Trying to recover from an affair is frustrating and confusing, to say the least. Nobody is ever taught prior to marriage about how to handle infidelity or how to save a marriage. We’re here to try and help you with this.
Over the course of several past discussions, blog posts and numerous comments, we’ve come up with some great lessons and pieces of affair advice from other infidelity survivors.
Here are some comment nuggets that we’ve compiled from numerous blog posts to provide you with some ideas, additional direction and perhaps some hope.
Affair Advice, Lessons and Mistakes…
Chiff Chaff: Quick fixes, not asking burning questions (at the right time) or ignoring gut feelings and inconsistencies about what you’ve been told, makes recovery take so much longer.
Gosh. every situation is different. Try to stop second guessing what the CS is doing or thinking and concentrate on what you’re thinking, doing and feeling instead. You can only address your own issues and you must concentrate on yourself first, as you need to be incredibly strong to deal with this no matter – which way the recovery process goes.
Sara K: No matter what you think you know about your spouse there is always more to learn. You can always dig deeper, share more and understand more. Love has no boundaries if it is truly unconditional and there is mutual respect involved on both sides.
Time really does heal. It’s a LONG road, with lots of bumps but if you are dedicated and he’s dedicated you can survive and be better for it. Also, no one truly knows your heart so don’t let others judgments be your guide, learn to trust yourself again.
KelBelly: I have learned that two people can love each other and totally lose sight of that! I have learned that a marriage is even harder work than I thought and that sometimes you have to fight the negative to find enough positive to hold on.
Let yourself feel all the emotions of it and go with it! Don’t let your CS rush you through the recovery and don’t let them shut down and not give you the answers you need. No healing will began if you can’t place the affair.
TSD: A lesson I learned, which is repeatedly spoken thru Doug and Linda’s blogs, is marriage is hard with or without an affair…that constant care is needed, and neglect is a form of drying out your needs, BUT crossing the line is the fault of one person only.
Come to this site, know that you are never alone in your feelings, that the process is better taken slow and to never expect grand gestures…slow, small and steady do add up to a better, long lasting, fulfilling relationship.
Patsy50: Each affair is different with its own set of reasons as to why this happened but I would say hang in there. As long as you each have a small piece of love for one another and the willingness to do the work to support each other, you will reach the end of your journey side by side.
Lrdm: If in your heart you both want to be committed to the relationship, get all the information that you need to put the affair into a “real” place in your mind and eliminate the fantasy. Once you get all that information, you must be able to use it as you need but not throw it in your spouse’s face at every turn. Continued communication is key but finding the right time to discuss the affair is also key. It is easy for the CS to get down and frustrated with a feeling that this could never work if you just pepper and pepper with questions and guilt at all hours of the day and night. It just isn’t constructive.
Natalia: I’ve learned to trust my gut feelings and to question him when something doesn’t add up. I’ve also learned that I deserve better and will never put up with his bulls#!+ anymore.
Try to get over the initial shock ASAP. It’s easier said than done but it is a crucial point. You need to be calm and level headed when you confront your spouse. If you let your emotions (anger, pain) get in the way you will accomplish ZERO!
Linda T: One of the most valuable lessons that I’ve learned from the affair recovery process is to talk about his reasons for doing what he did and look at like a puzzle where all the pieces are missing. Even to the point of putting a puzzle on a table, asking a question when it came to your mind. Hopefully he will answer it truthfully and put that piece in the puzzle, after you write down what he said.
When you get further into this journey and you are trying to make sense of it, you can then read what he said and compare if need be, or at least try and make some sense of what happened during the affair. Don’t wait till later to ask the questions, ask them while they are fresh in the spouses head.
Blueskyabove: If I could do one thing differently I would be more honest with myself, less trusting in my thoughts and what I was telling myself. I caused myself a lot of unnecessary turmoil by not questioning what my mind and ego was saying. My life wasn’t over as I initially kept insisting it was. I had all the proof I needed. I was still breathing, my heart was still beating. The made-up scenarios my mind kept envisioning were just that…made-up scenarios. Geez…I still find it somewhat embarrassing to recall the drama that surrounded my emotions at the time. None of it was beneficial to my growth and recovery.
Virginia: Forgiveness is for you not the CS or OW or anyone else who facilitated the affair. So I chose to forgive. Forgiveness allowed me to separate myself from the ugliness of their actions. It also helps keep me on the path of healing when the pain and lingering anger rear their ugly heads.
Move through the process to the best of your ability and try not to get stuck. It’s an emotional roller coaster with highs and really big lows, but just keep moving. It’s easy to stay angry or keep screaming or be bitter, etc. but do your best to have those moments and move on to the good stuff. Heal yourself with all the small things that make you happy! Remember the affair was never about you!!!!!
Exercisegrace: I have learned to always, always, always trust my instincts. They were dead on, and I ignored them. No, actually I let him talk me out of them. Bully me down with angry, indignant denials that ended with ME apologizing to HIM for doubting him and trying to wreck our relationship. I have learned that while I love him, I would not curl up and die if he left. I am stronger than I ever thought possible. I was not “crazy” and “paranoid” and I did not “need to be medicated”. I have learned that the main person I need to learn to trust is MYSELF.
WriterWife: I’ve learned that at the end of the day I have myself and that is the one thing I can count on beyond anything else. I’m responsible for taking care of myself and loving myself and while it’s wonderful to have others in your life, at the end of the day I can’t rely on other people to build the foundation of my self.
Rachel: If I could have done one thing different, I wished that I was able to control my rage/anger.
Greg: The least productive thing I did was obsess about trying to find every little detail of what my wife was doing through out each and very day after I discovered the affair. Since I had accessed every email account she had, home, work, and web based, had full access to both our home computer and her work computer, and was able to see her phone records, I became obsessed with the possibility that she might contact him again or that she was doing something else I wouldn’t like. It consumed large portions of my day just trying to see what she was doing every day. It would always get me wound up if I saw something that looked like she was doing something different than usual. It wasn’t good for me, as I couldn’t move forward while doing this, and it wasn’t good for her, as she knew I was constantly checking up on her.
Healing Mark: I would say that I would advise a betrayed spouse to not obsessively follow their CS’s phone, text and email activities as in my experience very little good came out of it (sure, after awhile it became clear that my wife was not crossing boundaries, but the wasted time and pain getting there was not, for me, worth it).
However, I’m afraid that this is a fairly unavoidable step in the healing process, much like being angry at the CS, like being depressed and feeling less self-worth given the CS’s emotional attachment to another person, like not trusting the CS very much for some period of time after D-day, and others. All I know is that in my case, once I stopped obsessing with checking up, and my wife knew this to be true, things got SO MUCH BETTER for us and genuine forgiveness quickly followed.
Yeah Right: What helped me, and us, was totally stepping back. I stopped being the one to instigate conversations and ask questions. I figured if he wanted this to work, it was time for him to step it up. And I told him so. I outright told him I was waiting for him to show me he was committed to our marriage, and I was no longer going to take the lead to “fix it.” I waited a while with nothing, I can tell you. But I think withdrawing helped me to gain composure and focus on myself, and helped him to realize that this was his problem and I was not going to lay down and take it like a doormat any more. He eventually came around.
Sam: If I could go back in time, I’d probably NOT want to read all their e-mails. Many of the messages they exchanged haunt me – and it’s an additional cause of suffering.
Eva: A mistake I made was believing their story and thinking that me, the wife, was the third party to their relationship. I couldn’t even refer to it as an affair, until now. Then I started to romanticize their affair and obsess about the details, and feel that perhaps they are more compatible to be together.
Melissa: My mistake – amongst others – was to try and heal on my own. I tried single-handedly to rebuild trust and move on (and yes, I did have a few wobbly moments in between when the pain was just too much). This only led to a second D-day when I blew my top, having discovered that my H and the OW had agreed to meet up and there had been more secrets and lies.
NW: I think I am still doing the least productive thing, which is pouring energy into wondering about her and whether or not he has spoken to her today. I have to assign her a lot less importance, she really isn’t worth it.
PunchingBag: I think there are many things that I have done that have proven to be unproductive. But I think there are two that really seem to be at the forefront as I look back today.
First, I should have never confronted my wife when all I had was a gut feeling that there was something going on. This lead to lies and more lies as she tried to blow it off and “get it under control” before anything bad happened. This has led to discovery after discovery of pieces of information that I should have uncovered myself as evidence or that she might have told me if I had more solid evidence to start with. Just added more pain, more delays, and more heartache.
Second, I should have never let her know how weak I was and how much I want our marriage to work. This gave her a great deal of power to do and say what she pleased without fear of me leaving or her being kicked out. I feel much stronger and I now know that if our marriage is to end because of her transgression that she will be the one that must move out. I will stay, I will care for our children, I will not let anyone think that I am weak and left my family, and she can go live in her fantasy until it crumbles.
If I could have done something differently I think I would have done a better job at controlling my emotions and controlling our conversations as to not let her turn them around on me. I think too many times our communication breaks down within minutes of starting and goes downhill fast. If our conversations were more controlled and respectful I think we could have gotten many things out and addressed at a much faster pace.
Joe: The obsession to know is a behavior I am OK with. What I’m not proud about is the way I verbally berated her in that discovery period. Laying on guilt, calling her names, trying to ‘shock’ her back to reality. I know now how damaging and futile that approach is.
Notoverit: The CS has to come to the realization himself/herself and there is nothing we BS can do to make it (our healing) go any faster. Hang in there and work on yourself, learn things about yourself and keep reading for you. My H is finally starting to realize that all this EA mess was just his attempt to feel better about himself – selfish and self-centered. I knew that from the beginning but it took him some time and counseling to realize it.
Rodion: I think the least productive thing I did was to confront my wife with my knowledge of the affair. From the sounds of it, a lot of you had spouses who immediately displayed remorse and then decided to end the affair. Mine did not. Oh, she was remorseful, and truly so, but the affair had just gone physical and she was totally addicted and told me she could not break it off. I believed her initially, and thought that divorce was my only option. I then realized that other trajectories were possible and began marriage coaching with the aim to reconcile.
It’s been a long haul, and she’s still obstinate and totally enveloped in the affair fog. I do think that my initial confrontation just made it worse. It drove them closer together and as a result that could mean that the situation might have resolved sooner if I’d just gotten out of the way and allowed it to run its course.
But, mistakes are mistakes and we can only work with what we’ve got and what we’ve done.
Surviving: I kept too much inside and didn’t tell family members or close friends what was going on with me. I retreated from all of them and closed myself off. The only person I was with during this time was my H. I should have reached out to more people and did more things.
Recovering: I would’ve contacted the OWs husband right away… I would’ve left… I would’ve kept my own dignity intact and let HIM do the work and figure HIS crap out since I wasn’t to blame despite his accusing me of being the reason for HIS affair.
Forcryin’outloud: First and foremost I’ve learned when someone is hellbent on viewing issues from an unrealistic and selfish perspective you cannot stop their actions or thought process. I was not clueless to my H’s withdrawal and changes but everything I did from being there for him, crying, yelling, begging, pleading, withdrawing, etc. did not matter. He was going down the rabbit hole come hell or high water.
Lea: I learned that all my actions were the best under given circumstances. Knowing that helps a lot, because that way it was meant to make me a better me – the me now.
Alice: It is very difficult, but try to remember that his emotional affair says more about him than it does about you. There is something empty within himself that he was trying to fill with the emotional affair.
D: I didn’t get my wife’s attention until I finally told her to go to him, I’ll even drive her over. Once I reached that point where I was more important than the marriage or her, and removed any conflict to her “happiness” soon the choice got very complicated for her.
State your case, stand your ground, then live your life.
Life’s too short and partners too plentiful to wait around for someone who’s not even trying.
Suziesuffers: Reading this list of things that in retrospect might have gone different, seems idealistic of how we might be able to change things as we are processing through the affair pain. But it seems that regardless of what we do, the process is about the same for all of us.
Sure, we all demand passwords, emails and then get the same defensive conversations from our CS and the same loving gestations to distract us from the discussion. We all read as much as we can and become obsessive in trying to find out how to save the marriage while our wives/husbands sit back. We all seem to compare ourselves to the OW. The CS all seem to be in a fog. They seem to all say they love us but aren’t in love with us. They have found someone that makes them happy. We all worry about what they are still hiding and maybe contacting the OW. Being angry upfront….
I appreciate this list more for the “what I went through and wish could have been different, but I’m human”….than something that we might be able to do differently.
Grieving and healing take a certain course, and the CS seems to take about the same course as the BS in almost everyone of these stories, so I’m not sure we have the power to change what could, would and should happen.
Thanks to all of the readers that we highlighted – and to those we didn’t – for offering the helpful affair advice, lessons learned and mistakes made. We’re sorry that we couldn’t include more.
If you feel that you have some additional relevant information reflecting your own experiences, please do so in the comment section below.