I remember not knowing where to turn or what direction to take after the emotional affair that Doug had.

after the emotional affair

By Linda

We have been receiving so many comments and emails recently from affair victims who are voicing frustration about their cheating spouse’s affairs, as well as the actual state of their marriages. 

When I read the comments I feel frustrated, angry and hopeless, as I remember feeling the exact same way two years ago – not knowing where to turn or what direction to take after the emotional affair that Doug had.

Today Doug asked if I was going to respond to some of the comments.  I told him that honestly I don’t know what to say anymore.  I feel as hopeless and defeated as the readers do.  I feel like telling them to walk away, and that it’s hopeless, it takes too much strength and causes so much pain.

Well, those thoughts occurred during a moment of weakness, and by the time I went upstairs a few minutes later I felt empowered and riled up. 

I am not a counselor or a therapist, but I am someone who has been through the turmoil of an emotional affair and I have learned from my triumphs and mistakes.  I hope that maybe you can benefit from some things that I have learned from our experience.

Here are my thoughts…

Don’t be pulled into the fantasy of the affair. Right now your spouse is living in an illusion.  The person that he/she is “in love” with is an image that was created in his/her head.  The person may be real, but the OW/OM is not the perfect person he/she believes she/he is.  The affair partner (AP) cannot meet their needs any better than you can.  The AP is simply provided with the perfect opportunity to project his/her best self onto your spouse.

Doug only experienced Tanya in a work situation, and on their lunch hour.  From what he experienced during that time he believed that was her whole and true personality.  He created in his head that she was the perfect person for him.  He might as well have had an emotional affair with Angelina Jolie since he probably knew just as much about her as he really knew about Tanya.

See also  Emotional Infidelity: Comparing the Affair Partner to the Spouse

The affair is not your fault. Do not take responsibility for the actions of your spouse – even if your spouse is telling you that the affair is not your fault.  If your spouse continues to tell you that what he found in his affair partner was that which was missing in your marriage, he is still blaming you. If she is telling you that you should have done things differently, or that her affair partner fulfills a need, she is still blaming you.

Until the unfaithful person takes full responsibility for the affair, admits that he too was part of the problem in your marriage, and is willing to do whatever he can to make the marriage work (no contact with other OP, see a therapist, read books, etc.) then he is still blaming you for the affair.

Your spouse may be telling you that she is unhappy in your marriage because you are negative, cranky, boring etc.  Please do not allow your spouse to compare you to the OP and hurt your self-esteem. Please listen to what she is telling you, then take the time to think about what is really true and accurate.


Save Your Marriage by Saving Yourself


Doug told me that I was always so negative and Tanya was always positive.  I took this very personally thinking that I could never be like her, but then I really thought about it and agreed I had become negative over the past years.  I then thought about why. I realized that I had been working too hard, taking  too much responsibility around the house, and I became tired, boring and resentful.

See also  A Betrayed Wife’s Reflections on Her Husband's Work Affair and Her Decision

I also realized there was a very easy solution to the problem, so I stopped working so hard and started spending time doing things for myself (exercise, long bubble baths, happy hours).  You know what?  The negativity magically went away.

I learned that I wasn’t doing it to save my marriage. I was saving myself and I was much happier as a result.  I took some of the load off of me and put it on Doug. 

Much later I realized that I was making it very easy for him to conduct his affair.  When I thought he was putting in so much time at work, I tried to be a good wife and pick up some of his slack, but little did I know that I was making it much easier for him to maintain his emotional affair.

Don’t be drawn into the fantasy that your spouse is perfect. Before I found out about Doug’s emotional affair, I was very unhappy because there were many things missing in our marriage.  Our communication needed improvement, we both had become too involved with our children’s activities and we both became boring.  Doug would often stonewall me when I tried to confront him with my discontent.

As soon as Doug told me he didn’t know if he loved me anymore, I forgot everything I was unhappy about, and blamed our problems on me.  He became as perfect to me as Tanya believed he was.  I felt that if someone else overlooked his faults, then I must be too sensitive.  If he was so attentive to her then I must not be worth the effort.  I began to believe that he was as perfect as her fantasy believed he was.

Don’t go there.  Make a list of his/her faults and look at the list realistically.  Discuss this list with your spouse .  Do not allow him/her to treat you in a way that is not appropriate just because he/she claims that the AP agrees with everything (that they communicate well etc.).  Again, she/he is living in a fantasy world.  Their communication is not that of real life.

See also  What Transparency Can (and Can't) Do After an Emotional Affair

Educate yourself as much as you can about affairs. You need to have the knowledge and power and realize that your spouse has lost his/her mind. You are the one who needs to keep your head on straight.

I know you are in severe pain, and you are not eating, sleeping, your pulse is moving at a rapid rate, you are not thinking clearly, but you have to pull yourself together and pull yourself away from the fantasy world that your spouse is experiencing.

Treat him/her like you understand what he/she is going through but you will not allow him/her to hurt you in the process. Pretend you know what the future will be like, and that down the road your spouse will be unhappy when he/she finally understands that the relationship was just an illusion. 

Let your spouse know that he/she is risking everything for someone who he/she barely knows.

Do not lecture him, or constantly tell her these things, but behave in a way that demonstrates that you know that he/she would be better off with you.  Have the confidence that the affair will not work out and that your spouse will regret his/her actions.

For many of the various books, courses, etc. that we both have used in recovering from an affair, please visit our resource page. We’ve also created several programs that may be of benefit, which you can learn more about here.




    28 replies to "4 Ways to Empower Yourself After the Emotional Affair"

    • Jennifer

      Oh Linda!!! EXCELLENT post today! I really did need this. Things were going so well for so long and then, for the past week or so, I have been so down and negative. I felt like it was finally the end and he was going to file. After hearing your encouraging words, I now view this as simply a valley in the ‘roller coaster ride’ that is inevitable in a situation like this. Things WILL get better. It’s only the end if I quit trying.

      ” behave in a way that demonstrates that you know that he would be better off with you”
      This phrase spoke to me. He won’t listen to my words, but I can BEHAVE in a way that shows him that I’m not giving up, I do love him, but I’m not putting up with any crap. Besides the message that (hopefully) sends to him, it makes me more confident. My therapist tells me my husband sounds ‘immature’ and I agree. Time to stop being superwife and resenting all the hard work I do. He is my partner, not my boss, not my child. PARTNER. I deserve to enjoy life. And I will even if today’s not exactly that day. Thanks so much, Linda.

    • Jeffrey Murrah


      Well spoken. You nailed many important points, especially about the fantasy. Entering the fantasy world is akin to a member of the Dallas Cowboys thinking he can play rugby since the ball they use looks like a football. You may think you know how to deal with the fantasy world, but when they start changing the rules on you and what you see or imagine is not what is really there, you suddenly discover you are lost without a road map. Things may look familiar, but WHOA! they are very different from what you assumed.

      I also appreciate how you addressed the need for self care. That is essential. It may sound overly basic, but for many spouses, taking daily baths, eating healthy, taking care of their health, spiritual self-care and exercising have likely been neglected.

    • Donna

      I admit that I have found it very hard to not be pulled into the fantasy of the affair. I have had thoughts that maybe my husband is better off with OW as she seems so much more compatable to husband etc.. he has said that she is the only woman he will ever really love etc… when hearing those words how do you not get pulled into it and not believe that his feelings are real? He said that he is not like any other man, his situation is different and that he is inlove with this woman etc… He is not a happy man, he is miserable and just wants life to be normal.

      My husband does not see the OW as perfect what so ever. He see’s her faults and he has seen her at her very worst and yet he still loves her faults and all. So knowing that, that is where I find it hard to not get caught up in what he tells me about her.. his love for her etc… It is not masked by her so called perfection.

      He still makes love to me, and trust me it is making love.. not the get it over and done with and get out of bed and on your way kind of thing. This confuses me. He told me lastnight that he has made his decision and choice and that is to be with his family. He just now has to live that decision and choice and that is something he is not doing yet as he is doesn’t know how to actually stop the contact with OW as he loves her so much.

      What I wonder though is this.. if he is so in love with OW and that she is the only woman who he has ever loved, then why is he staying with me. I mean, what does that say to the OW? If that was me, I would be questioning his love for me if he couldn’t leave etc…

      As far as my spouse being perfect, never had an issue with that. Although I did have him on a pedestall and that he has now been kicked off from. He is human with many flaws as do I.

    • ANW

      Donna, I am in a similar place that you are, without the verbal commitment of his ‘choice’. He used to be at odds with the other woman and it grew into something more. What helps me is to keep the notion of fantasy in the front of my mind, because it is. My feeling is that until they are both under the same roof for years and dealing with all the real life situations, it is a fantasy. You mentioned the pedestal and I cringed. My H likes that she puts him in his place on occasion. I am learning that by putting him up there on his throne, I was devaluing myself and place. This is the crux of my problem. I have been doing some serious work for two years and have never felt so good about who I am. He sees it too. As for her, I choose to not spend my precious time here comparing his love for her to what we used to have. His fantasy will collide with reality soon and I will be where I have always been… In our home living my life. HE is the one that broke a vow. HE is the one who got himself in deep in another person’s life. And I will be the one who will be strong enough for the both of us to keep normalcy for our family. I refuse to get sucked into the adolescent fantasy. Donna, fight getting sucked in… it almost gives him permission for not allowing his heart to move on from her. Be strong , remember your goal, and KNOW that you are so worth it. I will try the same.

    • Pauline

      I am new to the link and reading everyones posts is helping alot. I just found out about my husbands affair three weeks ago and last week I found out about the second woman. One woman lives 3,000 miles away and he visited her in June. The other woman lives thousands of miles away and she is in love with my husband.
      he was talking to both woman for over a year and he said he fell out of love with me three years ago. He left for 3 weeks at my request and is now back. He blames me for what he hasdone. I too was not happy with the state of our marriage before I found out about the affairs. We have been married for 35 years. I am still numb and I am going to counciling in a couple days and try to work on getting me strong.

    • Angela

      Hi Lind ,i wante dto mention to you that people who have affairs outside marriages are the ones who have extremely poor self esteem and self worth .They are the ones who need to be validated not the cheated spouse.If anything you should thanks the other person for showing you the gaping hole of incompaitbility issues.Chetaing partners are narcissists and cheated spouses are co dependents.

      Your husbands affair has nothing to do with you or the other woman.He needs to face the consequences of his actions.
      Sorry this is the truth of thsi situation.You do not deserve this person but the fcat that you have now a relationship like marriage you have opiton to end it or live with renewed personalities.
      Narcissism is all pervasive and it stems from childhood issues which he needs to face .And i would suggest taht youa lose see within yourself as to what your rletaionship patterns have been throughout your life since your childhood. Normally peopel who get chaeted upon are the one swho are blinded by relationships and have abnadonment issues.

      I have been through all this .
      U need to fix your co dependence.regardless of what your partner does.
      or else thise vicious cycle never ends and this dance of narcisissim and codependence never ends only actors change.
      Hope i wasn’t too bitter but such is reality.

      I totally understand you rpain because i have been there and totally recovered from that trauma .I am only thankful that i am a much stronger human being than ever before.

      bye bye angela

    • Angela

      Hi After reading all the comments above i totally disagree that one should focus on behaving that he would be better withyou .ratherthe focus should be that hesees that YOU would be better off without him and that you do have a life ,heart and mind of your own and you rworld doesnt revolve around him but you.Only then would you be able to get back the relationship back in balance. Least of all you should not be demonstrating that a man that he can get away with an affair by pubilically acknowledging it or playing with two womens hearts and lives.
      The day you will realise that you do have a life without him ,everything will change in your emotions.

      If only women understood the plight of other women ,men wouldn’t be able to get advantage of them.

    • Angela

      By the way ,by giving public attention to your husband s affai ryou are only feeding his narcissism and giving him undue importance and constantly living the nightmare.Her memories can never get washed away like this in fact it is only keeping it alive and kicking.
      you need to stop discussing this issue for good and not opertaing website.You may be helping others but you are keeping her alive in your world.

    • Dealing

      My husband just informed me yesterday that he got a job and is moving to where the OW lives. He has only seen her once since this all started, well, maybe twice since she “disappeared” for a couple hours while he was on his interview that I didn’t know about. He is leaving a good job for something that doesn’t pay as well so he could be closer to her. I cannot believe how stupid this all is and how long I have tried to wait around for him to come to his senses. He has no idea what is waiting for him there. The fantasy really must be quite strong to up and move to where this OW is. I was shocked that it has truly gone this far. They have been e-mailing since the end of Feb. and then saw each other for the 1st time over Labor day weekend while the OW’s mother babysat her children so she could go on a date with my husband (the OW is married too). I am disgusted and distrurbed that this man I married behaves this way and it has really killed my self-esteem. Linda, thanks for your words about this affair not being the non-cheating spouses’ fault. It is appreciated, but really hard to keep in the forefront of one’s mind.

    • Angela

      HI I think the most important point is that you are empowering the other person by constantly thinking and discussing abou them where as the truth is that they are as victimised as you are.
      Men who have affairs love none of the women truly because they only love themselves or their false image .

      Dont they say relationship is like a mirror once broken can be mended but the crack is always there .

      If you would ever make an effort to find out the other side of the story from the other woman you would understan dthe fallacy you have regarding your husband becaus ethey say it takes two to tango.

      Normally women who have affairs with married women have been extremely manipluated emotionally and were only seeking a genuine friendship /guidance from a male collegue or friend but men always twist their emotions and make them fall for them and become more than friends.

      Think about it by thing outside the square of trying to posses the man.Set them free in your mind.If he returns from his free will he is yours or else you would always be in a tug of war beeteen him and any other xyz women.
      No woman is perfect but thats how we women compare always agianst each other and let men take the benefits of our self doubt.


      • Not all men cheat!

        Not that you are wrong but I don’t think you can speak of all cheaters because you don’t know them all. My wife cheated, she’s not a narcissus. She does have many issues but not that one.
        I can agree that he manipulated her emotions to make himself look like a better choice. But she wasn’t just manipulated by some guy that she works with. Some friend that happened to make her feel good. She found an ex-boyfriend. Well at least he found her at a time she wasn’t happy at home. And like allways she kept it all a secret.
        You seem real bitter toward men right now and rightfully so. Right now I can tell you I couldn’t do this again. I won’t get married again. Not even to my wife if she ever gets her head out of her a–.

        • Doug

          For some reason this went to our email. It is actually from Angela:

          Hi there is one very good reason why no to confront the other person.I saw a real time crime story where the wife confronted the other women and the two went into a strong verbal physical dual and the wife ended up killing the other women accidently and went to jail for life
          Now the man has married a third woman and living a new married life al toghether.
          Same can be reversely true if two men go in a fight for a women.one may kill the other and land up in jail while the women is all free to move on in life.

        • Doug

          This is also from Angela:

          Hi Thanks for your response.I truly empathsize with your situation. I can tell you so far that women generally cheat for love and money and men generally cheat for physical relationships.

          I have strong concers against any male or female who venture out of their married relationships becaus ethey are seriously troubled inside.

          From what yo have written you can easily say it for myself too only that i have been a cheated wife before .

          I also know a close friend who is in your wifes situation and i know exactly what goes on when married women meet their ex boyfriend’s and how these affairs progress and whats going on in these womens and men’s minds.

          I know exactly how and what the other man/woman says and how they feel about this situation.
          My friend still struggles with the relationship from both ends.
          These are serious mentalhhealth issues which need to be dealt very sensitively. and from what i can see its only be empowering themselves that any man or woman can overcome getting over the pain of an affair of their partner not by hopelessly wiating that one day thier partner will realise their follly because thay never truly will.They may return back due to the fear of jeaopardising their family structure but they can never ever give up the desire for the other person.Itis a double edged sword .

          Let me knwo if you want to communicate on this more.

          Take care

          • Karen

            I guess my question is do you or everyone else really think that they will always have feelings for the ow. Or do you think once they are out of the fog and realize the damage they have done and with a person who has no self respect for herself or marriage that they don’t then see that person for who they truly are. Do you not think that the ow would or can become disgusting to them?

            • chiffchaff

              Karen – in my case I feel (I know that this is what I ‘feel’ and not what I know) that my H will always have feelings for the OW. Primarily because of the way it ended. It didn’t end voluntarily by him. I think when the CS has taken immediate steps to end it themselves and not dragged it out and continued to sneak around and lie, then there’s less resentment and bitterness towards the BS as having broken up their ‘love’. My H acted as many others do on discovery, denied that the OW was even capable of breaking wind, things like that, and she was just his ‘perfect girl’. I feel that my H recognises that the OW probably wasn’t the fantasy that he’d built her up to be but I think if they met in the street there’d be something happen inside him. It’s why I always felt that it would’ve been better if he had really ended it with her in a proper manner, not kept her hanging on.

        • Shallyy

          Not all men cheat – Your comment totally just hit home with me. My H found an ex girlfriend (amongst others) and so I can totally relate to everything you said. 5 months down the line he is still trying to put things right but I doubt I will ever trust again or indeed feel anything close to normality. I wish you all the best with your future.

    • saddude

      So my situation is a bit different since my wife had her EA with a long-time friend of mine. He (OP) was someone I have know for 20 years and part of a core group of close friends. Over the years the time I have spent with this group of friends has been among my most cherished memories. Now that the EA has effectively killed my friendship I fear that I will no longer be able to enjoy spending time with this group of friends again. I am trying to decide whether or not to confront him directly. I have asked my wife to send an email to him and me disclosing that I knew (discovered explicit emails and texts) what had been going on and that it was completely over. My wife has been reluctuant to do this and I am now unsure if I should continue to push the issue. Part of me wants to send the email to the OP that I have written which spells out everything I know in detail, but I know that this would likely be hurtful to both him and my wife. I am trying to take the high road here and not be hurtful yet do what I feel I need to do to address this crappy situation…….

    • jewel

      This post is so good. I have come back to it again. I was slipping into the thoughts and feelings I had at the beginning of this ordeal. I have been giving power to the affair by imagining the validity of that relationship, when in truth, it has no basis in reality. It’s me that’s giving it power and life. Reading this post gives me strength and the realization that it’s ME that has the power. Once again, I feel more grounded. THANK YOU for being here. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without this site and the amazing honesty of your story.

    • chiffchaff

      This was a good article to re-read. Needed reminding about the realities (or not) of affairs and the CS.

    • Kaya48

      My husband ,now ex, was caught in an “emotional affair ” with a cop go worker. Let me tell you , an emotional affair is a physical affair in most cases. I finally had it and filed for divorce after 20 plus years of marriage. No one disrespects me like this , lies, cheats and then blames me. A cheater , emotional or physical , is a liar . Period. Instead of getting mad. I got even. I hired the best attorney and took him to court for everything he got. My life is happy and peaceful. Please that little minion can have him. Now that most of his income goes to me, the ex wife, he might not be that appealing anymore. Too bad, he made his bed and now he had to lay in it. No contact with him for almost 3 years and forever. I don’t have one ounce of support for cheaters or liars. That’s not what a marriage is about. It’s selfish and cowardly.

      • Untold

        Wow Kaya48 that is mighty! I admire your strength, fortitude and commitment to principle. I’ve been travelling a very rocky road to restoration with my CW for 3 years. Feel like I’m married to a 55 year old adolescent, waiting for her to grow up again. I think the cheating stopped long ago, but the disconnect and disrespect is discouraging. Maybe I’ll get kahonas like you one day and cut my losses.

    • Nyca

      Linda, I’ve read this post before in the five months since I discovered my husband’s 2-year affair by the OWs 78 Facebook posts documenting their multiple secret week-long road trips and secret meetups. But it was in my inbox this morning with your daily email (which always is exactly spot on like you are living in my house with me!), and it really resonated. Mostly because after me begging for months, my H has recently started coaching calls with Doug. That in itself is awesome. But I know that he is not being completely honest in his calls nor telling Doug everything that transpired during the two years, and for the first 6 weeks after discovery. Including his terrible comparisons of me to her and his refusal to end the relationship. He wanted to leave me for her and only after she ended it did he decide he wanted to work on saving us. Now he says it was just a friendship. Well, you don’t decide to leave your partner of 40 years for ‘just a friend’. In short, he is whitewashing the true story just as he has done with our adult sons and his friends. He has tried it with me too, but I won’t let him.

      At least now after a couple of coaching calls he says the affair isn’t my fault. Although the reason for it has gone from me not being fun enough, happy enough, or wanting to do everything he wanted to do – to he felt rejected by me. Which is just another way to blame me without directly blaming me. Baby steps.

      Thank you for reminding me that our 35 year marriage was not perfect before his affair. It sounds a lot like you described yours in your post. I had so much stonewalling. I was emotionally starved. I was very unhappy also, but I feel as if I will never be happy again regardless if I leave or if I stay.

      I guess my question is – he has made a tiny step in these past 5 months but to me it is not nearly big enough and I am tired of being the one dragging us through the wet sand to get through this. From your experience, When will I really know if he means it that he is trying, and will there be a time when there is a true breakthrough? Thank you so much for everything. You have truly been a lifeline.

    • Kathy

      My CH said it was just sex and no love involved. I’m having a hard time dealing with this. We just celebrated our 50th anniversary this year and to discover this affair by seeing xrated video and pictures on his phone. I confronted and he admitted it! She was a friend and my cleaning lady!! Seems whenever they were alone in the house, on the days I worked, they were having sex! I feel really stupid for not figuring this out sooner! It had been going on for 6 years!!

      • Shifting Impressions

        I’m so sorry you are going through this. Whether there was love involved or not….or if it was “just sex” is totally irrelevant!!! Betrayal is betrayal. Deceit is deceit!!! That is just his way of NOT BEING ACCOUNTABLE for his behavior!

        You have nothing to feel stupid about……you trusted. Why wouldn’t you trust. Of course you are having a hard time. My d-day came a few weeks before our fortieth anniversary. It’s a lifetime together. Your trust has been completely shattered. Don’t let him minimize what he has done.

        • Kathy

          He says it was all his fault and he is weak and feels ashamed .
          Says he never stopped loving me! Told him if that was true, he wouldn’t have done it! He wants to work it out and knows its going to take time. I couldn’t even look at him for days! Now he’s being overly attentive. I’m just not sure I can forget the images in my brain.

    • still struggling

      Linda, Thank You so much for this reminder. Even after 33 years, some days the pain is just as fresh as when it happened. It’s hard not to go down that rabbit hole, especially since it’s only been 4 years since he’s been actually willing to deal with it. Sometimes I pat myself on the back for my patience and my commitment to my marriage paying off and sometimes I kick myself for allowing what happened to have kept us in a state of limbo for so long.
      A family crisis is what brought all our troubles front and center and propelled us to face our issues. Not sure if it was a blessing in disguise or not, but it changed the whole dynamics of how I see things. Not sure if it was a Blessing in disguise or not, but every day I thank God I’m still here and ask him for guidance for us to keep moving forward. Most days for me are good, not really good or perfect, but compared to before they are better, and some days are bad, not really bad or terrible, but not as broken.

    • Talha Ubaidullah

      Jazakallah. I completely agree with your assessment of the article. It provides crucial advice for individuals dealing with affairs, stressing the need to stay grounded, prioritize self-esteem, and seek self-improvement while working through the complexities of a troubled relationship.

    • Nicole

      Three things I did to empower myself.
      1. I started walking my dog every day while listening to the podcast “The Empowered Wife”. I also listened to the audiobook by the same name while in my car and on daily walks.
      2. I focused on self-care and yoga with Adrian on YouTube every morning. She’s gentle and kind and only 20 minutes. I felt better and stood up taller. I’m now empowered, and flexible mentally and physically and I’m over 50 years, old. Say it with me. “I am strong”.
      3. I decided that I was going to be okay no matter what he decided to do. I’m going to take care of myself as if I was a small child. I became empowered with the skills I was learning from The Empowered Wife and could use those tools any time I wanted. I also gave myself grace knowing that I’m a mere mortal woman, but I’m worthy of respect.

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