aftermath of an affair

In the immediate aftermath of an affair, you have one, big, soul-crushing and perhaps relationship-ruining betrayal to work through. 

By ‘TryingToGetOver’

Dragging the truth out of your loved one, then healing your wounded self, is a months-long process. Okay, a years-long process, though if someone had told me that on my D-day, I fear I may have folded.

From the time I confronted my husband about his “best friend” to the time I unearthed most of the truth – took months. But now, a year and a half into working on things without any contact with her, we are still discovering layers of the whole, messy disaster.

You are blameless for your partner’s affair. Cheating is a choice they made.

But every marriage, including the best affair-free ones, have issues. If an affair happens, likely those issues are tangled up in the “why” or “how” or the “and also” of the affair. That doesn’t make the affair justifiable. But in order to heal a marriage, you have to also tackle those little sideshows.

A list of super-common, super-normal stressors that, from what I’ve read on these boards, end up being tied to an affair: child-rearing, bill-paying, working, traveling. A move. An illness. Disability. Job loss. Mid-life crisis. An empty nest. Anything that stresses either of you, leaving you potentially emotionally distant or just plain emotionally exhausted, does not cause an affair, but it may be related. It has to be dealt with to fully heal.

That’s because, I’m realizing late in the game, just putting any degree of closure on the actual affair doesn’t solve other, underlying stressors. They’ll lurk until they’re dealt with on an ongoing basis, and having to learn to talk and talk and talk is perhaps one of the bright life lessons of enduring this kind of hurt.

In our case, things are coming to a head with my husband’s mother. We have both been doing a lot of care for her over the past five years, dividing and conquering duties. He has done the big stuff, like finding her a place to live, and a car, and getting her to doctors. I do the day-to-day strategy and emergency management and financial work. And I do mean daily, the check-ins are constant. I didn’t think, until this past week, that it had much to do with the affair.

But it’s a life stressor, and so of course it did. As we talked about current developments, I began to sob. It became so overwhelming to me that I could work so hard to take care of his mother, to actually give her far more attention than I give my own parents, and still have him A) cheat on me and B) never show me tremendous gratitude.

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

And in a twist of the knife that I will never forget, he had brought the woman he was sleeping with to his mother’s house—to give his mom flowers that were left out for me to find! That moment is long ago – but one of my biggest triggers – and many times when we talk about his mother, I bring it back up. (The curse of being the betrayed spouse—we all have triggers and “the moment I will never forget” that haunt us like demons.)

So, the sideshow issue: Escaping to another woman gave my husband a way to bury his head in the sand about his mother’s decline. He could tell his girlfriend anything he wanted about his mom, they didn’t have to live in reality. He had a fantasy he could mentally escape to while I initiated the hard and boring conversations about his mom’s heating bill or getting her an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Caregiving was not his excuse or the reason for his affair but, looking back, we both realized it contributed. I was feeling taken for granted but not voicing that. I was waiting for a gold star from him and yet not telling him that I needed it. Meanwhile, he was sad about his mother and feeling disconnected from me because I was, no doubt, not a sunny person. We didn’t talk enough about it while it was happening, so we have to talk about it now.

And there were other sideshows too, so many things that worked into the distance between us. Every marriage is complicated.

And this, we are realizing, is part of the healing too. Dragging out all the other stuff and just being honest about life’s hardships and the toll they take on relationships.

Living life with a partner draws you closer, because no one understands you like the person who has been at your side. But it can also push you apart, because it’s hard to have honeymoon-like romantic energy with someone who needs to go over money or health or logistic details with you before you head to bed.

The important thing, though, is to keep talking. And then, for us, to cuddle when we go to bed.

***************

Thanks so much to ‘TryingToGetOver’ for sharing her experiences with us in the aftermath of an affair.  We love to share articles from our readers.  So if you’d  like to submit an article for us to possibly post on the blog, feel free to contact us about your ideas.

 

 

    13 replies to "The Aftermath of an Affair – How Dealing With This Means Dealing With That"

    • Exercisegrace

      TryingToGetOver….good article! And coming from someone who has been there done that with elderly parents (yes plural!) YOU have the biggest role, not your husband. It’s the day to day grind that takes the greatest emotional toll. Do not discount this. You are stronger BY FAR. You held up your end of the rope and didn’t throw your morals out the window. Nobody should need to ask for a thank you for caring for a spouses elderly parent. Your husband (like most cheating spouses) didn’t give you any kudos because they become too enmeshed in their own pity party, and too busy seeking their own kudos.

      This article makes some important points, and sadly we spent most of our marriage communicating well, appreciating each other etc. Until the stress we were under, added to my husband’s underlying emotional issues, intersected with opportunity. Sometimes you
      Don’t see it coming. Sometimes the train runs you over even though you’ve taken all reasonable precautions.

      One thing I will stress that helped ME? TAKE YOUR TIME IN THIS PROCESS. Grieve on your own timeline. The BEST thing I ever did was take the months and months to get down to the hard truths, instead of accepting the immediate lies (affair didn’t last “maybe two months”, it lasted nearly two years, etc). I put myself firmly in the drivers seat of the recovery. When my husband tried to play the “we neglected each other” “mistakes were made” “ we need to work on things” cards?? I laughed in therapist’s office. I looked at him and said……You haven’t earned the right to discuss those things yet. Nobody has said there will even BE a marriage to work on yet. If you hear anything at all about flaws in your marriage during the first few months of counseling? Get a new counselor. Luckily both of ours backed me up. He had to fully deal with HIS bad choices, his mistakes, his broken moral compass, and the crappy family of origin
      Issues that drove his behavior. He had to acknowledge the hurt done to not only me and our marriage, but to our children and our family.

      Every human is flawed, therefore every relationship is flawed. Yet for the most part, people don’t cheat. They don’t throw away good partners for whores. We can all do better when we know better. Always strive to be the best person you can be. But faithful spouses usually already do. Cheaters will slide the responsibility of their cheating to flaws in the relationship to the extent that you let them. Keep accountability and boundaries in place.

      • Shifting Impressions

        EG
        You said that so well…..I couldn’t agree more!!!

      • TryingHard

        As usual EG Yesss to everything you said. Especially if your counselor suggests talking about the marriage before sorting out the infidelity. Many many people and counselors conflate the issues.

        Life is stressful. I don’t care who you are or what you are doing there’s stress. Those who cheat have poor coping skills in dealing with that stress. If stress were a contributing factor to cheating hell I’d have had a bevy of boyfriends while HIS affair was going on. but there’s a big difference between him and me. It’s called character and maturity.

        • Four times the fool

          A year and a half in and I feel like I struggle daily. My wife had four affairs over the course of our 32 year marriage. Physical in some cases and emotional (as well as online/phone sex. She’s accepted responsibility for her choices even though she blames it on her past and issues. I struggle with not knowing the correct timelines and some of the details. She can’t remember (she does have some legitimate medical issues in this area), doesn’t want to say something she doesn’t want to share, doesn’t want to remember her bad behavior, wants to move on etcetc.

          But I’m stuck living in the past and wondering. How can I accept and move forward ???? If I was younger, our daughter was graduated and financially able I think I would leave.

    • Tryingtogetover

      Thank you, ExerciseGrace!

    • kittypone

      EG, TTGO, SI, TH…..y’all the bomb diggity!! Your experiences shared here have been a life saver for me, so I thank you all kindly for helping me see the light at the end of the tunnel….many blessings to you all as we all recover from this trauma called infidelity….

      • TryingHard

        Awwww you’re too kind. Just sharing my experiences helps me too. You can do this. Either direction you choose to go take care of YOU first.

      • Shifting Impressions

        Kittypone
        I’m with TryingHard on this…..it helps me knowing my experience can help someone else navigate this nightmare.

        I know what you mean about other people’s stories being a life saver….they were for me as well.

    • Tryingtogetover

      So true. There is such overwhelming fear at first – this site helped calm me down just by proving I was not alone and that what I thought was a freakish turn of events was actually something many good people are forced to face.

      • TryingHard

        Yes lots of good people. In the beginning I lamented fiercely why me. why did this happen to ME. As if somehow my goodness or lack thereof caused the shitstorm. I’ve learned to say well heck why not me. Seems this club continues to grow and we are never going to be lacking members.

    • Four times the fool

      A year and a half in and I feel like I struggle daily. My wife had four affairs over the course of our 32 year marriage. Physical in some cases and emotional (as well as online/phone sex. She’s accepted responsibility for her choices even though she blames it on her past and issues. I struggle with not knowing the correct timelines and some of the details. She can’t remember (she does have some legitimate medical issues in this area), doesn’t want to say something she doesn’t want to share, doesn’t want to remember her bad behavior, wants to move on etcetc.

      But I’m stuck living in the past and wondering. How can I accept and move forward ???? If I was younger, our daughter was graduated and financially able I think I would leave.

      • Kittypone

        Four Times The Fool

        Like you’ve probably read from so many of us here, you can only control YOU. You can’t change the past, only learn from it; you can’t control your wife’s choices, only yours; you can’t control circumstances around you, only your reaction to them…..if she is willing to work on her issues and rebuild the marriage and if she is legitimately repentant and sorry for her bad choices and you are willing to turn the page, give it your best shot and take it from there…..I can’t promise you that you will get back all that you lost with her affairs, but you might be able to rebuild and make something better than before if BOTH of you are invested FULLY in recovery ….get a therapist for yourself and/or a marriage counselor to get you started and take it from there…..in this site we are all in the same boat, some more recently than others in our respective DDays, but we all get where you are coming from…..if you just need to vent, we are here for you….if you need advice, don’t be afraid to ask; we might not have all the answers, but we can share our experiences and what has worked and what hasn’t for our individual experiences in this journey…..best of luck to you!!

      • Hopeful

        Four times, I am so sorry you are here. My husband had two affairs over ten years. Nothing is easy no matter how we are betrayed. I agree with the comment above you can only control you. I spent a lot of time alone and keeping a journal. I knew I needed to figure out what I wanted vs worrying about him or us at first. I took a lot of time during the recovery process to do that. Whether we stayed together or not I needed to do that. I also worked with a therapist who is an expert in the field of betrayal. It took us a good 3 years to really work through most of it. My husband has transformed himself. He lives a totally different life and has decided on his own and whether we stayed together or not to live a 100% authentic and transparent life. I think everyone needs to figure out what they are willing to do. Just like with nutrition. No one can make someone eat healthy or stick to a diet all the time. My husband had to make his own decisions.

        I guess all I can say is it is a process. Once we got through the pain phase of all of it I just had to let go of the past. My husband wishes he could go back and change it too but we are out of luck. We have chosen to focus on the present. We are closer and happier than ever. Not perfect but in a really good spot.

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