Affair relapse is a common thing, but it doesn’t have to be inevitable.

affair relapse

By Doug

I’ve never really kept track of the numbers, but I’m guessing that well over 50% of the mentoring ‘cases’ I’ve been involved with experience an affair relapse. 

Here’s a typical scenario…

“I caught my wife cheating on me 6 weeks ago. She stopped the affair immediately, telling me that she loves me and wants to work on our marriage.  Since then I have found out she has been lying and has resumed the affair with him again. I know she does want to quit but is having a hard time.”

I hear this sort of story on a daily basis.  Usually it’s from the standpoint of the betrayed spouse, but often it’s the unfaithful person too.

In a past post I addressed the 5 phases that an unfaithful person goes through once the affair is discovered, and I offered my opinion that it most often occurs in Phase Two:

“Phase Two:  The ‘I Need a Fix’ Phase 

More commonly referred to as the withdrawal stage.  This is where the affair has ended by some means and the cheater is in a funk.  They are missing their affair partner and are feeling the effects of being cut off from the ‘high’ that the AP provided.  I believe this is the phase where most relapses occur. In this phase the cheater may experience the following:

  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Blame
  • Depression
  • Easily shuts down during discussions and/or arguments
  • Reminiscence
  • Emotionally withdrawing/distancing
  • Ambivalence
  • Missing/longing for their affair partner. They feel they need to contact the AP.
  • Quiet – not talkative”

Indeed, affair relapse is a common thing, but it is inevitable?

Well, obviously not all situations and people are the same, so it’s impossible to really know for sure.  But here are a few things that the unfaithful could do to perhaps lessen the possibility of an affair relapse.  (Note: I’m not referring to serial cheating.)

4 Ways to Help Ensure There Isn’t an Affair Relapse:

Don’t Just Wing It  

You need an affair recovery plan. And a good starting place for that plan in my opinion is to really know why you are doing it. Why is affair recovery and/or saving your marriage so important to you (or your spouse)?  If you do not know the Why’s, you may not be (remain) motivated enough and will tend to slip back into old habits and tendencies. You need at least one compelling, motivating reason why you want to go through this.   

It’s like trying to lose weight.  If you are trying to lose weight so that you look better in a suit or a dress, you might not be motivated enough to follow through with your weight loss program.  However, if your motivations for losing weight are that you will have a heart attack and die if you don’t, then that might be the motivation you need to follow through.

The same goes for preventing an affair relapse.  You have to know why you are going through the affair recovery process.  You need to look at yourself and really determine your motivations.  Are they strong enough to keep you going?  I believe that it has to be more specific than “so I can save my marriage.”  And your reasons may change over time – which is not a bad thing, by the way. 

Getting Over an Affair: Dealing With Affair Withdrawal

In addition to knowing your affair recovery motivations, your recovery plan should be specific to infidelity and include strategies that address such things as:

  • Introspection and self-discovery to understand why the affair happened
  • Individual and couples therapy when the time is appropriate 
  • Putting in place certain boundaries and guidelines so that an affair doesn’t happen again in the future
  • An agreement with the betrayed spouse on what to do in case of unintended contact with the ex-affair partner.

Having a plan is great and all, but it also requires that the unfaithful follow through and actually work the plan as diligently as possible.

Remove the Temptation and Opportunity

An alcoholic can’t go into a bar without being tempted to drink.  So, why would it make sense for an unfaithful person to feel that they can “still be friends” with their affair partner, or that they will not be tempted if they continue to work with that person?

Likewise, you (or your spouse) cannot carry on in such a way that provides you ample opportunity, which is an often overlooked and underestimated risk factor for an affair relapse.

Lynn Margolies, PhD says that…

“Opportunity poses the most danger when people:

  • are not onto themselves and fail to accurately assess their vulnerability to acting on temptation;
  • fail to consciously register the potential affair partner’s intentions;
  • do not make an explicit decision, or plan, to protect themselves from acting out.

Taking steps to remove temptation and close the door securely protects the unfaithful spouse from continued secret contact during the chaotic transition out of the affair relationship. The unfaithful spouse not only feels guilty about having the affair, but often feels torn and guilty about ending the affair relationship. During the goodbye process, he or she is prone to give the affair partner mixed signals, even if unconsciously.

In ending an affair, the unfaithful spouse often suffers grief, feelings of loss and preoccupation with the affair partner. These feelings may need to be processed in the context of therapy where the function and meaning of the affair can be understood, rather than acted upon. Successful endings of affairs typically do not involve processing feelings with the affair partner because the likelihood of doing so will further intensify the attachment and lead to re-engagement. If there is something else that needs to be said, it should be with the spouse’s full awareness and consent.

People who have difficulty emotionally letting go of the affair partner even after having cut off contact usually are continuing the relationship in their minds through remembering and fantasizing. Fantasy provides the fuel for affairs — leading up to them, perpetuating them, and then making it difficult to back away or let go. Swept away by the addictive, intoxicating power of the “rush,” romantic fantasy and infatuation is confused with the complexity of intimate relationships and real life. The failure to believe that one is caught in a fantasy drives the process, leading to the false belief that this feeling is sustainable and a rigged comparison with a marital relationship.”

No Contact.  Forever.  Period. 

I could have included this under the temptation heading but I wanted to make it separate so as to emphasize it more.

Lynn Margolies says, “An affair that is suddenly exposed or ends poses a particular risk situation for a vulnerable marriage with an unfaithful spouse. Feelings of loss, conflict and pressure can make it difficult to let go of the illicit relationship, compounding the lure that led to the affair in the first place.

Effectively establishing closure with the affair partner — including ceasing all contact — helps guard against relapse.  It’s also an important beginning gesture toward restoring trust in the marriage. This is not the time to rely on good intentions and discipline alone.”

As I’ve stated in the past…When I ended my affair, I did so cold-turkey and have not had any sort of contact whatsoever since.  I sincerely believe it was a vital element for me to quickly move through the withdrawal phase and toward commitment to the recovery process.

But I realize that others may struggle with doing it this way.  The person with an addictive personality will struggle.  Those who were in a long-term affair will probably struggle.  Those who had their affair end abruptly will probably struggle.

But I can tell you, no contact – whether direct or indirect – is a must. 

So, it should go without saying that there can be no texting, calling, WhatsApp-ing, Facebook messaging, etc.  But also, no reading old letters, texts or emails.  Stop staring at his/her picture or stalking the person on social media.  Toss out any gifts or anything else that can remind you of your affair partner.  Any reluctance to do so will only keep you mired in a funk and keep the affair fantasy alive.

Cold turkey, one day at a time. It works.


Get Support 

One of the things I truly wished I would have done when we were going through this was to talk to a trusted friend, expert or another person going through the same thing.  It would have been nice to have their objective advice on direction, for accountability and to bounce thoughts and ideas off of, among other things.  I feel it would have made things so much less uncertain and chaotic, and would have stopped me from screwing up as much.

To think that you can depend on your own ability to figure things out and help yourself, your spouse, and your marriage at the same time – is kind of crazy.  Most of the unfaithful people who have just ended their affair are of no mind to help heal their partner or marriage – at least not right away. 

Though we (as the unfaithful) did create this whole shit-storm, usually we are unable to figure it out or fix it on our own.  We need to be able to understand ourselves and the situation better.  It’s vital for us to gain vastly more knowledge on a variety of relationship issues. We need to know what the hell to do. We need help.  To think otherwise is not realistic – to put it mildly.    

And down the road, you may find yourself falling back into bad habits.  You may find yourself slacking off on your recovery plan and other relationship patterns that could possibly lead you to an affair relapse.   It’s a typical struggle for anyone.  But it’s at those times when you need to dig deep and utilize any ammo in your arsenal that can help prevent you from relapsing. That can include talking to your spouse, your therapist and your support/accountability person – among other things.

As they say, “It takes a village.”

Blueprint for Preventing Affair Relapse

Here are some recommendations that can help couples work together to lessen the chances of an affair relapse:

  1. Build Openness: Work on being completely open with each other. This means being honest about where you are, who you’re with, and how you’re feeling. It’s also about trusting each other with your phones and personal stuff because real trust means no secrets.
  2. Strengthen Emotional Ties: Make time to really talk and listen to each other about your dreams, worries, and daily life. This deep connection can help you feel closer to each other and less likely to look for that closeness with someone else.
  3. Create Healthy Boundaries: Decide together what’s okay and what’s not when it comes to other people who might be a bit too tempting. This isn’t about controlling each other; it’s about keeping your relationship safe.
  4. Get Help When You Need It: Sometimes you need a pro to help you work through tough stuff. Going to therapy, alone or together, can help you understand why the affair happened and how to deal with the tough times.
  5. Find Fun Things to Do Together: Pick up hobbies or activities that you’re both into. This can help you make good new memories and feel closer to each other.
  6. Check in With Each Other: Regularly talk about how your relationship is doing. Praise the good stuff and work on the things that need to get better. This helps you both stay focused on making things better.
  7. Recommit to Each Other: When you’re ready, think about renewing your promises to each other or making new ones. This is a powerful way to remind yourselves of the love and commitment you have.
  8. Know Your Weak Spots: Be aware of what might tempt you to slip back into old, harmful patterns. Work out a plan together for how to handle these triggers in a positive way.
  9. Take Care of Yourself: Support each other in doing things that keep you feeling good, like hobbies or exercise. When you feel good about yourself, you bring that goodness into your relationship.
  10. Build Trust With Your Actions: Small things like being on time and doing what you say you’ll do are big when it comes to rebuilding trust.
  11. Celebrate Your Progress: Don’t forget to recognize and celebrate the steps you’ve taken to get past the affair. This keeps you hopeful and reminds you both how far you’ve come.
  12. Have a Support Network: Lean on friends and family who want to see your marriage succeed. Having people to support you can give you extra strength when you need it.
  13. Deal With Disagreements in a Good Way: Learn how to talk through disagreements without hurting each other. Letting things fester can make you both feel distant and unhappy.
  14. Rebuilding Your Physical Bond: When you’re both comfortable, take it slow to rediscover physical closeness. It’s an important step in getting past the affair and rebuilding something special between you. Be patient with each other and move forward with kindness and understanding.

Remember that getting over infidelity isn’t a straight path and you are going to hit some bumps along the way. But every effort you make to strengthen your relationship helps protect against slipping back into old habits. 

Please share your thoughts on this and whether there were certain things that helped – or didn’t help – you or your spouse from having an affair relapse. Thanks!

*Article originally posted 4/23/2019 and updated 11/14/2023

    44 replies to "Will I (Or My Spouse) Have An “Affair Relapse?”"

    • Exercisegrace

      The one thing I have to be grateful for about my husband’s affair was that he ended it a year before (although they still worked together) his whore ratted it out. So…… lucky me! I got to skip any angst or grieving he may have done. Because I’m not sure I would have dealt well with having salt poured in my wounds.

      When we went to one of our first counseling sessions (before the whore went full frontal psycho), my husband commented that he felt bad for causing “everyone” pain. Wait what??? He felt bad for hurting his affair partner?? After I said that our counselor said “well isn’t that the type of man you want to be married to?”. I began to laugh. And laugh. And laugh. NOPE. I remember saying that the only person deserving of his sympathy was me. The only person he needed to hold any guilt for was….again, ME. I didn’t choose to have my life, marriage, family, finances and health violated. Nobody asked me if it was okay for him to indulge in an affair. I told him that the two of them chose everything they did. Eyes wide open. They CHOSE. I didn’t get the luxury of a say in it. His whore knew she was pursuing a married man with four kids. She knew it was unlikely that he would leave us for her. If I robbed a bank, I would not expect anyone’s pity as I sat in jail. I chose the actions fully knowing the potential consequences.

      Far too often, cheating spouses want their feelings considered in the immediate aftermath. They want sympathy. This isn’t surprising given the incredibly narcissistic thinking it takes to have an affair in the first place. CS who are ultimately successful in marriage recovery are the ones who can put their own needs on the back burner, and who are willing to look deeply into the abyss of themselves to understand the things that drove their bad choices to begin with.

    • Kittypone

      This is one of the reasons why I am having such a hard time trusting my H again……I can’t GUARANTEE that he hasn’t contacted the harlot ever again; that SHE hasn’t tried to contact him (she broke it off between them); that he isn’t thinking on the “what if’s” they could’ve consummated their relationship (they never met face to face, it started on Facebook and progressed to phone calls pics and naked videos) soooooo……all this to say…… IT’S BEEN 2 YEARS AND I STILL CAN’T TRUST HIM ANY FARTHER THAN I CAN THROW HIM …….am I in the wrong for feeling this way? We are STILL in couples therapy and seem to be making some progress, but I just want to be free of pain and hurt and anger and rage……tell me it DOES stop at some point, please…..anybody???

      • Doug

        Kittypone, there is no right or wrong way to feel. If you can’t trust him, you can’t trust him. There must be a reason why that is. I’m guessing because he’s not exhibiting trustworthy type behaviors like honesty, transparency, not being defensive, etc.

        • Kittypone

          Thanks, Doug for taking the time to answer yourself to my plea……you just said it: he is antsy when it comes to sharing passwords to his devices (he doesn’t share any of them. Period.) he becomes highly defensive about protecting his “privacy” and how I shouldn’t be all over his case over it because he never snoops around my devices and “trusts” me to be an adult and not do to him what he did to me…..I couldn’t swear on a Bible that he is still involved with that harlot, but just last night he asked me why I don’t let my hair grow long (I wear a pixie-type of style) and of course, ALL my triggers went off (the harlot has really long, silky type of hair) and I asked him if he wanted me to resemble someone in particular and he said no, he’s always liked long hair so I told him to let his own hair grow long, then!!! I got SO angry because i TOLD him how offended I felt,….I asked for an apology, and he told me that I couldn’t force him to apologize to me, so I guess that whatever little progress we had made, it’s down the drain……I gotta go, there’s an appointment with the barbershop I have to make today…..

          • Doug

            Kittypone, your husband’s remarks are a bunch of crap. In my opinion, a person who won’t willingly share his devices and uses the ‘privacy’ defense, is hiding something. It might not be related to an affair, but he’s hiding something nonetheless. Basically, it is not a trustworthy type of behavior – which sends your radar through the roof. HA! Love that you told him to let HIS hair grow. Good stuff!

            • Kittypone

              Doug…….He SWEARS by all that’s holy that he’s not hiding anything, but his demeanor just says the opposite!! I decided not to be hyper vigilant anymore for my own sanity, but I swear to you, that I no longer feel any kind of love for this man….I feel irritated with his mannerisms (which only slightly bothered me before) I feel so often that his intellect is below mine; I no longer miss him if we are apart for a length of time…….I’m praying with all I’ve got for God to return the feelings I once felt for my husband, or I don’t see this marriage surviving in the long run….

            • Doug

              Listen to EG…Trust your gut!

      • Exercisegrace

        Kittypone. Here’s the thing about affair recovery. As the betrayed spouse, YOU get to make the rules. When my husband’s affair was outted by his whore, he said he regretted it and would do anything to stay in the marriage. I gave him my list of “deal breakers”. This included him shutting down his Facebook account, giving me the passwords to ALL of his accounts, and full access to his phone (texts, emails, etc). I also gave him all of my passwords. The ONE exception was my exercisegrace account that I use to participate in certain online support groups.

        If there is ONE thing I have learned? Trust your gut. If something feels off? Something IS OFF. Over a year after dday, I kept saying something was wrong. I was still being lied to. Even our therapist began to gently suggest I was struggling with trust because he SWORE he had disclosed everything. Wrong. His whore used a fake social media account to deliver a fresh attack. He had to admit things he had withheld, or outright lied about. That led to me scheduling a marathon counseling session that I gave him one week to prepare for. I told him I would be asking questions, and he would be giving the full truth. Anything less and we would part ways. His choice. It was a turning point for me. I finally took agency in my recovery. I finally took back the CONTROL that two slimy cheaters had held over me for so long. Recovery is long, hard, messy work. It is a journey and not a destination. Seven years in? It’s much easier. The triggers are so much fewer. My ability to brush them off is so much stronger. This will never entirely go away. I will have reminders. I have accepted that and it helps. I no longer see myself as having “failed” at reconciliation because I have the occasional bad day or a rough trigger.

        • Kittypone

          Thing is right now, I don’t even FEEL like investing much of myself anymore…..I’m just going with the flow, and whatever happens, happens….all the fight has gone out of me and I don’t even think that I can muster the energy to be jealous of that harlot…..I screamed at him a couple of months ago to “just give me the damn reason to leave you” !!! if he was still keeping it up with that harlot…..but I feel like I don’t even CARE anymore…..and that truly scares me….

          • Hopeful

            I agree with EG. Also I remember my therapist saying my husband has zero trust, zero freedom and zero rights. He had all the freedom and ability to control his own destiny and he threw it out the window. So now it is what I need and want as the number one priority if he wants to try to save the marriage or even figure that out. It is impossible to do that if either party is not invested. I remember early on talking with my husband and about how love is not a feeling but a verb. I think in our society people get caught up in a feeling. But it is about your actions. And what I did was to watch if my husband’s actions matched his words. Hang in there!

            • Kittypone

              Hopeful… really are an example of your screen name….you give me hope (I know, my hope really should be in Jesus, but you know what I mean) and reading your words gives me just a bit of traction to keep trying a bit longer…..thank you for that….

            • Hopeful and Optimistic

              Kittypone, the advice given so far is right on target, trust your gut, if you are going to work on your marriage, transparency is a must, without it recovery is near to impossible. To go along with your comment about not having the energy to invest in your marriage, I was at the same place a little under 5 years ago. Just a little back story on me, my wife had an affair and told me about it on Christmas night, things were rough with us for a number of months, we had our up and downs, but things seems to be progressing in the right direction. It wasn’t until about month 6 that I noticed she was less open about things and my gut was saying that something was wrong. After this point, our relationship deteriorated to the point when you are now. I was exhausted mentally, I had all but given up hope that our marriage would survive. It was at this time that I reminded my wife that she had agreed to give me her password to her work email, she pushed back and said that she didn’t know why I needed this, and that she might get in trouble if she gave me this. Ultimately she didn’t give me her password instead she wanted to open her work email and just show me that there were no emails from this person, which there weren’t, it was only when I asked her to put in this persons name in the email search bar that an email popped up that my wife had sent only hours before, but had not deleted yet. Needless to say I was done, we happened to be on vacation when this happened. I told her she no longer got to choose whether we stayed together or not, I was going back home and filing for divorce. The reason I bring this up, it was only after the affair was exposed and my wife said she wanted to save our marriage, that I watched to see if her action matched her words. We talked for a while and she told me everything, she answered every question, some she questioned whether I really wanted to know and if I did, she told me.. It wasn’t until this point that I saw her as being truly honest, and like your therapist said, I knew she was being honest. It was this honesty and transparency that gave me the energy and hope to also fight for my marriage, I share this because, that was almost 5 years ago and we are still married and doing great. Was it all easy going after that, no it has been a long road and a roller coaster of ups and downs, but it was worth it and we are miles away from where we were that day. I truly pray for you to be able to get the answers and honesty you are seeking.

    • Miserable1

      I’m sorry to say that I am almost to the 3 year mark and I still feel all those emotions and they seem to be getting worse as more time goes by.

      • Doug

        Hi Miserable 1, I’m sorry that things are not going well. Can you perhaps share a little more about what’s going on so we can better help you? Thanks!

    • Confused

      A little over a year since I discovered my wife’s emotional affair. Says she didn’t have sex with him, (we all work for the same agency), and he denies any sexual contact. Sexting, oh yeah, I have the actual text messages! We made progress until today. Seems her confidant hooked up and had sex with him. This pissed her off! When I confronted her, I had to pry it out of her that it pissed her off! We both agreed no more secrets, and to let one another know if something has upset them. Well, trust that had built up, GONE! Do I start over, do I cut and run, what?!? Confused as all get out right now!

      • Doug

        Confused, only you can determine if it’s time to cut and run, but it would seem that since you just made this new agreement, you might want to give it a chance to see how it works out. And you might want to start it off by letting her know just how deeply this event has upset you. Perhaps addressing this issue of her being pissed off (and why) more in depth might be worthwhile as well.

    • TryingHard

      This was an obsession for me for the first 3 years into recovery and reconciliation. I was obsessed with him secretly contacting her again or she him. I became pretty good with gps, key loggers, apps etc to see what he was doing and where he was going. Never saw anything. Now that could have been a fools paradise. Maybe my skills weren’t good enough. Maybe i interpreted the data wrongly. So i stopped.

      I fact there is NO guarantee. Nor will there ever be a guarantee. I finally had to settle and accept that i already knew all i needed to know.

      I never saw any sadness or regret about breaking off with the OW. But i never saw anything different with him during the affair Had i seen him missing her or being down in the dumps about it i think that would have been enough. The line in the sand. Never saw it. Not sure if he experienced it or not.

      The thing that convinced me i would know was a reassurance from my therapist. She assured me I’d know. That my senses were hyper vigilant and I’d see the signs if there were a next time. I think she was right.

      One ting i def know, he can and is perfectly capable of doing it again. Whether he will or not remains a risk i take

      • Hopeful

        TH, I was the same. My skills were honed. I felt like I was a private detective. Looking back I think it was a phase/process I had to go through. I turned up things he had forgotten but most of the time it was nothing. I finally got to a point where I gave up. I was honestly thinking of putting a tracking device on his car. I was studying battery life etc. And one day it hit me. I cannot continue living this way. I was driving myself crazy. And as I thought about it I was not actually stopping anything from happening. With technology it was possible he could find a way without me knowing. In the end I came to the realization he has to want to stop and not do it again. And I cannot control that. I can be aware, vigilant and invest in myself and our relationship. She have pretty strong boundaries and expectations still to this day.

        My therapist said the same thing. That I would know. My husband said the same thing too. If I have a question about anything at all my husband wants me to asks and is not defensive. He wants me to look at his phone whenever without notice. He said he has never slept this good in his entire life. He said his head hits the pillow and he actually likes himself. I agree though it is possible it could happen again even though he says never even if we were not together. He said he hated his life so much he would never do that again. He loves being authentic. We do talk about it as time goes by and things evolve. It does come up in conversation and discussions. It is not lost on him at all.

    • Confused

      I should probably clarify something, we agreed no secrets when the affair was discovered and I had to pry that out of her.

      • Hopeful

        I can only speak to my experience but honestly it was a roller coaster after dday. Nothing seemed as open, honest and transparent as I was expecting. That was over 4 years ago now. If I bring up something my husband said that first year after dday he does not remember most of the time. Or he also now sees it all different and at times is confused or disgusted by what he said. I think he was treading water and just trying to keep forward progress. For us he broke up with both ow 15 months before dday. So in a way he was ahead of the game since he decided he was done having affairs. However the burden of the shame and guilt has taken a lot longer for him to deal with. The first year was all about me facing the pain, hurt, upset and realization of what happened. At a year I was starting to stabilize. I focused more on myself individually. That was when my husband started to cope with what he did. During that first year we set very structured boundaries and expectations so it was not that stuff was happening. However at a year he started to finally look inward. Up until then he spent so much time supporting me and helping me through.

        Saying all of that it was a total roller coaster. Things would feel great and then all of a sudden not. And that was without him not meeting the expectations or boundaries set. There was a time where things felt too good, too normal. It felt like pre dday. That sent me over the edge.

        I agree with Doug that only you know if it is time to move on. I spent a lot of time with a therapist who specializes in infidelity. It was amazing and what I needed. It was a space just for me and gave me the support I needed. I am happy to share more and answer questions. I don’t want to go on too long. But honestly what she expressed and hiding it I can see as potentially being somewhat normal. Not ideal but normal. One good read is Masters of Love in The Atlantic by John Gottman. It is a great magazine article that really hit home for us early on in that first year.

    • Dawn

      I discovered my H affair one week after V-day. She “broke it off” for like 2 secs. He was not willing to. We started marriage counseling. Found out he was still contacting her. But not seeing her face to face. He started off by saying he didn’t love her and wanted me. But then moved to saying he was confused and the affair was my fault. He’s still blaming me. But has moved to saying he wants a divorce so he can be with her. She is also married. He’s not willing to start the divorce process. He has also not yet asked her if she plans to leave her husband. We are now separated. i couldn’t take hearing that being with me was like cheating on his AP.

      Knowing all that, I wonder what the percentage is that he or she will have an affair on each other?? I have twin 6YO boys to consider. I don’t want them around her. She left her own kids with her ex when he couldn’t take anymore of her cheating.

    • Fractured heart, wounded beat

      I have been visiting this site often since I had my first DDay on February 10th. I was gifted with a second DDay on March 16th. My third DDay was on April 30th. We have been married for 18.5 years and together 24 years. My husband knowingly violated our agreement and lied about having contact that HE INITIATED with the OW (who he works with). My immediate reaction was to say, ENOUGH! I cannot take anymore (as I’ve said many times when talking about any contact after the second DDay). I told him it was done. Hoping to give him a reality check, I explained the logistics of divorcing at this point with so many comingled finances, the kids, belongings, living situation, etc.

      We are planning to tell our children we are separating tonight. However, I have started asking more questions of my husband and now am concerned that he is STILL in the affair fog. Particularly, this article states the most intense withdrawal is in the first 3 weeks and more difficult for those who have an addictive personality and when the affair was ended suddenly. Based on my calculations, he has never made it beyond 3 weeks before reestablishing contact, has an addictive personality, and the first two episodes were ended abruptly when I found out. He claims that he thinks this is real, romantic love and he cannot stay away from her. He said most recently that it is deeper than I understand and he cannot have a life without her in it.

      I am so distraught about what this will do to our kids (10 and 14). He’s in denial about how this will affect them in the short-term and long-term. He thinks that if its handled well, the kids will be just fine. (Our daughter KNOWS what he did)

      I explained to him that if he falls on his face, I will no longer be his home base or safe place to fall. That is over.

      Although I feel some optimism at the idea of being on my own and having some closure over this disaster made of my life by his selfish choices, this is a permanent move and I am not sure he is feeling what he thinks he is. Karma does have a nice ring to it, don’t get me wrong, but after all these years…..REALLY??….this is going to be what ends it?

      I drew a line in the sand and he happily danced over it, in my estimation, to force my hand since he’s too much of a coward to end it himself. I had a moment of the control and self-respect I have been lacking for nearly 3 months since I was blindsided by his affair and in truth, I don’t know that I can go back and ever have trust after all these lies and broken promises.

      We’ve had some deep conversations and made better emotional connections through this but my radar goes up that something isn’t right every time contact is reestablished and then things get much darker. Eventually, he comes clean. I just cannot stay on this roller coaster. It’s like he’s two different people and I’m not sure where the man I actually loved is anymore.

      I feel confident that this will all fall apart when reality enters the picture but I cannot wait around for that. He seems pretty sure this is the love of a lifetime and he just cannot stay away. This affair has turned him into a bumbling idiot! (By the way, this woman is OLDER than I am, divorced after being cheated on by her inattentive husband, and was married the exact same amount of time, divorcing at the same age I am now! She has displayed some bunny boiler tendencies but that seems to die down when he willingly jumps back on the hook.)

      So many years of my life wasted on this man…..I just cannot ride this out.

      • Healing heart

        To Fractured Heart- I feel your pain as you sound like I did 3 years ago. I felt as if I was married to Jekyll and Hyde and neither was acting like my husband of 31 years! I said/did a lot of the same things as you as I anxiously waited for the very real affair fog to clear. I held firm on “this is your affair and if you want to leave-there is the door as I’m not divorcing you”. It was unbelievably tough as you well know and there were so many times that I wanted to give up and change the locks. But through lots of prayer and personal counseling I survived it. He never had the courage to leave, the fog finally went away and he finally began the walk of shame back to our life. It is so not an easy road back but it is possible if all parties finally shape up and fly right by doing all the work that must be done to recover. You will never get over the trauma and hurt but you will recover whether he stays or leaves and be stronger for it. Another thought that I had was that regardless of his decision to stay or go I would always have the history of his affair and all the crap that went along with it so either way that memory was going to be there so I put it in God’s hands and rode it out. I survived, he survived, we survived and are now moving forward into our relationship together in a good way. Bottom line, your message really touched my heart and I wanted you to know that many people have been where you are and we made it through. You will be healthy again regardless of his decisions. Take it one day, one hour at a time. Prayers and blessings to you and your family.

      • Hopeful

        Fractured, I am so sorry you are here. This is a really hard and long road. I am over four years past dday. I never thought I would make it through it. I had no idea how I was going to do it. You have to do what is right for you. I would say you are really early on in this process. It honestly took me the entire first year to process. Once I was in a better spot my husband finally started processing what he had done. It honestly hit him harder than me which was a big surprise. We did not have much affair fog since he broke everything off 15 months before dday. But if I tell him things he said during those first 6-12 months he has no recollection. My husband has talked about it and basically he was trying to make things better but not say the wrong thing to upset me, make things worse etc.

        My only suggestion for you is to think about what you want. Do you want to leave/separate or try to reconcile/work through it. Neither road is right/wrong/easy. When I was in the thick of it I just focused on the day I was on. I tried not to look back or forward. I could not change the past and thinking about the future was too much. Also I would suggest seeing a therapist for you and your kids. No matter what happens having that support is so valuable.

      • Better days


        Your marriage is already over, he destroyed it and is not showing any signs of rebuilding a new one. Get yourself out of this mess. The kids aren’t being done any favors by being in this environment watching their mother take this tx from a sorry excuse of a man. You have your whole life for him to earn you back(don’t hold your breath on that one). You are showing him time and again that there is no real “line in the sand.” Stop listening to anything coming out of his mouth. Stop making excuses. Time to take action.

        • Fractured heart, wounded beat

          Better days,

          I’ll admit, your comment seemed quite harsh to me at first. I even read it to my H and he took umbrage at the “sorry excuse for a man” comment. However, you were right.

          First, I want to say that he has given much lip service to fixing our marriage, treating me differently, acknowledging what he’s done over the years and in the affair. He read books, did a mentoring session with Doug (and lied to him too), and invited God into his life. He cried repeatedly as he apologized and talked about how much he hated himself for what he’d done. He said he regretted everything and wished it had never happened. After so many years, it still amazes me that this man is such a skilled liar that he can lie to my face and be so convincing (with a pinch of truth bias on my part early on). He was not lying in many of those exchanges until the thoughts and feelings started again and he kept them secret in direct opposition to the plan we’d made together. Secrets have power. I knew something was different, even when he assured me over and over that was not the case.

          I am absolutely not defending him but perhaps myself. I’m not an idiot (although I’ve apparently been sleeping next to one for 24 years). He put me through hell for three months because he was conflicted. We have a life together, kids, everything. We’ve been together more than half our lives. It’s astounding that he actually thinks this relationship built on lies, betrayal, and pain to so many others is the real thing. But he does…. He’s out and I told him this door is closed to him forever.

          He’s been a good father and promises he still will be but he’s incredibly unrealistic about how many hours are in a day. He also has no idea how this will impact him financially because he hasn’t paid a bill in nearly 20 years. Chances are good that he’ll eventually realize this was nothing but a selfish, fog induced mistake. Whatever. My kids are strong and we’ve formed our own team. They’re sad and hurt, as am I, but we’re supporting each other.

          One part of this that is incredibly difficult is reconciling how this man could be so different all at once and actually leave all of us. Who does that? I told him how badly this will affect our kids and how much this one decision would increase their risk for so many negative outcomes. Even after our daughter wrote him a letter about how much she wanted to hate him for breaking our family and asking why he would do this, he left. Even after I told him she WILL hate him before long, especially when she finds out he’ll be living with a girl of the same age, playing daddy to her after leaving his own daughter, he left.

          My daughter told me I was different already, a good different, and my kids wanted to sleep in my bed last night so we’d all be together. We’ll be fine, eventually, but this part is hard. It’s hard to fathom all the projects we were planning for, the future, just vaporized. I don’t understand how all of this, all of us, suddenly mean so much less to him since this whore gave him attention and made him feel like a real man. ???? He isn’t who I thought he was, who our kids thought he was, and he certainly isn’t good enough for any of us. As my sister so eloquently stated, “Enjoy your demise, douche!”

          • Kittypone

            I didn’t think my heart could stand any more heartbreak, but I was wrong…..reading your comment, my heart broke for you… will never cease to amaze me how some “men” will happily trade their own children and raise someone else’s like they’re baseball cards…..may karma dish her best (and her worst) being the bitch she is, I’m getting my popcorn ready for what is coming to them bastards!!! I wish you peace, many blessings and the strength only God can grant….

          • Hopeful

            So sorry for all you are facing. It sounds like you are on a good path and your kids are lucky to have you. You are creating the most possible stable situation for them. All I can say is I think for a wayward spouse to reconcile, change, come back from betrayal they have to transform and change themselves to a whole new level. There are many hard things people face in life. This is something only they can do. No matter how much we want it for them, their kids, family, friends etc they have to want to do it themselves and then take action. From what I have watched with my own husband this is not an easy process. Just from my observations someone who was able to betray their wife/person they love most in the world, family/kids etc to have to face all that they did in that process is next to impossible for some. It really is a transformation of self. It has been 4 1/2 years since dday and I in many ways feel like I am married to a different person in a good way. It has taken a long time and much longer than it took me to go through this recovery process. It makes sense considering all that he did and convinced himself of through the “affair years”. Best wishes for continued forward progress.

      • Broken

        I’m so sorry you went t through that. I’m going through the same right now. I’m 10 weeks in and the pain in unbearable. The difference is I am done with him. Barely any contact apart from kids and finances. He has said he’s not happy and agreed with me when I said so the grass isn’t greener then? Also now says they’re just friends and aren’t together. This is all bullshit. He is knocking at the door to come back. He knows that door is firmly closed but can’t come begging due to his ego and the fact he CANNOT be alone. How are you now? How did it all work out for you? Did he not last with her?

        • Fractured heart, wounded beat


          He moved out and stayed with that thing for two months. Took a vacation together. Played house. Then the fog cleared and he ended it. She then really showed her true colors.

          He was transformed through this and we have healed our marriage and ourselves. It’s been over three years since he returned and we are doing well.

          Rereading my posts from the thick of it is interesting and I am again grateful for those who remain here and help the ones that are fresh to this pain and betrayal. Although you didn’t give a lot of detail in this post, I can only say that it is a hugely personal decision as to whether a marriage is salvageable after infidelity. No one else knows your history, investment, or potential. However, my sister gave me a little truth that I think applies. You said the pain was unbearable. That means you still care. When you are DONE, you are indifferent.

          When facing such an emotionally devastating experience, it is easier, almost necessary in fact, to take a strong stance of “the door is permanently closed”. That’s rarely how one actually feels. Had I stuck with that when the fog was really gone, I would’ve missed out on a much better marriage than I’d had in all those years before infidelity. My kids would’ve missed out on having a more engaged dad present for their milestones (they are both teens now and our daughter just graduated from high school).

          However, that was my path and it required me to forgive when he was GENUINELY REMORSEFUL,REPENTANT, AND READY TO CHANGE. Not immediate forgiveness but to open myself up to it in time. And he had to put up with a lot as I walked that road toward forgiveness. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. It took me about 15 months after he returned before I turned a significant corner — until then, I was very emotionally fragile. There are still of days when I’m disconcerted by some circumstance.

          This whole situation is INCREDIBLY UNFAIR but you’re in it, as many of us have been over the years. You can’t undo it, and neither can he. Trust me that he will come out of the fog and realize this is all his doing. You just have to decide if the foundation, the love you had for one another before all this junk, is enough to take a chance on a new marriage (if he actually is remorseful and repentant).

          But you’re early on. For now, focus on your life as it is now. I’m not sure how old your kids are but one of the best things I did was take my kids on a week-long road trip. It gave me hope. It made me feel competent. I rearranged the house. I redecorated in small ways. I made the environment my own. I moved on in my mind even before I really was ready. But I was choosing for myself.

          I’m not sure if any of that helps but I do wish you peace, clarity, and discernment as you navigate this….. pardon me…..mindf@<%, because that's what it is. ❤🙏

          • Broken

            Wow, thank you for your reply. That’s amazing that you were able to heal and come back together.
            I think the difference is that my husband whilst knowing he f@&$ed up and even saying so, the attitude is still one of belligerence and defensiveness. He cannot put his ego aside to be truly sorry or show the appropriate remorse. Doesn’t want to say those words and ask for forgiveness cause he said he doesn’t want to feel rejected! What a laugh right? When he literally rejected his entire family. Is he still in the fog? He’s isn’t particularly trying to stop the separation of assets process either so I think he knows the writings on the wall.
            He says he didn’t reject his kids, but he did, that’s a choice he made when he knew what he was doing that he wouldn’t be there ever again to do the day to day things with them. I spoke to him for over an hour on the phone today and it seems that he’s still tethered to me, which is only natural after 26 years togther, our entire adult life since teenagers.
            But the difference is, whilst he’s been gone, I’ve been reading, reading reading and listening to podcasts and YouTube videos and going to therapy to understand this and improve myself and my understanding. Whilst he is still in the ‘but you made me feel this’ stage. Says it takes two to make a marriage fail. Indeed it does, but it didn’t just fail, he stepped out and threw it away! Why can he not see this? Takes fault for the affair but nothing much beforehand….
            I said well seems like you made the right decision then didn’t you? He said I don’t think so.
            It would fill you with glee to think I was miserable and unhappy. I said no, it would fill me with sadness and anger. Such a waste of a life togther. Our poor little boys. He and the OW are apparently just friends now and hang out and run together. No sex, no relationship. I call all lies. What was the point? Why still lie? And if he wanted to try to get his family back he would cut all ties immediately and forever just on the chance I would reconsider things, that what I call bulllshit, he cannot be alone and wouldn’t ever do the years of work to earn my trust again.
            I’ll always love him as he’s been all I know but I can never trust him again. How could I?

            • Fractured heart, wounded beat


              Yes, he’s still in the affair fog. It’s staggering how dense that fog is and how someone can behave in ways that are so contrary to the person you’ve known for decades. Makes no sense at all…. that’s the mindf@<% of it. I used to say I was living in Bizarro World!

              Perhaps the cracks in the fog have started. That's an entirely different layer. Then they say things that make you think they are finally coming out of it but still engage in the behaviors. It feels like just another game. But, in my experience, it was the start of the end. When they finally face reality, the blame game ends.

              I think my husband was greatly affected by the fact that he was removed from the family, that he didn't know what we were doing, and that he was obviously excluded. He started to feel alone, even with his little copycat affair family. He started to see that they were nothing like him at all. They didn't like what he liked. They irritated him with their attitudes. But it took time for all that to accumulate and wake him up.

              You are right, however, about the ego. When the fog breaks, that is largely gone, replaced with humility. You'll know when that happens but for me, I had to react much more softly than I would've thought I could. I had to listen to him and be open, rather than telling him what a piece of sh!t he was (no worries, that came later).

              As much as the betrayed feel like the cheaters deserve no quarter, they are in a mess they created and it is not as easy to fix as we see it. There are many mechanisms in play that make them feel trapped (and this is both good and bad).

              I'm glad you are working on you. This situation often leaves us little other choice. If you are spiritual, that support is also huge as it kept me a bit more level in navigating the changes, including when he returned.

              You are strong. You will make it through. But no one in your situation will come out on the other side the same as before. I changed through this process as well. My husband matured through this, especially emotionally.

              They cheat because THEY are broken. They are humble and honest when they are ready to stop running away from the mess they created and do the work to make it right.

          • Broken

            Thank you for your reply. You said so many things that made sense. You’re a better woman that I to forgive your husband I think. If he comes groveling back, and like I said, I’m not sure he will as I dont think the ego and pride will ever go away, I would like to think that I’d be deliriously happy that he’s realised what a shit decision he made but I won’t, I will just feel so beyond sad at the waste of it all. My husband is a very emotionally immature man, never can let go of his feelings on any real, deep level. I feel sorry for him going through life like that. And the OW? She too is a self centered person, who is a massive on herself show off! Totally not what he likes in a person, she will annoy him in time if not already.
            I feel that him saying they are just friends now is his way of a) keeping the door open with me (his opinion) or b) spreading that narrative so that our small town forgives them both and then they can truly start over later. I feel that he cannot be trusted with anything he says, especially as they’re are still hanging out.
            How do you trust that your husband is actually genuinely there because he wants you and not just cause the other life didn’t work out how he envisioned?
            Anyway, sorry to bang on again about it all. Speaking with him really does send me through the wringer.

    • Better days

      Firstly. This truly sucks and I’m sorry and can only image your path. What’s sometimes recommended is to put your daughter, sister or best friend’s name at the top of your post and re-read it. What would you tell that person? Your first post read “denial” to me. Your last post shows a lot more like you are here in reality. My name calling of your husband was solely about being a role model to your kids. No one deserves this tx and we have to stand up for ourselves. Wishing you the best.

    • Healing heart

      Fractured heart,
      You and your kids have been in my prayers since I read your post as I’ve thought of you often throughout the days. I’m now praying for you all to have strength, courage and peace as this chapter closes and you all move onward. Not how you’d write your story but you will put your life back together again and be better for it no doubt. I can tell by your writing that you are the rock of this family and you can see the big picture. My counselor told me that strong women typically come out the other side far better off than the one who has just left. It won’t be easy as you know but take comfort in knowing many have been down this road. What goes around comes around and no doubt, your soon to be ex husband and his black widow spider will get all that they deserve. Take care and may God bless.

    • Fractured heart, wounded beat

      Thank you all for your replies. They have given me a boost when it was needed over the last few weeks. I have been visiting the blog quite often since my last post and have tried to gain strength through this process, as well as leaning on my various supports and spending time with God (although I must admit this hasn’t been easy at times).

      A bit of an update…

      My husband left our home on the night of May 2nd. I found out that he spent one night at his mother’s house (where he said he was going, after stating he would not just run to the OW) but was with the OW and living with her by the second night he left his family. During that conversation, I again asked him how he thought his daughter would feel when she discovers that he is living with a girl of the same age. After saying he would not be parenting that girl and referring to her as “grown” at 14 (to which I responded, “Is our daughter grown at 14?”), he let me know that apparently our daughter and the OW’s daughter have many similar interests. Are you effing kidding me?!?! You think our daughter is going to be close friends with this other girl THAT HER FATHER SPENDS MORE TIME WITH THAN HIS OWN DAUGHTER?!?!?! Unfreakingbelievable!!! (My daughter knows EXACTLY why he is gone and what he has done, without specific details.)

      His belongings have been removed from the house (I sorted them for him to expedite the process of his full departure — in for a penny, in for a pound!) although he still has (24 years worth) of tools and toys in the garage. I’ve been pushing him to get everything gone. He’s been very clear about the fact that he is taking everything to his whore’s house because that is where he will be from now on. I do not need to see anything that reminds me of him! (My daughter removed all the photos from the walls and I have since replaced anything related to him with inspirational sayings or verses.) I am really TRYING to move forward. I’ve rearranged and repainted and replaced many things to try to feel like this is a fresh start. However, I need him erased from my life.

      Financially, I have always paid all the bills. I told him long ago, before we were even married, after he messed up several bills and I had to bail him out, I will do the bills — you just give me your check and I will take care of that. That’s worked well for many years (although I could’ve done without the stress!) and each of us has fantastic credit. (You’re welcome, you cheating POS!) Initially, I agreed to continue paying the bills for 30 days (read: the month of May) and he would continue with his direct deposit. I tried to talk about a reasonable amount of “allowance” for him each week. He had nothing to offer. I gave him the figure I had thought of and he didn’t balk. I told him I would give him cash but I needed the debit card back from our shared account to prevent any issues. HE REFUSED. Needless to say, I quickly made some financial institution changes to protect myself and my kids. Within one week, he had overdrawn the account (which only held his allowance with overdraft protection removed so that any additional charges on his card would be denied). Although I straightened that out with the bank, I let him know what he’d done. The next morning, I woke up with one of those instant ideas and thought I should check the balance on a credit card (I sort of forgot he still had it in all the chaos). I found that he had charged a full tank of gas on the credit card (nearly his complete allowance worth) less than 2 days after leaving our family. That is the same day that he took his whore on a road trip, in the car I also own and insure. I immediately froze the account. He apparently tried to use it less than an hour afterward and was irate when he arrived to pick the kids up to take them to school (his primary contact with them – less than an hour of taxi service a few mornings each week). We had words at that point and although I said he could return after taking the kids to school to further discuss the situation, he just went back to his whore’s house like the POS pussy he is! I removed him from all my accounts. However, (still less than one week after leaving) he used that time to apply for a new credit card using his whore’s address as his own. He apologized, to a certain extent, for causing financial issues to the account but I’m not sure he really knows what is happening in that account.

      He recently suggested that I just keep paying everything and he will keep his check going into that account, he just wants to increase his allowance (something I said we could figure out but he failed to bring up again). My initial reaction was to play along so he didn’t discontinue his direct deposit before the month was up. I need him to crash and burn. He has no idea what he is doing with paying bills or budgeting. In fact, he’s always been my biggest barrier to staying on budget. The selfishness that led to the demise of our marriage….. The idea was to give him 30 days to establish his own bank account and get his own car insurance. HE HAS DONE NOTHING TOWARD THAT END, NOTHING. After speaking with more supports and my therapist, I was intending to just end it as planned so he could make his own mess. However, my conversation with a divorce attorney led to the opposite advice for the time being. He has had no other conversation with me about this either. He still expects me to be the adult while he drives off into the sunset with this old whore (more than 8 years OLDER than me).

      During the course of our planned “financial conversation”, this POS said, “I’ll probably have to file bankruptcy, and you probably will have to too, but IT IS WHAT IT IS.” Needless to say, those words did not lead to anything positive in the conversation, considering I had no choice in this outcome based on his selfish choices! He mentioned that he couldn’t expect HER to pay his bills to which I responded why not since she wanted you so badly! He did also add shortly thereafter, “The heart wants what the heart wants.” THE FACT THAT HE IS STILL BREATHING IS STARTLING!

      This has been so freaking difficult. I vacillate between extreme sadness (read: crying, sobbing, falling apart) and rage. I do not even know who this POS is! After all these years, how on Earth can they just change into something you have never before observed?! He is constantly rewriting the history of our relationship. In truth, during our failed reconciliation, he came to realize how little he has given me over the years and how much he has taken. He apologized profusely for that and for the years with him when perhaps I could have been happier with someone else. He has told others, including our daughter, that he has taken me for granted all these years. NOW, I apparently was insulting to him all these years (“keep insulting me like you always have”) and he just isn’t in love with me anymore (despite the absolute opposite less than two months ago) and has felt this way for YEARS but just couldn’t tell me. I’m not sure if it’s scarier to believe this is affair speak or that it is accurate! The confusion of our failed reconciliation, which I thought would clear after ending it, is simply compounded by more crap.

      I have tried to communicate calmly with him (which is difficult as this is still fresh and less than 4 months from the first DDay that totally blindsided me) but he just says such insensitive things that it sends me back down the rabbit hole. For instance, I was texting with him calmly. I was telling him about how the kids and I went to a special praise service the night before and how nice it was. I mentioned how I wished he would return to God, etc. etc. He actually sent me this. “Aside from not seeing the kids as much as I’d like and what I did to you, I am happy, for what that’s worth.” Ummmmmmm….. YOU SIR, ARE AN IDIOT! All that mattered all these years was HIS comfort and HIS happiness but Praise God that he is happy after leaving his family in an emotional mess. I don’t even know what to do with that!?!?!

      Needless to say, our interactions are not always nice and truthfully, I would prefer not to see his face at all. It only makes me angry and takes away my progress. Just yesterday, when he was finally moving more things out of here, we had a pretty nasty fight. It was many things that have added up this week, starting with his stupid comment about his “happiness”. I ended up telling him that since he had nothing else in the house itself and had access to the garage otherwise, I wanted my house key back. He refused and after much back and forth, gave it to me, claiming he made copies (which he later said was only to piss me off), and then I discovered it was the wrong key. This lying sack claims that was not intentional. I just want peace in my own home! I want to know that he cannot just waltz in at any time. I have told him to wait for the kids in the driveway and while he will initially honor that, I walked out the other morning to him standing in the dining room. COME ON! YOU DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE!!!!

      I have had so many dark thoughts about my preferred fate for this man that I have shared 24 years with. I do not think I have ever wished such horrible things on another human being in my life.

      I sent him a list of things to make this better since he said it’s my attitude that causes problems and I just don’t see it. He claims he has been cooperative and civil through all this. I did tell him that is much easier for the betrayer than the betrayed. He just acts like he is so justified in what he has done and really seems to believe that 1) this is true love and he deserves to be happy, and 2) everything will work out wonderfully for everyone involved.

      He has been emotionally distant or unavailable for most of our marriage. I have tried for years to get him out of his protective shell. It has happened but on very rare occasions and I have always tried to be receptive, understanding, and supportive when he has done so. He was open emotionally after DDay 1 and DDay 2 but clearly that was not sustained, thus DDay 3. (I was the best gift he’s every received, he is more in love with me everyday, making love with me is so overwhelmingly intense, yada yada yada). I believe he is very emotionally stunted due to his emotionless upbringing. For whatever reason, this midlife crisis has caused some craziness within the man I once knew. But I do believe that part of this vulnerability is that I was exceptionally busy when this was initially developing as a friendship. We had agreed that I would return to school to complete another master’s degree. He wasn’t happy with his job and wanted to do something he actually liked but his job provided the health insurance. The plan was that he would stick it out a couple more years while I completed this degree and then he could pursue something he was passionate about (yes, I see the irony there). He went to work and helped a bit with stuff around the house (he did do all of the cooking when he was home). It got to the point that I had to give him a substantial list of things he was neglecting (after asking many times). Meanwhile, I was taking 6 to 9 graduate credits, teaching 4 to 12 college credit hours, working a part-time job as a government contractor, taking care of our rental house, keeping up with housework as much as possible, coordinating everything with the kids (medical, activities, rides, etc.), paying all the bills, and was alone with the kids the majority of the time due to his work schedule (retail with many nights and only one weekend off per month). Maybe he was lonely, maybe he did feel that he wasn’t good enough for me (something he mentioned at one point during this ordeal) but wtf? Never a single conversation and here we are with a PA that started in January 2019 (he claims he realized he was attracted to this old whore sometime in the fall but he isn’t sure if it was before or after I was hospitalized and having emergency surgery) and we are all now disposable. Guess what — I WAS LONELY. I WAS OVERWHELMED. I WAS MISERABLE. He just never cared enough to notice. As a side note, I just finished that degree and he insisted on being at my commencement, even claiming it choked him up when they called my name, even though he was already living with his whore.

      To be clear, he is gone. There is no way to reconcile after all this. I really do believe that. I am just having a difficult time with the grief and loss. I am having a difficult time with the things he says that undermine all these years together. I am tired of being hurt every time he is around. I am trying to rid myself of the love I’ve felt, the future we’d planned — but that usually just results in full-blown hate toward him. I understand I will likely be much better off than he will be in the future. My kids will be better in the long run, I think, I hope. Our bonds are growing stronger through this.

      He claims that he hasn’t told me why he really left because he doesn’t want to hurt me more. I don’t know what that means but he says we’ll talk early next week – you know, on his time frame. (I’ve actually wondered if he knocked up the old whore, who is still technically fertile — they discussed that in text messages too and he admitted that they discussed the absence of birth control. Yep, that’s a friendship only.) Everyone always thought because I was stronger that I wore the pants in the family. Although there were some areas where that was true, he has passively controlled me for years, using the love I felt against me to get what he wanted. But now he thinks that he’s the man in this relationship, completely blinded to her continued manipulation. He recognized it once, but after they were back in contact, he said it wasn’t so much manipulation as it was desperation. Good Lord, these cheaters are freaking stupid!

      I’m sorry for going on for so long. I am really struggling right now and needed to vent.

    • Shifting Impressions

      Fractured heart
      I am glad you were able to vent to us…..we are here for you. Your husband sounds like someone who has never really grown up. Sounds like he is in for a shock.

    • A fool

      I like this article. It has actionable suggestions and a thoughtful tone. I made mistakes in the past and this article is telling me it’s possible to learn from my mistakes, get stronger, instead of being an irredeemable monster. Thank you for writing with compassion. I’m doing pretty well with my personal recovery but wish I could improve my bond with my partner to prevent future unhappiness. It also feels a little relieving that it’s normal to have intrusive thoughts about the past that I don’t want to re-live. I would never lie to him again but I still want things to work between us. I now use those intrusive thoughts as opportunities to reaffirm that I will keep directing my emotional labor, as well as my plight for attention, to my husband.

    • still struggling

      I love this post! I have recognized the mistaken choices, I’ve made in the past concerning my husband’s affair. I am moving forward (very slowly), getting stronger emotionally, My intrusive thoughts still impede my progress, and some days are extremely bad for me, and it’s hard for me to control my anger towards my husband. It’s like an emotional mark left on your heart that gets you stuck and keeps you in a repetitive and energy draining loop. I try so hard and some days it feels like it is for nothing. My husband’s affair was years ago (or that was when I first found out). He made repeated promises to quit but always continued it, until he finally left the job he was at for another one at a different company. I just recently found out that even though he came home from work, looked me square in the eyes, told me he loved me and that it was completely over with her, he had continued his involvement with her for many months afterwards and he ask me,” Why he couldn’t have an emotional affair and still love his wife?” It hurts so deeply because it took us a long time to reach the point of beginning our healing journey, and it finally felt like we were making positive progress. He has also called me her name while we were making love, but he claims he didn’t mean anything by it and he really doesn’t know why he did it. He claims his involvement with her ended years ago, but I have had some terrible encounters with his AP over the years with her coming to my place of employment and making false accusations about me. ( I worked at Walmart). Thank God for great co-workers and cameras~ Because they exposed the truth. I told my husband about it and he blew it off, dismissed my anxiety and concerns about it, didn’t respond, didn’t show concern or empathy- the same thing he did when when at first when she called me and ridiculed me because I couldn’t make my husband happy but she could. Now since we have begun the healing process with true sincerity, she has begun harassing tactics toward me. If she sees me somewhere she will follow me around the store and make negative comments about my weight (yes I’ve gained a lot), how I can’t keep a man and no wonder my husband wanted someone better, How could my husband be with such an ugly, fat woman. She’s called me Loser, Worthless, Ugly, Fat, Stupid, She has gotten my number and texted crap to me about how my husband never wanted to be married to me in the first place, She’s made comments about specific things my husband and I had argued about in the past. Made some of the same cruel comments my husband has made to me when he was first involved with her. It always pushed me back to square one and although I just wanted to throat punch her, I chose to walk away and ignore it each and every time, even if it meant having to leave my groceries in the cart and walking out of the store and driving home in a state of complete tears and despair. When sharing with my husband about the encounters (7 of them) and how it hurt so deeply, I got no response from him again, No empathy absolutely nothing. In fact one time she chose to approach me while he was along, the minute he saw her coming, he turned and walked away, left the store and went and sat in the car, while I finished paying for our supplies while listening to her ranting at me. Mind you this lady is married too! When I lost it with my husband about his indifference toward her treatment of me, He stated that his counselor said he should have “NO CONTACT” with her. My question is for Doug, “Does “NO CONTACT” also mean not defending your spouse or your marriage to your affair partner?”, Or for anyone else who can help me with that one. I mean, isn’t not protecting the marriage and the spouse what got them into the affair in the first place? It got to the point where I had to take legal action, to stop her trying to insert herself into our marriage and recovery process. And it has stopped- have had absolutely no contact from her since, but once again, it wasn’t my husband who took action, to protect our marriage, it was left up to me. Does anyone having any in put on how to move forward past this, because right now this is my biggest stumbling block that’s been keeping me stuck. My counselor advises me to think about leaving but we have been together for 40 years, That’s a lot of history. I’m going to be 68 in a few months, and I still truly love him. He knows what he needs to do, what he should be doing and he is indeed doing some good things, but he usually doesn’t follow through with what he promises he will do. He starts out fine, when I’ve reached a level of frustration where he is then basically forced to step up and he starts out great but after a few days his efforts fizzle out to back to where we were in the first place. I’ve expressed my appreciation for his efforts but his efforts never last. Am I just beating a dead horse, here?

      • Shifting Impressions

        Still struggling
        Only you know the answer to that. Only you know when enough is enough. From reading your heartbreaking post it sounds like you are the one doing all the heavy lifting in the relationship.

        If I’ve learned anything from this painful journey it’s that I can’t change my partner, or anyone for that matter. Our greatest power lies in our own response!! Perhaps you could ask yourself some really difficult questions….such as WHY you are willing to be treated this way?? I’m of similar age that you are and married to the same man since I was twenty so I truly understand how hard the idea of leaving can be.

        A book I found really helpful during this painful journey is the book IT TAKES ONE TO TANGO by Winnifred M Reilly.

        Take care

    • Forced to move on

      Tonight, I just found out my H went to visit his AP. D-day was Oct 19th 2022. To my knowledge he last visited her in June. His excuse this time is that she had back surgery so he went to see her. I am done! I hung in there through months of affair fog and put up with him choosing her time and time again over me…..practically in my face. The affair began in April 2022. She was a co-worker of ours. I found out about the affair in October. He continued working side by side with her, giving her our money and an old car we had against my fierce fight. He did not care about me or how he was hurting me. He only cared about protecting and taking care of his love interest. He continues to deny what the relationship was/is. I’m tired of hearing they are just friends because it’s clear it is more than that. I’m tired of fighting for this man and this 39 year marriage when he throws it all away by doing this. I’m surprised I’m not in tears though. I guess I was waiting for the relapse because the ending of the affair was not his choice. I was not his choice. She chose to end things. Watching him withdraw from her was extremely painful but I was hoping we would make it to the other side. I fought for this man and our marriage. I took all the punches from the affair fog which was the most heartbreaking and damaging events I ever experienced. I can no longer wait for him to admit to himself that he loves this woman and I am no longer his priority. I have an adult son with special needs so I have to be okay and strong enough to move on without my cheating, dishonorable, pitiful excuse of a man, husband!

      • Fractured heart, wounded beat

        And you have every right to be done. It’s difficult, yes, but when it’s time to be done, you know.

        I always hated to hear “focus on yourself” in the midst of it. How can you do that when everything is chaos in your life? But, it’s true. Once I was done (although that wasn’t the end of the story), I was eventually able to find a version of contentment at being just me, not attached to him anymore (for the most part).

        I’m sorry you are in this place but try to reacquaint yourself with YOU and I hope you find that you quite like who you find.

        • Forced to move on

          I have worked hard at trying to rebuild this “marriage” and he has contributed nothing. Yesterday morning he came into MY room (I moved to another bedroom and claimed it as my space) with Linda & Doug’s “24 Most Common Mistakes Made by the Unfaithful Spouse after Infidelity ” and tears in his eyes, dropped to his knees, put head in my lap and said he made all 24 mistakes. He apologized but I’ve seen all of this before. His remorseful demeanor….I’ve seen it many times before. He cooked breakfast and served it to me in bed. He was really sweet and helpful however, I don’t trust that he’ll never contact his AP again. He keeps asking if I have someone else. I don’t at this time. I’ve spent the last 12 months fighting for my marriage with little to no effort from him. I’m tired! He’s been a good husband but he just can’t seem to let the OW go. He continues to choose her over me and I am too fabulous to settle for this treatment. I haven’t decided what to do yet. I have time and I feel the ball is in my court now. I can do without him. I have enough confidence in myself to know that I can survive and thrive without him. It’s taken this to realize my strength & resilience and know I can live well independent of him.

    • Nicole

      The funny thing about an affair and its associated emotions is that after a while it starts to mirror a drug-use scenario. It begins with little flashes of self-esteem boosts courtesy of dopamine release coming from the affirming words the affair partner (AP) says to you. The danger and thought of getting caught heighten your adrenaline rush as well. So you are hooked on two hormones at once.
      Because affairs happen under artificial circumstances, lust can last a lot longer than in marriage. This is due to the element of the forbidden. This element can cause some affairs to last a long time since the element of the forbidden keeps fueling the lust. Then, people keep confusing this lust with love.
      Affairs are like hothouse flowers.
      Beautiful things can grow in that climate-controlled environment. But once you take your delicate flower out into the real world, it dies.
      Because It was never meant to withstand the climate of a real relationship. It was meant to be kept in secret for you to enjoy behind closed doors.
      Ask yourself how you’d react if your fling asked if you could go out somewhere and “be seen together.” If you’re thinking, “Well, that’s over,” it was never meant to be real.
      Affairs look better where the sunlight can’t touch them. -Barrie Davenport (livebold&bloom)

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