge these ugly feelings. I once called myself the “luckiest guy in the world;” that, I’m afraid, is gone for good.

      The nagging question is whether there’s a better life without her or whether the best life is the one I’m fighting for.

  16. confused and in pain January 5, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    Interesting reading

    I discovered my wife’s EA a week ago, the EA was kind of over in that they had decided to end it a month ago.. however this doesn’t change the way I am feeling..betrayed
    We’ve been married 10 years, 3 children..

    I confronted my wife 2 days ago. She regrets hurting me and wants to give our marriage a chance. But what is annoying me is that I have asked her to have completely no contact with the OM..she says she can’t promise that. They met through a photo sharing website and she wants to carry on using that website… I don’t know how trust can be rebuilt when I know they could be making contact on that website..I don’t know how my wife will move on and get back to thinking about me, if there is any contact between them.

    The OM is married as well and says that his wife has also found out.

    I’ve suggested we get marriage counselling, think it would benefit us both, but my wife rejects that idea…

    Any advice appreciated

  17. Broken2 January 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    Confused and in Pain……Your wife can never have contact with the affair partner again….NO CONTACT whatsoever. Without that your marriage cannot even begin to heal. All websites deleted…all contact severed…all passwords to phones, emails given to you. There must be full disclosure and trandparency. It cant be any other way. It sounds to me like your wife wants it both ways….you need to make it clear that isnt going to happen. I am sorry this has happened to you and you can go on to have a better marriage after a VERY LONG recovery period and alot of work of both parties but the critical first step is NO CONTACT AT ALL. You must make it clear you will not tolerate it any other way. The threat of losing you and her life quite often is a wake up call they need. Dont give into her ….you are in charge now…you call the shots now. It has been 27 months since I found out about my husbands affair and I still struggle but I will give him credit in that the day I found out I insited her call her with me standing there and the speaker on. All contact severed. He willingky did this or I would have left.

  18. Let us go and make our visit January 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    Confused -

    I so feel for you. I have been in exactly your shoes. 13 years of marriage, 2 kids, all the indications of a very healthy relationship, then D-Day.

    First, what does your gut tell you about saving this relationship? For me, the overwhelming emotion was to save the relationship, save the family and, frankly, save my wife from an incredibly stupid decision. My conviction was so strong that there were no pros and cons, no decision-making; it was all “how do I fix this?”

    If your gut is telling you the same thing, then here’s my advice.

    1. Don’t leave the house. You didn’t violate your marriage promise. If she decides to go, she doesn’t go with the kids. Women have strong maternal instincts and you have to work it to your and your family’s advantage. You are fighting for the kids, so you don’t retreat.

    2. Since you are the one fighting for the family, you get to call a few shots. Insist upon the following:
    -No contact.
    -Marriage counseling 2x per week immediately. The marriage counselor will make it clear that no contact is the only way to have a chance to rebuild your marriage. You need to get advice on a good one. There are many bad ones out there. Also, for me, marriage counseling became a place for all the ugly hard stuff to come out as my wife would lose her temper quickly after a while.
    -Individual therapy for both of you, 1-2x per week
    -Open access to phone, email, etc. This will also be supported by any sane marriage counselor as way to rebuild trust.

    3. You need friends and supporters. Line up your best buds, talk to your father, call your bro, confide to your pastor, etc. You need to have lots of support and loving people to advise you. Your head is spinning and your judgment isn’t so hot now. Your friends need to call BS on you and not just agree with everything you say.

    4. Work out. Exercise helps in many ways.

    5. Keep it light and tight with your wife. One of my best friends came up with this strategy. “Light” means no heavy relationship talk all the time. “Tight” means stick to the plan. No lighting rod topics. No tirades about the OM and what a jerk he is. You need to be the better man. More composed, more confident, stronger, more integrity than the adulterous OM. For months you’ve been a guinea pig in a perceptual constant experiment–you vs OM daily without your knowledge. Your wife has looked for any and all evidence to justify her stupid behavior. Listen for her rationalizations and then “keep it light and tight” as you defeat those theories in how you conduct yourself as a man and father.

    6. Shine a bright light on reality. The OM in my case was a known sociopathic adulterer. It took literally two hours to get third-parties to share their stories. While I couldn’t verify each anecdote, I eventually had several vignettes that I shared with my wife and which began to erode her confidence in the EA. When I got to her best friends and shared the news, they too poured forth more corroborating information that I wasn’t even aware of. Talking to friends is dangerous territory, but in my case I felt the risk was worth it.

    7. Protect the kids. In my case, my kids never found out. If that’s possible, maintain that. In your discussions with your wife, take the position consistently that you’re looking out for the welfare of kids and the family. You’ll get the BS about how the kids will be happier if the parents are individually happier. Nonsense. See Between Two Worlds and Unexpected Legacy of Divorce.

    We spent a fortune on therapy and were distracted from our careers. But we’re better and about to renew our vows. I am about to drop from this website. I now find work more stressful than relationship worries which is good.

    Most of all, you’ll grow from this experience and become a better man.

    Keep your chin up.

  19. Livingwithdoubt April 3, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    28 years of marriage. Two children. One fall evening, after having read one long romantically inclined text on my wife’s cell phone to and from an ex boyfriend of some thirty-five years my world came to a screeching halt. As the walls around me began to melt into the floors I realized that my world hadn’t just stopped, it had died.
    I have tried to forgive her. I have given what’s left of my heart, my soul into saving our marriage, but after losing the faith, the trust that we once had between us…I don’t think we can ever get back to the way we once were. Once you find out that someone has lied to you not only once but hundreds of times by not telling you of their phone conversations, their texts, over the course of a day, a week, a month (in my case seven months), after you have been lied to your face, behind your back, while in your bed, while you were at church, it’s hard to believe that they will never lie to you again.
    My wife had her EA after she’d just turned fifty. Before the EA I considered myself a very lucky guy; she had lost a few pounds, started wearing Victoria Secrets clothing and pulled it off quite well, easily passing for a woman in her early thirties. She was a loving wife, a loving mother. She was an all around delight to have in my life. I was in good shape myself but found that Iwas steadily gaining water weight due to the medication I was on because of a hip injury. Here is some really good advice: Never take pain meds (Vicoden) for more than a week. Throw them in the garbage and live with the pain or go get a shot. I was on Vicoden for more than a year prior and I blame the drug on a change in my mood/attitude and my weight gain (water weight), which, no matter how much extra exercising I did I could not shed. Mood? Attitude? I did become short tempered with people that I found were blatantly stupid. She would eventually blame me for having caused the affair because she said I was ‘mean’ to her all the time, distant. Part of this is true and was definitely due to the drugs, but I would have snapped at her even without the pain meds because she would tell me she was going out when I needed her there to help me. It especially bothers me now that I know what she was up to, who she was probably going to see. But now I have to hold it all in or she cries. Trust? It’s gone! Trust is no longer a part of my vocabulary, neither is ‘sexy’ (his pet name for her in the text I read) or xoxoxo (how she ended her text before saying ‘I love you’ which also is no longer a word that I believe in). But other than those instances of snapping at her I have no idea what she was talking about. You have to understand my situation back then. I was so in love with my wife that summer, during our anniversary party, with my wife present, I told someone that I was still madly in love with her and did not know how long we’d been married because I’d stopped counting after two years the love we had together always seemed so fresh, so new and appreciated by me. That spring I had just dropped ten thousand dollars on redoing our kitchen into her dream kitchen (which I was doing myself) and I had also bought her a newer car (an 07 BMW). I was working more or less two jobs considering the weekends that I spent wiring, plumbing, lighting, installing cabinets, dry walling, flooring (all complete tear outs), painting. I never enjoyed my summer while she was enjoying her EA. I have a Harley but never had a chance to ride it. I have four wheelers and dirt bikes but never rode them because I was always working, determined to have everything finished before Thanksgiving. I eventually began having nightmares that she was cheating on me and confronted her about my dreams, but she denied them each time (3). The only way I enjoyed the summer was by drinking, but only on the weekends (six, maybe eight) and only in the evenings and only as I continued working into the night (eleven or so) while she sat by the firepit and talked on her phone. Her other excuse was that I didn’t want to go anywhere with her….Really? When did I have the time? I had no one helping me and she had no kitchen without my being there getting the work done each weekend and throwing the old sink and stove back in so she had a kitchen during the week. I started popping Vikes four times a day after being told by my doctor that I could in order to ease the pain that gradually radiated into my lower back. I misunderstood him though and would later find out that he’d meant one pill twice a day, not two pills twice a day. Not a good mix either, beer and Vicoden. No wonder I may have seemed wild eyed and out of my mind to her (my own interpretation). But the bottom line is had she not been having the EA she would have/should have confronted me about the pills and asked me to stop. I would have had it been her. We’d both seen an Uncle and brother-in-law go through almost the same thing (mood swings) and their wives confronted them, hell, my mother even confronted them but no one told me. Maybe I wasn’t as bad as she makes out. No, the EA was her fault not mine. I would later find out that she’d been talking/texting to the prick three months before I went overboard with the drugs anyhow. So she really never did have a really good excuse, except that she wanted something else and I wasn’t delivering it for her at the time. At the time I thought I was doing everything I could for her because she deserved the best. Do you know what it feels like to find out that she never respected me? That it was because of an ex-boyfriend of more than thirty years that she was dredging up all of my past screw ups that occurred before we had gotten married, were barely dating. When you’ve got an unconscionable, freshly divorced prick whispering all the right things in your wifes ear at the right time in her life (postmenopausal) and her husband seems to have grown distant from her (because he works too much) that makes for as much a lethal combination as my taking the Vicodens did, the perfect storm at the perfect time.
    I can see now that I will never get over the EA that my wife put me through. This letter, this venting is proof. It’s been about a year and a half now and as much as I’ve tried, I just can’t get over the fact of what she did to me. I still believe, although she denies it vehemently, that she screwed him, and more than once. I believe she only denies it because I told her I might be able to handle the EA but if she so much as touched him she was gone from my life forever and her children and family would be told the truth, that it was not my fault and the evidence would be presented for all to see. Since that October I have blocked all phone calls and texts in and out of her and my daughters (sprint) cell phones to anyone I don’t know and doesn’t have an explanation for and of course to her ex bf and the one girlfriend that had known about it all along and as far as I am concerned encouraged her to screw me over. I have blocked all Private and Unknown numbers coming into the house (att uverse). I have also put a tracking app on her cell-phone (Locator app) so that I can find out where she is (more or less) when I allow her to go out alone or when she is on her way to and from work. I check her car for cigarette butts or containers of pop/coffee she may have purchased at a McD’s, BK or Dunkin Donuts on her travels without me. I actually found an empty McD coffee container in the outside trash bin and asked her if it was hers and when and why she’d stopped and bought it, as that was out of her ordinary routine. She said she’d been starving that entire day and had stopped to get a fish sandwich. Where were the wrappers, I asked She didn’t answer. Who drinks coffee with fish sandwich’s, I asked. She couldn’t come up with an answer. Did she meet someone there? And at that she got mad that I would ask such a question after all the time that had passed and ran upstairs crying. I might have chased her at one time and apologized, but at that point, her not answering my valid questions I sat down at the kitchen table, opened a beer and realized that I no longer really cared. If she was up there packing her bags to leave I made up my mind right then and there to give her ten thousand dollars and to wish her well, she could even keep the car. It was no longer worth the mental stress I was putting myself through, she’s been putting me through, not anymore. I had grown. My legs no longer shook, my hands no longer trembled at the thought of losing her. She didn’t leave by the way. My son is getting married this summer. I have a feeling my wife doesn’t want to spoil the wedding but is waiting until after its over to leave. Some day, after a hard day at work, I am going to come home to an empty house. Literally, an empty house. I have a feeling she is going to clean me out, including all of the bank accounts with her name on them, maybe even the ones that she doesn’t. All of the furniture, our credit cards. She has good teachers after all, her sisters, her girlfriends. But you know what? I also made up my mind that evening of the coffee cup debate, that I won’t care if she does. It will have all been for the better if she just ups an leaves without so much as a note. I don’t want to know where she goes or who she is with. If it doesn’t happen by the end of this year, and unless I have a drastic change of mind, of heart, I will eventually step off this ticking time bomb I call my life and tell her that I want the divorce. All in due time though. All in due time. I will have my day of reckoning with the ex-boyfriend, eventually and its not going to be pretty, the outcome, probably for either one of us. But for the time being I will hold what crappy cards I have been dealt close to my chest and pray for the best.

  20. ydmany September 9, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    i’ve found it really useful; reading this .. i didnt realise my h was having an ea until i saw a counsellor – he had worked with a younger woman and they had become great “friends” as their job was quite demanding and they supported each other. it quickly progressed to swapping gifts, texting and FB each other outside of work and sending emails, some of which made my hackles rise. he told her that he had secrets he kept from me and also that he had never met anyone like her. she told him she had been in a long term relationship before she met her current husband (an invitation) and also other personal stuff like the eating disorder she had and her method of contraception. before long my husband was arriving home after our son had gone to bed and i was becomming paranoid about what was happening.when i expressed concern he told her i was jealous, something which she then shared with her friends and i feel as though i have been ridiculed for this. i finally put my foot down when, after she had resigned (having stated that she could not stay in the job without my husband, who was being made redundant) he insisted the relaionship would tail off. he spent £60 on her leaving gift, part of which was a hare ornament, and then went to have an almost identically posed hare tattooed on his shoulder, something i objected to as it would give me a constant reminder of what they did.. Since i have confronted my husband he has admitted that he felt flattered by the attentions of a younger woman who needed his care ( she is 18 years my junior) and he has insisted he will finish contact. However, i feel it’s all just gone underground – he private messages her on facebook and phones her when i’m out – he thinks i dont know but i have become adept at finding this. every time i catch him out he insists that he “forgot” he contacted her. He tells me he’s done nothing wrong and that he needs time to end contact. they dont work together anymore and i think she quite enjoys the fact that he is responsive to her. his last communication was to “like” her post on facebook that she was travelling home after being away – not a behaviour which might create emotional distance is it – sounds to me like he’s missed her. am i seeing too much in this? I have told my husband i no longer trust him and while he tells me he want to rebuild that trust his actions speak otherwise. i’m beginning to doubt who has the problem here, him or me. is this normal? we did invite them round for a meal (her and her husband) as i thought it might let her see that we have a good marriage, a nice home and we’ve no intention of splitting up, but she even dropped some poison then, suggesting that my h and her might attend a workshop together. this feels like a very nasty game and i want out of it. i desperately want my marriage to work – i thought he was my soulmate and never saw that he might do something like this – but how do i learn to trust him again. please help

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