An affair is a major life changing event. To imagine it is anything other than that would be to diminish the pain and suffering.

An affair is a major life changing event like no otherBy Linda

The following post is adapted from a discussion that took place about four years ago.  I think you’ll find it meaningful.

We’ve received several emails over the last few days where people have explained in great details the awful pain, shock and awe that they experienced upon discovering their partner’s affair.  These made me think a lot about trust and what trust really is. 

I sometimes wonder if the unfaithful are remotely aware of how shockingly awful the discovery of the affair is to the betrayed spouse.  Do they have any idea how it really must feel to be blindsided with whatever damning evidence there was that proved there was an affair? 

It could be those utterly shocking text messages discovered on their husband’s cell phone or a forgotten email on their wife’s laptop that brings to light that an affair is actually taking place. 

Suddenly your marriage, your life, your family, your home, your safe place, your haven is about to get blown to bits by the bomb that has fallen right on top of your head.  So, to say that an affair is a major life changing event, is a huge understatement.

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To give the unfaithful just an idea of the level of shock I’m talking about, read what one person writes…

“I remember one random day at work over 10 years ago when I received a phone call from my dad, he was crying and told me I had to come home right away…. my mom had just be diagnosed with breast cancer, she was scheduled to go directly into hospital for major surgery… the world that I lived in was turned upside down in a matter of moments, all terror filled thoughts ran through my brain, along with fear, dread, extreme shock, emotional pain which words cannot fill, heart breaking sorrow and the loss of the innocence of my family life….

I have only felt that pain twice since, the night that my mother finally died in my father’s arms while trying to tell him she loved him and the morning that I discovered my husband was having an affair.

I sometimes feel that the trust I lost in my marriage was really the innocence of my marriage gone for good.  A good friend once told me that ‘you can love but you don’t need to trust’ and sometimes I wonder if she isn’t right.

A couple of years ago I discovered a lump in my own breast and I felt instant concern. I called my doctor that morning to have my lump checked out. Some friends (including my own husband) were very positive about saying ‘oh don’t worry’, ‘it skips a generation’ and ‘you won’t get cancer so young’… However, when I told my dad and sisters their instant response was ‘go to the doctor’, ‘have it checked out ASAP’ and ‘make sure you push your doctor for a mammogram’… The difference between the two sets of responses are due to the fact that my family and I fought on the front line against cancer, just like I’ve been on the front line with my husband’s affair and all the pain that came with it….

Today I’m very aware of my body.  I give myself a check-up often, I’m aware, watch out for and am sensitive of small changes on my body…. It’s not that I think I’m going to see cancer again but I don’t trust that my life will be a cancer free life either, I’m just aware and watchful….

Why should my marriage be any different? All of us who have felt the pain of an affair are now, most likely, super aware of changes in their partners, within their marriages, in behavior and actions. 

Personally I don’t see that there is anything wrong with wanting to ensure that something that has pinged my radar is checked out… I don’t THINK that my husband is having an affair now but at the same time I no longer TRUST that this will never happen again….”

broken-heartFor us to feel safe and secure we need to be aware of changes that occur in our relationship.

Earlier in our recovery I tried not to be paranoid but I definitely tuned into times when we were not communicating well or spending enough time together.

See also  Discussion – Have You (or Your Cheating Spouse) Taken Responsibility for Your Actions?

Sometimes it was stressful and created more anxiety than I would have liked, but unfortunately that was the way it was.

I remember being at a neighborhood party and Doug was having a brief conversation with a woman that was going through a divorce at the time. Before the affair it would not have bothered me.  I would have completely trusted him.  Sadly, at the time of the party I thought to myself, ‘it happened before could it happen again?’

I wondered if I would ever understand what made him vulnerable to the affair in the first place and safe from having another one.

I know there are no guarantees, but I’m confident that all of the work we have done in our recovery will keep our marriage safe from temptation. 

An affair is a major life changing event.  To imagine it is anything other than that would be to diminish the pain, suffering, and ultimately the new way we now look at life, our marriages, love, trust and union.

The Pain of Betrayal – Do We Have Adequate Words to Describe What it Feels Like?

Like with any other major life changing event (such as an unexpected death of a close one, the birth of a child, loss of a job, etc.), we take a journey within ourselves, and for those of us who have discovered our partner’s affairs and the personal suffering that comes with that discovery we do take one heck of a journey – to hell and back again.

Furthermore, with any journey in life we learn so much along the way, and yes we are forever changed by the experience. The woman I am today is not the woman I was 5 years ago.  The journey was hard and we continue to learn everyday and therefore continue to evolve and change, for the better.

See also  What Does Moving On After Infidelity Really Mean?

Perhaps we will always be alert to such situations like the one at the party, but perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing.  For when the blind trust was removed from our marriage I felt that someone took away my security blanket, it was scary and yet I now feel more confident within our relationship as I’m now much more aware of what is happening.

The person to whom I was conversing with said the following, which I think is wonderful…

“I was looking at my wedding photo the other day, at the young woman smiling back at me from a captured moment in time and I took a minute to go back to that day.  In reality we had no ‘game plan’, we didn’t think about 5 years in the future, 10 years, how we would evolve as people, what our emotional triggers are, we didn’t discuss infidelity (or any other events that could shake our world).  We thought that love was enough, that love would be balm on our tired minds, stressed bodies, overworked souls, troubled hearts etc.  But my father once told me that ‘when hardship comes in the door, love goes out the window.’  It never occurred to me that love would be something I would have to work at every day.  No one tells us these things when we are young.  Our first impressions of love are fairy tale endings and Hollywood soundtracks…

But we are still here and I hope our husbands or wives look at us sometimes and think ‘wow, I’m the luckiest guy (gal) in the world’ – because they are!”

I Love it!

    29 replies to "An Affair is a Major Life Changing Event Like No Other"

    • Strengthrequired

      My h told me the other day, that he appreciates me so much more now, than what he ever has. It was nice to hear, but in the back if my mind I will always wonder.
      I hope he realises how lucky he is, but at times I wish I could be the one that feels lucky.
      Every time he leaves for work for days on end, I feel uneasy, I feel at times that it is just all too hard, because that pain I felt when he would lie to me about seeing his ow, while supposedly wanting to save our marriage, all comes rushing back, and I wonder can I keep going?
      Sometimes it is like I wait for him to say, he wants to be with the ow, then I will know, that I can walk away, because then I know I don’t have to keep being alone everyday, just wondering, having my mind boil over with all the thoughts and letting my imagination run wild.
      Yet then I see all the changes he has made, all the progress he has accomplished, all the openness he gives, and it all just confuses me. It’s like one part of my mind says, just go, while the other part says, you need to stay, he loves you, and wants only you.
      It is such an emotional ride, that at times you just don’t know what to do, what to believe, and at times you just don’t know how to act, whether to be giving of your love or just not give in to only just get hurt all over again.
      I know if I was to have my h home everyday, all the thoughts and mind images, would be less. At times I blame myself for moving away, because if I had stayed, he would have been home, yet would he have had that time to miss me more than the ow to have let her go, like he did when we moved. Yet if I hadn’t of moved away, I would have been sent to the looney bin no doubt. Maybe I wouldn’t have come as far as I have, if I did not move and give myself the chance to breathe again.
      Yet was it really a win for me and the best decision, when I look at the now. I’m not so sure, but it was the right thing at the time.

    • JennyN

      Though blindsided in many ways as the betrayed spouse I feel fortunate.

      I don’t know what it is like to be in such a contradiction of what I thought of myself as a betraying partner must get to and deeply feel at some point in the recovery process for him/herself and their partners to heal.

      As hard as it is to lose faith in another, I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose faith in myself, and have to pull myself back up.

      What a great post, thanks so much. This helps me to see what a huge crack in my belief system an affair was….and that like any other disaster scene it takes time and a lot of work to recover from.

    • battleborn

      “It never occurred to me that love would be something I would have to work at every day. No one tells us these things when we are young. Our first impressions of love are fairy tale endings and Hollywood soundtracks…”

      But to be really honest, when we were young and in love, would any of us really listened to the elders telling us that young love would not last, that there needs to be a different kind of love? I doubt it.

      Everyone says there needs to be a pre-marriage lesson regarding the stages of love during a lengthy marriage. It sounds wonderful to be forewarned about the changes but I ask again, would most young lovers understand? Didn’t most of us come into our marriages believing this is the way it will always be?

      Yes, it is work to keep the fires burning and a marraige going, but in truth it sounds good to think our love is enough to sustain over the years, then we find out the truth is marriage is work. The choice is ours to make; work at it or not. But if we don’t the consequences are devastating as those of us here can attest.

    • Gizfield

      I may be in the minority here, but I still dont think that marriage is earth shatteringly difficult, as long as you can find two people willing to act like adults and not overgrown teenagers. And if you ignore all the media shit you see, that things are “so much better” for everyone else cause they’ re not.

      I do agree that people need to be taught a little bit more about the true nature of love because the majority of what is presented in movies, books, music, etc. is NOT love but some sort of ego driven dysfunction. Like “pretty woman” I’m sure your marriage would turn out just great if you start with a gold digging prostitute and her sugar daddy, lol.

      • Exercisegrace

        Giz, I agree. We all know life is hard. We know we will face diffcult seasons. Parents die, lay-offs occur, finances flounder, illnesses or surgeries happen. The list can be very long. But there is a tacit agreement in marriage. We are in it together. We have each other’s back. We won’t have to face things alone. Because we are smart enough to know that marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s an ever-shifting balance of numbers as we carry or be carried. NO one can prepare you to stand by your morals. No one can tell you how to respond in a crisis. It’s like that country song……… You’ll know a hero from a coward when you see which way they run.

        JennyN is right. I stood my ground. I gave my all. I can hold my head up proudly. I’m not a fool for trusting. I’m not ashamed. He has to look in the mirror every day and se a man who failed his family. I see a woman who saved hers.

        • Strengthrequired

          Exactly, at times I think we need to remember that, especially when we are being hard on ourselves

        • Gizfield

          I think you’re great, Exercise Grace. I had strong marriage role models but their lives were not easy by any means. My parents married when he was 26 and she was 16. That would be shocking today, right. He had served in WWII. My brother was born a year later, and they adopted me ten years after that. Neither graduated high school and they worked in factories with one week vacation per year. My daddy retired at 65, got lung cancer, had surgery, chemo, remission with a recurrence later in his brain. More surgery, died at age 69. My mother took care of him, had a heart attack six or seven months after his death. Bypass surgery, but she never did good after that. She had a massive heart attack while riding home in my aunt’s car after being discharged from the hospital. Just a few days before the one year anniversary of my fathers death. They didn’t go on dates, or have long candlelight dinners, and all that but if one was in the hospital or sick the other was pitiful cause they were so upset.

          My aunt and uncle lived nearby. He got throat cancer when I was about ten, and had that surgery where they cut a whole in your throat. Tracheotomy, maybe, can’t remember. She would clean it out for him til the day he died. I could not even imagine doing that, then or now. I guess this type of love can’t compete with a few sleazy meetings or romantic dinners, or the ever popular endless trivial text messages or sneaky calls on the whorephone, lol.

          • Gizfield

            I remember my mother got cervical cancer when I was in junior high I think. My father had smoked earlier but had quit for years. I remember him smoking in the waiting room (lol, this was the 60s) and crying, and saying that if my mother died he didnt know what he would do. And that my mother would kill him if she caught him smoking…

            • Gizfield

              Actually, it was probably the early 70s. I’m not that old.

        • DoWhatsRight

          Exercise Grace, your comment “He has to look in the mirror every day and se a man who failed his family. I see a woman who saved hers” is profound. However, in my case, it was my wife who had the affair. And I, as the husband, was the one who needed to save our marriage.

          The affair was a number of years ago. Yet I frequently wonder if I did the right thing in staying in the marriage. But that’s the choice that I made. Had I left the marriage, my special needs daughter would have also become a victim of the affair. And I simply couldn’t bring myself to see that happen.

          The most unfortunate thing is that the affair forever changed the trajectory of our marriage. My spouse never came clean. She simply refused to talk about the matter. So no closure on my end. Just lots of unanswered questions.

          • Shifting Impressions

            Do what’s right
            Chances are those doubts and questions will continue to haunt you. Not a great way to live. It’s never too late to go back. Not talking and answering questions would be a deal breaker for me.

            Is a marriage really “saved” with all those unanswered questions just festering deep inside.

    • Gizfield

      I do have a story to share. The Karma Bus has struck down another marriage with adulterous beginnings. Even though it took a while.

      The couple is one I have known about 12 or 13 years. See them about once a year. I didnt know it for a few years but right before I met them they pulled a very dramatic episode of Cheat on your Spouse, Run off and Get Married at an out of town convention. Very embarrassing for the spouses I heard.

      I did know the guy had a wandering eye and made me uncomfortable in my younger, skinnier, prettier days. It turns out their love and relationship wasn’t so “special” and true after all. Hes ran off with a newer model, and shes on facebook all the time, singing the blues. Bet their exes are laughing their asses off.

      • Doug

        I like that…The Karma Bus. Surprisingly, their marriage lasted longer than most that are borne out of infidelity, I’m guessing.

      • Exercisegrace

        Beep beep! Here I am, waving as the bus goes by!

      • forcryin'outloud

        “The Karma Bus” – that gives me visions of a psychedelic painted bus with incense flowing out of it spreading whatever applicable “karma” you have coming your way.

        • Gizfield

          You guys are too funnny! Sometimes I surprise myself cause I dont feel that good about the Karma Bus hitting my friend and actually feel kind of sorry for her. But I dont know either of their former spouses so that takes that element out of it.

    • Gizfield

      Yes, I think the average is just a few years, Doug. This guy may have been cheating before and it’s just now came out. Plus, the woman has a daughter who is just about to graduate high school and the guy is close to the daughter so that may have been a factor as well.

    • Patsy50

      Linda, Wonderful post!

      Battlehorn —- couldn’t agree more with you.

    • Rachel

      And my ex will be driving the karma bus.

    • tryingtoowife

      I soooo agree with Gizfield and Exercisegrace
      Until all this mess happened in my marriage I didn’t think that marriage was difficult. I sure thought we had to help and support each other as well as we could, being each other best friend. I never thought that it would be plain sailing, but I did not expect us to go so off track. Now is bloody hard, and hard work, everyday, all the time.
      Soon after my first daughter was born at the beginning of our marriage, not relationship, a nice friend of the family married for decades, told us that “marriage needed work, always – never to forget that”. We talked about it many times, but I truly believed that we were doing our best for each other and the family unit. I – was very happy! If one thing would have helped my husband, was having a better communication skill when he felt under valuated and tell me, instead of deciding to play with the freedom I always guaranteed him – blindly, because I truly believed that this was a way to show him, my true love, by trusting and respecting him. It will never again be like that.
      One night, as the lights were off and we were talking just before falling sleep, he mentioned to me again, what our friend had said to us. “marriage needs work, everyday, all the time, lets not forget it!”. I agreed and replied that we where trying to do it, and supporting each other! The truth is, he was trying in his sick mind to shift some of the blame of his short falling on me! (that was then, as he takes full responsibility for his actions now)
      Little I knew that his way of “caring about our marriage was to sneak around, lie and cover his track with his SL%T! , detaching himself emotionally from me and the children and having his fun. Whereas I was turning myself inside out and upside down, to do everything possible to take more and more on my shoulders so to relieve him of stresses and I was exhausted!
      Now if I can say anything to anyone (only if I am asked) it would be. Don’t trust blindly. Always check anything if it does not feel right. Listen to your gut! Communicate!
      But again. Would you listen to words of threats if you were so happy, and blissfully stupid that it would never happen to you? No, it does not mean much when you trust that you and your husband got it. That you are different from the crowd. Until one day you realise that you don’t have any special marriage. That what you have is just like anyone’s else. The specialness is gone, broken, now we are this. Survivors yes, off course! But also mended, and changed for ever, the marriage and ourselves!

    • Strengthrequired

      I think we all believed our marriages were different, look hOw long most of us were together. How could we have gotten so far in our marriages and not believe that we were the exception. Who would have expected to be faced with this sort of problem in our marriage especially when we seemed to be ok. Of course stresses in life happen, but I definitely never expected my h to bail on me when I needed him the most, or even when he needed me the most, yet he did.
      I think we would be plain stupid to believe our marriages would be the same as before, it is tarnished now, it is like a bad word that shouldn’t be uttered around the place. It is a dirty little secret that is for us to,hold onto for the rest of our lives.
      I will always wonder, how such a smart man can be so stupid…

    • lin

      I know that when I married 31 years ago, I had no idea what relationships or marriage were all about and what it would take to keep them healthy. I also had no idea how fragile they can be when vulnerable. The reality is that it takes two people to make a marriage and only one person to end the marriage is heartbreaking. If I only knew then what I know now . . . . .

    • Tiredofitall

      Strength-I feel exactly the same. I have said that over and over to my husband….he is such an intelligent man, and a Christian. How could he not have been smart enough to think things through and prevent this from ever happening?

    • Sandra

      Yes finding out about my H affair was life changing. We have been together for 20 years. Married for 14. Last year April we found a cyst in my right ovary my CA-125 was 3 times what it should be. So off I went and had a total hysterectomy to find out the cyst was not cancerous. Along with dealing with my H EA.

      January 2, 2014 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.When the Dr. told he held my hand and said you have cancer we did not want to tell you over the holidays. I did not shed a tear and he said it is okay if you cry. We will give you some time to let it sink in and to let you where we go from here. But this was nothing compare to finding out about my H EA. I currently in chemo. We still have not dealt with his EA he would like to act as it never happened but it did.

    • Strengthrequired

      So sorry Sandra, for all you have been through, how terribly sad. I think there are a lot of cs out there that just want to forget it ever happened and just move on. I know my h is one of them. I would love to be able to just forget so easily, but being a bs like you, it is just so hard. To think you can trust the one person you have always trusted, to only have them betray you in such a way, it is very traumatic. Not many of the cs will ever understand what they truly did to us, they may never truly understand what it felt like.
      Sending you loads of well wishes.

    • overwhelmed

      Great post Linda. Thank you.

      I’ve often fantasized about lining up a dozen or so of my best clients in front on my wife-ish and asking them to tell her all of the things they’ve heard me say about her over the years. But I doubt she’d believe any of it.

      Back in the “good old days”, my neighbor and I would get together for a few beers and talk about how lucky we are to have such great wives. Now we get together and talk about how lucky he is to have such a great wife.

      • Strengthrequired

        You have it wrong overwhelmed. You should be saying, how lucky she was/is to have such a great husband.. Silly silly woman. Cyber hugs to you.

    • Dailystruggle

      It has been since March 27, 2017 that I discovered my husbands affair. It was months later that he at least admitted to dealing with his ex girlfriend the length of our 22 year relationship and 11 year marriage. He has the nerve to be angry at me about everything. He says he does not want the other woman’s name brought up in the house anymore. He said let’s just move forward in the new year. He also said I am not going to argue with you about it. All it really says is get over, I did it so what to bad, get over it. I am 17 years younger than he. Sure would of been nice to have a choice to stay with a man who kept his ex in his life and mine all this time. I thought I meant something to him. Now I am stuck because I have two young children, with special needs. I go back and forth with stay or go in my mind. I tell myself how this is such a deal breaker. My needs were not being met by him on any level. Trying to keep a roof over our heads and the bills paid. Running to my girls schools for case conferences. All while he drove a semi down the road making no money. He’ll never know the day to day pain I bare as well as my kids. Our life will never be the same. It wasn’t the best before and now I know why. All the physical and verbal abuse for years and now I finally know. I am 44 and he is 61 with some serious health issues. Maybe I will get the strength I need to walk away regardless of the struggle of taking care of two children with special needs. Truth is I’ve been a single parent all along.

    • StillGoing

      I’ve been lurking on this site for many months now and just want to say how much of an encouragement it’s been. Also specifically to all you betrayed spouses; I don’t know any of you but you’ve made me feel less alone during this difficult season.
      My D day was mid October 2021. Something had been off for years and my husband was and had been emotionally detached; physical displays of affection were non existent. We’ve been married for 6 years and we’ve had many stressors during those years including two job layoffs. One happened only a few months into marriage. Each time I would try to talk to him about his emotional distancing, to find out what was wrong or how I could best support him, he would brush it off as nothing. Anyway, on two consecutive Mondays in October 2021 he came home very late 4/5am. He plays sports in the evening and gave a lame excuse that he was just hanging with the team. Long story short, I discovered exchanges with the OW on his iPad shortly afterwards. He had deleted everything off his phone (lied why messages were missing) but failed to take into account iCloud sync; that all the messages would still be on his iPad. It had only been going on for less than a month, so I caught it early but still it felt like a punch in the stomach… What followed was a catalogue of lies, continued phone and video calls with the OW, a few in person visits here and there and even a sneaky Costco trip with her. I know this as saw the pictures she later sent, of him giving her child a piggy back ride around the store. I later found out he had plans for our kids to meet this person. So glad that never happened. He eventually changed all the passwords to his devices and even went as far as to sign his phone out of apple “find my phone” so it could never be tracked. Currently he refuses to talk much in person and many exchanges are by text. He is defensive, gaslights me and often shuts down conversations about the affair. For him there is never a good time to talk about it. Doesn’t matter what time of day I try to approach him. I’ve stopped asking questions for the time being as it was getting nowhere. I have no way of verifying if things have stopped as I have zero access to anything. He did tell me he deleted her number, but I can’t take his word for nothing now… There is more I could say but I’m now 6 months in. I’m not particularly bothered by the OW the blame in terms of the deception is squarely at the feet of my husband. The OW should have know better is all I can say there. It’s been a rough, life changing road but it’s enabled me to see the emotional abuse and neglect that I have been subjected to over the years of our marriage. That my husband from very early on only cared about himself and never really loved me or cared about being a team: a joint unit. I’m a less naive person because of the affair. Blind trust is gone.

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