This article is for people who would like to stay in their marriages. This article is for people who would like tips on how to respond to a wayward spouse when a wayward spouse blames you for the affair.

blames you for the affair

By Sarah P.

If a betrayed spouse is done with a marriage, the best response is: “I am filing for divorce because you had an affair. All future communication will come through my attorney. Do not call me, email me, or approach me.”

Then a betrayed spouse needs to hire an attorney and ensure all communication goes through the best attorney they can afford, ensure they block the numbers of their wayward spouse, take an STD test, put a lock on all bank accounts, and take other measures to move on. (This is merely a recommendation, not professional advice).

However, if a betrayed spouse wants to repair a marriage and repair it, they will likely go through a phase where their wayward spouse outright blames them for the affair or goes through a phase where blame is implied.

Not everyone will experience this and if you do not experience being blamed, your communication will likely be more straightforward. 

But, for those betrayed spouses who are blamed, you will need a list of responses and actions you can take when it happens.

Remember, the only power a wayward spouse has is the power you give them.

Additionally, remember a wayward spouse’s number one tactic is blaming you for the affair and hoping you will believe their false narrative.

If they succeed in making you take the blame for their affair, your self-esteem will take a rapid dive into a metaphorical 500-foot deep canyon. That will really hurt when you reach the bottom.

Taking the blame when you are blameless will also be a disorienting experience and you will be busy finding your way back to the person you once were.

You have power by keeping your mental clarity and by refusing to take the blame for an affair.

Cheating is a choice; do not take the blame when your spouse chooses to cheat.


Change Your Thought Process – The Blame is Not Yours to Take


The Blame Game

There will be times a wayward spouse feels backed into a corner and the blame game begins. The blame game is their default mode because they feel entitled to the affair, they feel self-righteous about their actions, maybe they don’t care about their actions, or perhaps they are like a 4-year-old with their hand caught in the cookie jar.

“Hey Mom, if you actually fed me every hour, kept a jar of snacks next to my favorite chair in front the of TV, and kept my jar of treats all the time, then I would not have had to put my hand in the cookie jar. You know what? You are a terrible mom.”


For all the parents out there, most of us would laugh if our kids told us we had to have a special snack area next to their favorite chair and wait on them. Others might spank their kids for talking like that. (I am a laugher… I would laugh if my kids spoke like that.) But, the terrible mom part?

If my child told me I was a terrible mom, I would focus on the words “terrible mom” and forget about the cookie jar. I would be taken aback and ask myself, “Am I really a terrible mom? Could that really be true? What if it is true… oh no, I have just ruined my kid’s lives by not giving them the childhood they deserve. They will grow up to be deadbeats and addicts and it’s all because of me!”

Then I would burst into tears.

Okay, that was actually supposed to make you laugh; it was over-dramatized. But, for those of us whose worst fear is being a “bad parent” and if our child figures this out, they will know they can pull out the “you are a bad parent” card when they want to distract us from something….

You: “Son, you got C’s all semester. What happened, sweetie?”

Son: “Your are a BAD PARENT, that is what happened.”

You: “Sweetie, I just found some cigarettes in your backpack… who bought these for you?”

Daughter: “Well, duh… you are a BAD PARENT. If you weren’t such a bad parent I wouldn’t have to smoke just to keep my mind of how bad your are.”

You get the picture… the blame game can be used to ensure that the person who did something wrong is not held accountable.

But, you have to take the bait for the blame game to work.

A long time ago, a friend told me that when you are dealing with someone who has harmed you, has denied their harm, and has distracted you by bringing out your faults, and playing the “blame game,” you must metaphorically “back them into a corner and nail their feet to the floor” until they are willing to tell the truth.

We know that gaslighters are excellent at playing the blame game and if you are married to one, you must nail their feet to the floor.

A Quick Guide to Recognizing and Responding to Gaslighting

The Blame Game Can Also Turn Into Emotional Abuse

Kellie Jo Holly said…

“Verbal abuse, in essence, seeks to destroy your perception of your Self. The abuser sees you as the enemy to his way of life, and therefore will do everything in his power to diminish your mind, body, and soul to nothing and rebuild you in his image. Your abuser wants you to be non-existent, or at least weak and defeated, so he can define you as exactly what he wants you to be: his slave.

But you didn’t know this was his goal. Over time, you didn’t notice that you gave of yourself but he contributed nothing. You cited his rotten childhood or made some excuse that fed your desire to help him to overcome his horrid life situation, drawing yourself into codependency and taking on responsibility for his thoughts and actions.

Having No Personal Boundaries Empowers Your Abuser and Makes You Disappear

You succumbed to his thoughts about you more than you honored to your own. You gave of yourself to the point that he has (almost) won complete control over your thoughts and feelings about yourself. He thinks you are nothing; you think you are worthless.

You believe that you are nothing without him. You think that life without him is akin to death. You don’t realize that you, as you were meant to be, are already dead. He’s murdered you bit by bit, and gets away with it because your shell still walks among us.” 


How does that apply to infidelity? It applies because the blame game can turn into verbal abuse and you must be on guard. Do not allow your wayward spouse to define you.

Word War

The blame game is kind of like a metaphorical game of dodge ball. You have to be nimble enough to avoid the ball when it is thrown at you.  You must recognize when a wayward spouse is attempting the blame game and be nimble and ready.

Each time they throw a “word ball,” you must dodge it and then come back with the facts.

A wayward spouse’s typical “blame template” looks like this:

If you wouldn’t have done (fill in the blank) I would not have had to cheat on you.


If you would have been (insert quality) I would not have had to cheat.

OR the worst…

You were such a bad wife/husband to me and you absolutely disgust me.

the blame for infidelity

Responses for When Your Spouse Blames You For the Affair

“Cheating is a choice and I refuse to take responsibility for your character flaws.”

“Trying to blame me for your affair is almost as disgusting as your affair.”

“You need to see a therapist and figure out why you are a person who is untrustworthy and incapable of keeping promises.”

“If you want to talk about bad spouses, you are the only bad spouse here since you lied, cheated, and broke the most sacred contract two individuals can enter into.”

“You are not allowed to define me, put me down, or create non-existent flaws. You are the one who is flawed and that is evidenced by the fact that you cheated.”

“You are in control of yourself and your actions and you take full responsibility for your choices and actions.”

“I refuse to listen to or believe your lies.”

“There are no excuses for your behavior.”

“Don’t talk to me until you are ready to stop blaming me for your poor choices.”

Here is the thing about adultery; it can be abusive and the blame game is also abusive. It is important to familiarize yourself with emotional abuse in general because many tactics of abuse are the same tactics used by wayward spouses.

Kellie Jo Holly added about abuse…

“You must know what you are fighting for if you hope to successfully defeat Abuse. If you do not know what you are fighting for, then you may as well surrender to slavery. You create the boundaries; you enforce the boundaries. No one else can do this for you.

Develop personal boundaries to define your territory. Personal boundaries are not drawn in the sand where you can adjust them depending on what the person possessed by Abuse does. The boundary that limits your mother is the same one that limits your husband because no matter what person presents an attack, you know that Abuse is the one you face.

Personal boundaries are not punishments (although Abuse will tell you it is being punished and that you are evil for drawing the line). Personal boundaries are the walls to your castle. No one, no idea or insult, enters that castle but the ideas (your knights in shining armor) who defend you against Abuse.

Once you have some success in protecting yourself, you will see that you are not powerless after all.”


Even though this author above was not specifically talking about an affair, her advice is relevant to betrayed spouses who are fighting for their sanity and who are redefining how their spouse is allowed to treat them. You are fighting for your marriage and your sanity. You are fighting for all that is good and right in the world.

Note, if a wayward spouse whines and complains and argues over a new boundary you have set, you are on the right path. Like the child with the hand in the cookie jar, the wayward spouse will fight to keep whatever so-called privilege you are “taking away.”

The more he or she (the wayward spouse) fights about the boundary, the more you (the betrayed) need to enforce it.

During recovery, your marriage can feel like the Wild West and you are the new sheriff. You need to ride into town on your noble steed, wearing your white hat, and announce, “There is a new sheriff in this here town and ya’ll are gonna do things my way from now on.”


After the Affair – Control the Affect of the Cheater’s Choices


Your Mindset

You must understand that until your wayward spouse is ready to look at themselves and take the blame, they will blame you.

You will be their target and they will have built up a huge story in their heads about why you caused them to cheat.

You cannot change that mindset they are in, but you can stand up to them and state the truth every time they state a lie.

But, the most important thing you can do is keep perspective and equilibrium. You must always stay in the mindset that you were not the cause of the problem, you did not create the problem in your spouse, and you cannot fix it.

Your wayward spouse must fix himself or herself.

All you can do is stand strong and constantly refute anything your spouse says that assigns blame to you. You must stay in the mindset that they caused their own problem and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it.

None of us can control others and so we are not able to control others and ensure they do not do something terrible.

Now, a huge caveat—there are some environments that bring out the worst in people and other environments that bring out the best in people.

For example, if a “recovered/sober alcoholic” were hired to be a bartender, this is an environment that has the ability to bring out the worst in that person. If this same recovered alcoholic worked for an in-patient treatment center as a therapist who helped others recover, this could bring out the best in a person.

So, in real life, we must consider the circumstances under which a spouse had an affair. The circumstances do not change the fact that a spouse made a choice to have an affair.

However, I believe that if a person wants to save their marriage, external influences need to be examined. External influences never make cheating right or provide excuses, but they can inform the cheater of personal weaknesses and point the cheater in the direction of what kind of psychological help they need to get so that such weaknesses don’t have such power over them.

These experiences can be used by a couple to learn more about each other, the wayward partner’s weaknesses, the wayward partner’s ways of thinking, his or her assumptions, and provide other ideas for discussion. Of course, this advice is given with the assumption that a couple would like to recover their marriage.

Do not forget that you as a betrayed spouse have the power. You are in the RIGHT, despite the times your wayward spouse tells you that you were in the wrong. Do not accept it or internalize. Do not allow your wayward spouse’s criticisms to gain a foothold in your mind.

They will disempower you and lead to no good.

Also, I don’t care if you are male or female, I do not care what race you belong to, how old you are, what you weigh, or what you look like.

A wayward spouse might attempt to use one of these things to disempower you, but do NOT buy into it.

Betrayed spouses…

You are NOT defective.

You are lovable and YOU are perfect just the way you are.

I am not saying this to make you feel good; I am saying it because it is the truth. There is no reliable psychological data that would tie infidelity to any of these aspects.

There is nothing about you that caused your spouse to cheat. Nothing.

They chose it and it is all about THEM; not you.

What About You?

If you are a betrayed spouse, do you recall things you said to your wayward spouse that caused them to have a breakthrough?

Do you have any stories about the lengths a wayward spouse went to in order to shift blame onto you? How did you handle it? How did it make you feel?

Readers who have been with us for a while… what advice do you have for new readers? What thing did you wish you knew while you were going through affair recovery?

New readers… is there something in particular you are struggling with? Please let us know.


Photo:  Magdalena Roeseler


    26 replies to "What to Say When a Wayward Spouse Blames You for the Affair"

    • Exercisegrace

      So many things came to mind when I read this post. It’s a good one!

      When we first went to counseling, my husband tried on the idea of blaming our marriage for his affair: I was too focused on the kids, he magnanimously admitted he worked too much, etc. I shut that down QUICK. I stated (in front of our therapist) that I was there to deal with HIS affair. I was there because HE begged for (and was provisionally granted) a second chance. I was there to figure out if and how we could repair the damage HIS choices had done to not just our marriage, but to our children and family.

      I told husband and therapist that I was not open to discussing the marriage at that time. Why? Because people are imperfect, and relationships are imperfect, and there is not a single one on this planet that is 100% where it needs to be. A marriage is a living, breathing covenant. If someone chooses an affair over their spouse, that is the lowest most despicable thing a person can to do to their family. Cheaters have so many other options available to them. Yet some deep-seated character flaw allowed them to make the choices they did. Anyone’s cheating spouse come to them with their concerns prior to the affair? Seek counseling? Ask you to attend marriage counseling? No?? Me either. I was blindsided. Focusing on what the marriage could or should have been, focusing on what you should have done or not done as a spouse is a cop out. It’s a smoke screen. It’s blameshifting at its finest. In the initial stages of affair recovery, there is no WE. The focus needs to initially be on the cheater. The only focus on the betrayed spouse needs to be in terms of supporting their recovery.

      We would never stand at the bedside of a person gravely burned from a deliberately set house fire and ask them how they might have prevented it, how they plan to protect against such a thing in the future. We wouldn’t say…but didn’t you see this coming?

      If the cheating spouse is serious about making amends, they will quickly move past the blaming stage, and move on to taking responsibility for their actions. This is how you know their remorse is real.

      Lastly, any blame shifted to the marriage is typically a historical re-write. A work of fiction authored by the cheater and the AP to lessen their guilt. To make themselves feel better about their soulless choices. Don’t buy in. Let them drink their own koolaid. There will be a time further down the road to talk about rebuilding the marriage and what you want it to look like going forward. This isn’t that time. This is the time for the cheater to put their money where their mouth is. PROVE they are truly remorseful and willing to change. If their walk doesn’t match their talk? RUN!

      • Sarah P.

        Hi ExerciseGrace,

        100% spot on! You handled that amazingly. In the past, I would not have had the presence of mind to talk about the affair. I would have been blind-sided and drawn into the “pick me dance.” I would have thought I was the horrible person instead of saying, “Why is your hand in someone else’s cookie jar?” I would have said, “Her cookie jar is better” and I would have sobbed for weeks.

        So glad I know better now. If it were to happen today, there would be hell to pay IF I had definitive and factual proof that could not be disputed. I have found that many people would take the lie as far as they can and that is why indisputable proof is necessary. However, I have also seen people caught ‘red handed’ and they are not even shocked. They say things like “Yah, so I did X. Deal with it.” And they won’t feel an ounce of shame.

        Nonetheless, don’t let people off the hook. They must feel the consequences of their actions and feel them fully. Sometimes they must feel as broken as the betrayed spouse has felt before they fully understand.

        Thankfully many wayward spouses are insightful and cut off the affair and do the right thing. For those who do not, they must have consequences until they finally understand and humbly ask for forgiveness. Oh and they also must truly change too- like EG said, they must walk the walk OR betrayeds can run!

      • Alb811

        Wow! Exercisegrace those were some empowering words! This has been a continuous struggle in our recovery. Currently, the AP just got fired from the school board. The story is an anonymous tip with a pic attached was sent and prompted an investigation. So why am I being blamed well……
        I found inappropriate pics on my husbands email account. These pics had been sent through the AP’s work email. I forwarded the emails to myself for safe keeping in case I needed to use them as leverage or to figure out the continued lies. A close friend and I talked about it and I confided that I should probably just delete them. The fact that they are sitting in my inbox disgusts me. She suggested I send to her to save and then delete from my phone. So I did. When this came to light, my husband who was doing well in recovery turned on me! I can almost laugh at what he said “You have gone too far now! How could you think about ruining someone’s life like that? Her kids are gonna have to switch schools now! You don’t go after someone professionally!” WTF bud. Now your worried about destroying lives and hurting families?! And fortunately it wasn’t me who reported her. I notified the principal that I had an issue with an anonymous teacher and it was of a personal nature. However she could have no contact with my son at all. I wanted to see if I could get my son reassigned to another school, request teacher transferred or any other options.

        The thing is, she is an adult who chose to send inappropriate pics via her work email. That is a government entity. He is an adult who chose to keep said emails once received. So we’ve established she took pics, sent to him, he kept, I found, got mad and forwarded to myself and friend for safe keeping. She got fired! But it was MY ACTIONS that were a direct result of her losing her job! I mean really?! He even said did you talk to anyone about finding the emails? Of course I did! What does he expect me to do as he turns my life upside down? Sit back and care for the kids, work full time believe his lies and just take it?!

        Now he thinks he’s a hero because he talked her out of calling the cops on me!! There were no nude pics and she is definitely not a minor so I don’t see how anything I did was illegal?!

        This is my nightmare! But thank you for the reminder that this is NOT MY FAULT!

        • Broken

          Omg, similar sorry for me. Husband had an affair with a family friend, who was also my child’s kindy teacher last year. She wasn’t fired as she moved schools but she was asked to leave. I’m putting in a formal complaint though, I’m not done with her yet. Scrag.
          I’m so sorry that happened to you. I had no access to hi phone or emails so I never found anything, thank god.
          How did it all work out for you?

    • Bor

      Since the very beginning until even last week. Still get the blame thrown at me. In counseling yesterday she did not throw the blame my way. i think she was playing nice for the counselor who records the session. I know i have been tempted in situations where no one else would have know what i did, but i still didn’t. With that knowledge i have never bought into my fault for her decisions. We have choices, and the cheater knew they were hiding and living a secret second life. If I would have know she was up to, I would have put a stop to it and then the story of disconnection would go up in smoke. When the “we were disconnected” is thrown at me, i get so pissed. Yeah i was in the same disconnection. Initiating sex regularly only to be put off with numerous answers why it was not going to happen. So the disconnection seemed to be from her stand point of not putting effort into solving her disconnection at any point. the movie sideways is such a good example of the plain choices people make to cheat. I won’t get caught so who is getting hurt? What a selfish life to live only to think of yourself. I think cheaters fail to take account at any point of their own moral compass. I guess there is too many people out there who never do. Other wise cheating wouldn’t be such a common thing.

      I agree with EG. if this is your new reality make sure your counselor knows that the Marriage is not to be discussed until the affair is dealt with and ask how the counselor is going to do that? Any other answer then hold the US accountable for their shitty actions should be a sign to look elsewhere.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Bor,

        I am going to speak frankly, so please do not be offended.

        Bor, I cannot imagine how pissed and hurt you must be to know that when your wife was finding excuses not to have sex, it was because sex was elsewhere. That would royally piss me off and frankly I am not sure I could get over it.

        Note: This is a VERY different situation than a woman who is unable to have intercourse due to extreme pain during sex or due to serious health issues of any kind. This is NOT the same thing as a wife who gets sex elsewhere. A woman who is truly unable to have intercourse due to issues out of her control deserves compassion and understanding and should never be judged.

        But for one partner to be in need of physical connection with their spouse and to be turned down over and over again SOLELY because the spouse turning them down was getting sex elsewhere is SO WRONG on so many levels. The spouse initiating sex wants sex and the spouse turning it down wants sex too- only they want it with someone else and so they have sex elsewhere. That is such a cruel thing to do to the loyal spouse who desires sex and is only being turned down because their spouse is getting it elsewhere.

        Also, everyone on this earth will have at least one opportunity to have sex elsewhere and never get caught. (Barring getting STDs etc). Anyone in the world can slip off their wedding ring, head to a bar, make up a story, use a fake name, and pay for a hotel in cash. The field I worked in was the perfect environment for affairs. We were always being sent on business trips, we had locking desks where we could keep burner phones and condoms. We did not have to clock in or out. We could out a bogus meeting in our calendar during the day and walk across the street to a hotel. We had computers no one could access, our own phone lines, many had their own (locking) offices, we had an onsite gym and showers. The work environment had everything anyone needed to carry on a work affair and then shower and brush their teeth before heading home. Someone could live a double life and it would be impossible for a spouse to know. Honestly, this is why I HATE corporate environments. People make their own schedules, there is little oversight, and as long as work gets done, no one pays attention. The environment is literally set up to have an affair without getting caught. I truly hate that about the corporate world. And I am living proof. Somehow my fiance worked several cubes over on the same floor and still carried on an affair under my nose. We were on different teams and kept different hours but it was a bold move on his part.

        Bor, what’s up with your wife? Do you think she is someone who is capable of accountability or is capable of becomoing a high self monitor (that is think before you act)?

        • Bor

          Don’t know or at least i can’t fully trust that she can at this point in time. We are doing EFT therapy and the issue of sex is yet to come up. We just had our first couple after our IC’s. What did get thrown at me is that she has asked me to have an IC with our old counselors to ask them if i am controlling. I said we had over two hundred sessions with the two counselors never once was the word controlling thrown at me. I don’t think i need to go ask them now that we are no longer seeing them. Then today I was at affair recovery blog. Samual’s video was just on that what does it mean when the US throws the you’re controlling. I totally agree with his take. I am sick of her excuses and doubt her ability to be accountable. It gets worse lately because a women she met at her energy retreat was the AP that broke up a marriage(16 years difference in age). My wife met her while in her affair and they roomed together at the 4 day retreat. That was 4 days after i discovered her affair. As you can imagine she had no judgement of my wife. go figure that would be calling out herself for her shitty morals. Now i have reason to worry as when my WW relapsed for the second time she was very supportive of her “happiness” and didn’t say nice things about me or even take the kids into account. I call this woman my wifes cheerleader. I have told her i really don’t think this woman who is 16 years younger than my W has any thing to teach my wife. I hate to think this person is influencing my W. Yet my wife says i am trying to control her. I feel its just that i don’t think this person is a good moral compass and having her around my wife sends the wrong message to my kids plus she would never hold my wife accountable and would most likely tell her to follow her heart. My daughter knows she was the one to break the marriage up. I have hope that the new EFT counselor at least can get my wife to have empathy for me and call her out on her shit. The AP was kind of an energy worker he was into all kinds of woo woo stuff. It seems she still has a ton of the Ap ideas floating around in her head. From the little i gathered from her he basically like to think he could shift energy to get peoples reality to change or heal. My wife now is in that land of woo woo and i just wonder who next is her heart going to say is a soulmate.

          • Hopeful

            I think ultimately the wayward needs to be responsible 100% for their actions. My husband did pretty quickly. One other aspect that we went back and forth on was his other decisions in life. My husband happened to be highly successful and responsible with money. So I guess through all of that we never had issues with that area of our life. However for me it was his other decisions. Who did he spend time with when not with us. All I can speak of is my husband and I would imagine other waywards would be similar. But something is missing, wrong or off in them that they make these bad decisions. And it rarely is just some fluke or one bad decision. I would imagine most people it is not a one night stand and nothing else. My husband described it well that his boundaries shifted so gradually he did not recognize it. Behaviors he would have never allowed at a very young age all of a sudden were okay with him. And also just like for example drunk driving, it would be very rare for someone to get caught drunk driving the first time they ever drove drunk. They probably did it dozens if not hundreds of times. Did the realize it probably not. We got over the cheating etc but then it was the shift to everything else in my husband’s life. The cheating was not in isolation. He also cut corners so guess what the people he hung out with cut corners. And why? It made him feel better about his crappy behavior. And of course my husband always defended these people and their less than great behavior. I would say this aspect of working on our relationship took a lot longer than getting over the betrayal. And it has been hard. Most of my husband’s friends are from grade school etc. These are not people he just became friends with in the past 20 years. Luckily the least desirable one who introduced the two ow is out of our lives. And interesting enough he fed to my husband that I was elitist and too good for him.

            I think going back to your old therapists about the controlling aspect sounds odd. It sounds like she is diverting, off track and not focused on the current issue. My therapist early on said that this was on my husband. He had to make the choice to change and make amends. All trust and freedom was completely gone. That was a gift I gave him and he threw it away. It sounds like she has a lot of work to do still individually the way she is talking and demanding.

          • Mike

            Hi Bor
            I have a similar situation if you are open to discuss?

    • Hopeful

      I agree with all of this. My husband knows how to use his words and threw things at me. I remember on dday, “come on you had to know something was not right…”. Then I said to him what about when I asked if you ever spent time or had interest from other women when out with the guys or on guys trips. I looked him in the eye and had asked him that several times through the years. He each time looked me in the eye and said no, nothing like that ever happens. I corrected all of that fast and told him that this was on him. He was the one to make these horrible decisions when he has the education and the background to know better. He has since admitted he would even hear himself screaming to stop in his mind but he did not. My therapist was awesome and said very bluntly that my husband had all the trust in the world and threw it away. He lost it all. Now it is what I want. And he can deal with it if he wants a second chance.

      • Sarah P.


        Unfortunately, there are many therapists who know better and then go and do it anyway.

        I wanted to tell you something interesting. I was supposed to be putting together an extended interview with a retired sex therapist who worked as one for 40 years. He was a very strong Christian. He became very ill and was hospitalized with something very serious and terminal. Was not able to finish the interviews.

        But, in the beginning when we were talking about sex addiction in general and if it is “real,” he said it was very real. We were talking about the issue of affairs in he church. He said the people at his church were the worst and he was very upset that Christians were the ones having the most affairs. He said society has gone completely crazy and I agree. Anyhow, I really wanted to know if he believed sex addiction was a real diagnosis or if it is the ‘get of out jail free’ card that people like Ben Affleck and Anthony Weiner use when they get into trouble. What he told me was that in his opinion, 90% of men had “problems with sex.” I asked what that meant. He said even the best men are barraged with thoughts all day long of a sexual nature. He said as a Christian he prays to be relieved of these burdens and he and his wife always go everywhere together. He said sex (In regards to fidelity) was the biggest issue men have, but he also said that they do NOT have to succumb to urges. There are many things they can do to ensure they don’t have affairs. He said the sex addicts who couldn’t help themselves found themselves in his office. He says these men would curl up on the floor and bawl like babies. He said they would say things like, “I love my wife so much and I never want to lose my family. But I couldn’t resist (lady X) when she made her advances.” I asked him if he believed if that was just an act or if it was sincere. He said many of these men had hit rock bottom and had lost everything. I asked what was going on inside their heads… what did they tell themselves to excuse their behavior?

        Here is the important part. He said that almost every man said something to this effect, “Every fiber in my being was aware what I was doing was wrong and inexcusable and my mind was screaming STOP the whole time, but I did it anyways.”

        So he said men didn’t have excuses. They knew it was wrong, their mind was screaming to stop, and they did it anyways. They did not rationalize it to him. They knew it was wrong, they wanted to stop, and the were on their hands and knees desperately wanting to know how to stop.

        This gentleman had so much information that is not out there. He had so much to share and I am so sad he got so ill. He was a very nice man and one of the most interesting people I have ever met.

        He believed his clients. Of course he said there were men looking for excuses, but he would refuse to counsel them. He would only take men who were ready to be fully accountable and to blame themselves for their actions. So, his clients were pre-selected. For those people, he did believe that the addiction was real and he said their suffering was driving them crazy.

        I can’t say if sex addiction is real or not because this is not my area of expertise. I have not counseled people through sex addiction for 40 years, however, I can spot a misdiagnosis of sex addiction immediately.

        It doesn’t matter what it is called… the bottom line is, it destroys families.

        I hope your husband knows it is up to him to earn your trust…it’s 100% on him and will never be a given. Hopeful, does your husband appreciate you as much as you need to be appreciated? I sure hope he does. He has an amazing wife and this was his failing. But, the most amazing wife in the world cannot prevent someone who is broken from acting out. I have lived it.


        • Hopeful


          You are so sweet. That is so kind of you to say. Thank you! It means a lot since I know when you say something like that you mean it.

          At first after dday it was confusing to me since my husband had been sweet, kind and affectionate to me often even during the affair years. I have stacks of thoughtful cards with amazing paragraphs written by him. I have original poems he wrote me. And many times day to day he was very complementary. I heard often you are an amazing person, an amazing mom, so driven. He always found ways to compliment me. Of course this was not all the time he was also detached and would gas light me at different times. All I can think is that it went with the sporadic nature of the two affairs. Which was confirmed and confusing for him too as I told you about our conversation we had the other week. But saying all of that at first it was hard for me to trust or even believe what he said after dday. My therapist really helped me work through that all in a safe way.

          He is very appreciative now towards me. Sometimes it can be overwhelming or he seems too happy with himself and me. I know hard to think that is possible but he exudes it. Of course everything is not perfect all the time. What has changed is I speak up and call him on it immediately. He will tend to give some excuses or justifications but I just continue with telling him how I feel. Not focusing on his actions but making him realize what he does affects me. And that is the realization that I cannot control him or his decisions. I can be perfect but that will not stop him. I tell this to my kids often about friends or others in their lives. You can only control yourself and your decisions. You cannot control others. They will reveal themselves.

          What an amazing interview you were conducting. And that is crazy. That is what my husband said he was telling himself. And you are right it is all on him. He said professionally many men talk about being tempted or wanting to leave their wives. Many feel too guilty, are lazy or know the financial implications. Lots of them talk about wanting to leave their wives or current relationships. I do think he sees the good he can carry through in his work after going through what he/we have. I find that comforting that he is helping others in a new way with a new perspective.

    • TryingHard

      Initially on DDay and aftermath i blamed myself of course. And the biggest blame i placed in myself that was the hardest to get over and probably still am not, is how did i not see it? How was i so dense not to sense something was off? Well i did sense something. I did have red flags during that time but i brushed them off as being me being dramatic. Heck i found an earring in the back seat of his car!! There’s no bigger red flag than that other than lipstick on the collar and that wouldn’t have happened as the OW didn’t wear lipstick!

      Quickly my IC got me through that. But i still blame myself for being so stupid during that time. And so of course i go into hyper vigilance mode.

      My h never blamed me. Early on he tried to make excuses and used ancient history of our relationship to defend himself. I looked him square in the eye and didn’t say a word. I didn’t have to. He knew it was ridiculous to say.

      In MC he took the total blame. Didn’t blame me or the OW which selfishly pissed me off but MC straightened me out in that too. I wanted him to blame her. If he blamed her then there was nothing wrong with him. Stupid stupid me to think that. But thank God he didn’t blame me because if he had we wouldn’t be here today.

      In fact of course no ones narriage is perfect. Neither party in a narriage is perfect. And like others have said, during affair recovery it’s important not to conflate the marital problems or issues with the infidelity. Cheating happens becaus if poor coping skills. Not as a result of a good or bad marriage. Plenty of empirical information to support that.

      And no EG in fact he NEVER said ‘hey i think we have problems we need to work on. Let’s go to MC’. Because no, affairs happen insidiously. In fact NO, there were no great problems in our narriage at that time that required either of us to think we needed MC. And yes i do blame the OW for working it. I do know she def started the suggestions and communication with him. But he gladly followed and took her up on it

      As the others have said, shut that talk down immediately. There will be time down the road after the narriage has been mended from the destruction of the infidelity.

      Dealing with marital issues in the midst of affair recovery is like hanging new curtains in a home that just burned down !! If your narriage doesn’t make it through affair recovery, talking about marital issues is a moot point.

    • Shifting Impressions

      EG and TH you have both said it so well!!! I agree totally.

      Many years ago my mother-in-law received a letter from her sister in Europe telling the sad story of how her husband left her for another woman…one of her neighbors. I was just a young woman at the time but the pain in that letter was heartbreaking. I have never forgotten how she spoke about being kicked to curb like a piece of garbage.

      That is the heartbreak…initially we are so devastated that we wonder why we were “not enough”!! And when “so called experts” have us believing there must have been something “wrong” with the marriage for this to have happened we are “victimized” all over again.

      I absolutely love the sentiment that “cheating happens beacause of poor coping skills”.

      This week I reached the milestone of “five years since d-day”. In many ways I feel like a survivor…I am still standing. In those early days we are in crisis….we are broken. We are a sitting duck for anyone to take aim and blame us. The scars resulting from my husband’s poor choices will always be there.

      Run from anyone that seeks to blame you or “fix the marriage” without dealing with the infidelity. Don’t believe the thoughts of self doubt. “If” and that’s a big if….there were problems in the marriage (and most of us don’t have perfect marriages) there are better ways of dealing than cheating. Because after someone cheats there is a fallout of epic proportions!!!

    • The Unfaithful

      Thank you for the article, as it validates something I learned early after D-Day, which is that blaming my spouse and not fully accepting responsibility for my infidelity would severely delay or even prohibit restoration and healing.

      So I fully accept blame and responsibility for my actions and I don’t blame my spouse one bit. I also fully accept the boundaries that I have to abide by in order to stay in the house with my spouse and our kids as we work on being a family and saving the marriage.

    • Rose

      Well…I understand why I will NEVER be enough for him, but that’s not my fault. I am sure he doesn’t understand it but I do. He needs NEEDY abusive women. He’ll save them. I’m not a needy, abusive woman and never will be. Not a chance.

    • TryingHard

      Hi Rose—it seems a common theme that men will sometimes “affair down “ so to speak. Some men like that ego strike of being powerful over someone who needs them. I know this was true in my case. My h really affaires down. Hard to wrap your head around for sure.

      The Unfaithful—. I’m glad you realized not to blame your h for your poor choices. Not to say he hasn’t contributed the the breakdown of your marriage. It def takes two to do that. But having an affair doesn’t help a marriage. In fact it often implodes a marriage. I hope you understand men see affairs much differently than women. Especially if it was a physical affair. I hope you are showing remorse for what you did because your affair has caused him a lot of pain. It’s truly something he may never fully accept or get over. Reconciliation is not for sissies. It’s a marathon for sure. Five steps forward and four steps back. I wish you all the best in your recovery

    • Cary

      This is a great article and something I needed to read. My ex cheated with a client of my business and shocked the family with an announcement that it was “over” with a cruelty and harshness only a high school student would use after a 1 week relationship. I was devastated and my kids were in shock – it came out of nowhere with no signs whatsoever. She denied the affair yet stole money from my business account and went to Jamaica with this guy less than 1 month later (while I was visiting my parents in Florida with our 3 children aged 15,14 and 10 at the time). She tried to hide this trip from me but when sending me emails that week I checked the headers for the source IP address and traced her in Jamaica
      I could write a book about her projections and character assassinations but the following story sums it up pretty good and speaks to both her and her boyfriends character:
      Immediately after the announcement it was over she tried to get me to leave the matrimonial home. I simply told her that if she is seeking happiness outside the home then she can leave herself. We ended up doing a nesting arrangement week on week off for a while. During her weeks in the home with the kids she and her boyfriend did everything they could to make it unbearable for me – There was a chalkboard in the kitchen with an engraving titled “Why I love You” and her and the boyfriend wrote love notes to each other on it. My ex left lingerie and lingerie bills around, left pictures around of their every 2nd week vacations scuba diving, sea-doing, restauranting etc…you get the picture. Basically the more I ignored it and acted strong for myself and my kids sake the more they upped the game – all of this visible to the kids. What kind of person and what kind of man does this sort of thing? And of course I constantly hear through the grapevine that she claims that I poison the kids about her and her boyfriend! He is 14 years older than her and retired so she hasn’t worked for 4 years and they vacation every 2nd week. She is now 44. So basically she poisons them herself. She is upset because my kids can’t stand this guy – and why should they. He barged into the matrimonial home about 2 months after this started when the wound was fresh – so he gets what he deserves.
      I can’t have a single interaction with this woman without her gaslighting and morphing everything into a huge mess. I can’t co-parent with her because how can you co-parent with someone I described above? This is not a person with a conscience and frankly I believe that the only reason she even takes the kids every 2nd week is because of the “perception” it would create about her….

    • SoSad

      My husband had never admitted to his EA…4 years ago….we are basically co-parenting until our kids are out of school. Once in awhile he’ll say something like, “Well I guess we are done”…4 years ago…he refused to talk about it…saying, “We talk about the same thing 5,000 times and I’m not talking about it anymore.”. We talked about the same thing because each time he turned it around on me…so that we went down a rabbit hole talking about my shortcomings….never talked about the things he did…the things that ripped me apart and took away the life we had.
      I’ve been blamed that it’s all because of perimenopause….no symptoms of this and never an issue until I found out that he had a secret “friend” at work…I knew about everyone else he worked with….never heard her name until I saw a text from her on his phone pop up one night….been told that the past 26 years have been horrible….although I have years worth of little notes that he’d leave me saying otherwise….he told me that all men “rate” women as if they’d sleep with them or not and that although he thinks she’s attractive, rated her as such and I’d daily see him prepping to go work with her…never saw these preps in 26 years….eg. hair gel never worn since our wedding day….she was only a friend…
      After he left and moved to a different job…I went to see her…not ready to fight with her…I still was trying to figure out if things were as he said….she denied everything but immediately called to tell him about it saying how afraid she was that….me only at this point finding out….her husband would find out that she was having a 2 year affair with “another guy” from the same company….
      Did he side with me? Nope! Flew out the door and ran to her to make sure she was ok.
      When I was crying telling him that I was afraid, his comment was “What about her? Don’t you think she’s afraid that her husband is going to find out?”
      That runs through my head daily.
      Not sure at this point if I can ever get iver this…4 years…
      Most recently he’s told me that I’ve always had a jealousy issue that’s always effected our marriage….I realize it’s a blame game…he’s gone on trips with women from work in the past….I fully trusted him at the time…because I knew the women and trusted them….
      Him blaming me only sets in stone why I am going to have to leave at some point.
      It’s torture for me some days….I want my kids to have their family and their lives…..she and he took that from me….I won’t let it happen to my kids.

    • Rosie

      Two years after finding out about his betrayal of trust and subsequent ten months of lies, further betrayal of trust and blame thrust at me I have reached a place of peace. I cannot leave due to my poor health and our entwined finances, but I now don’t care. I’ve accepted that his innate self-centredness means he is not capable of putting our relationship before his desires. I accept that he is not the person I loved and that he is incapable of giving me the care and respect that I expect when someone says they love me. Based on past behaviour and his lack of acceptance of responsibility for his actions, I expect he will cheat again and I don’t care for he can’t hurt me again. It’s not been an easy place to get to, and were I still able to work I would leave. But I can’t, and this is the best I can do for me. Our profoundly deep, loving relationship is irretrievably broken, but has been replaced by a different relationship that fulfills my need to live safely. I’m just saying there is light at the end of this tunnel, though not the light you may hope to find.

    • DL

      Hey Sarah P, I posted on another thread and somehow I think you may have missed my response. I was the guy addicted to porn and ended up having compulsions and acting out as a result and I had some abusive tendencies, I didn’t have an affair with a person but my wife did. Well we’re 11 months on and she said last night that she’s sorry she hurt me, but she says that I’m to blame and that “you’ve only got yourself to blame” for what I did. Yes I did do things wrong in the marriage but I have repented and I have stopped those behaviours and I’m doing everything that is being asked of me. We’ve had a time or full separation and now I’m sleeping in another room but in the same house. She just says she’s not sorry for having the affair, she did it because she wanted me to divorce her, but I didn’t, instead I saw my wrongdoing and I sought restoration and have ever since. I said, “you may have initially cheated for that, but you went back to him and even though you’ve split from him after 2 months (ended last November) you’ve continued to feed the belief he was your soulmate”. She just won’t take responsibility for her wrongdoing, she just blames me. She ambivalent about us, but she Has at times drawn me in and then she says her feelings intensify for this guy when she gets close to me. It’s very difficult to know how to move forward 🙁 – she refuses to work on the affair part of things, even though I’ve been working on me and my part. The thing is, we’ve discovered a lot about ourselves our boundaries and working on us, but she has a lot of people who just support her and tell her to run a mile from me, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who says what she did was wrong and that she needs to own it..

    • Moving-On

      Reading this blog in Dec2021. First of all it is a well written article and I believe fits pretty much everyone’s story going through the trauma of infidelity (emotional and/or physical). I am going through the same and reality is setting in that I was subjected to DV for 11 years, the length of emotional affair of my wife until I accidentally stumbled upon it. From the moment I confronted my wife with the proof she was ready with the blame shifting arsenal. The narrative is expanding by the day. I filed for divorce. I was convinced by her to re-consider for the sake of kids. My primary condition is for her to give an unconditional apology to me, my side of family and her side of family. The reaction to this is
      1. I have/will lose face, I should not have told family or friends
      2. We had a bad marriage for number of reasons, husband was 50% responsible, people shall know that husband was a monster yada yada yada.

      In short, the apology is to be served on the under current of the admission by the husband that he is monster who has been hurting is wife for 18 years (which is just not true)

      I have started running, I guess I just need to keep running. Any insights

    • Mike

      My wife tried to blame me. It came at the peak of an argument as she was walking out the door to go shopping (she had no intention of facing me after she said “… it’s all your fault I had an affair”.

      I knew she wouldn’t be back for an hour or so. So, I calmly, thoughtfully, packed a number of suitcases with all the stuff I thought she would need for the foreseable future. I put them out in driveway (for the neighborhood to see), walked back inside and locked the door.

      Due to extenuating circumstances at the time, I couldn’t KEEP her out. She got in the house after an hour or so, then refused to leave. She begged, pleaded, cried. I relented. However, she knew from that point on she was on thin, thin ice. Thankfully (or looking back, unfortunately) she acted accordingly. I stayed in the marriage and the next 15yrs were awful. Then, she died.

      Our time together post affair didn’t feel terrible, but it was. Looking back, I sincerely wish ~I~ had left the house that day and stayed that way. I wasted 15 years of my life on someone who wasn’t worth the time or effort. If I wipe away all the BS I fed myself and the rest of the world, the truth is I hated that woman from the very moment she confessed to her affair. When she passed away, oh sure, I was devestated…. for a short time. I quickly realized the devastation was the loss of “things as I know them”. My comfort zone was ripped assunder.

      I can honestly say, her passing provided me the opportunity to lead a happy life. I STILL deal with her betrayal. That is something that NEVER leaves you.

      So take it, or leave it…. but I recommend leaving a cheater as soon as possible.

      • Jules

        The feeling of betrayal goes deep in to our soul, we bury it , try to move on , people around us think we have , our unfaithful spouses can never fully comprehend the damage they’ve done , nothing will ever be the same
        Our sense of emotional safety and inner peace is taken away,
        I’m sorry for the pain you have carried for 15yrs, recovering from infidelity is also a grief process,
        Take care

    • Jules

      The Hurtful thoughts and words we have used against our cheating husbands and their beige vanilla cheating arse affair partners always come from a deep place of hurt within us . I’m not ashamed of that
      I have journalled a lot over the last couple of years . The one place I can be truly honest and raw about my feelings and emotions,
      I didn’t know my husbands affair partner , but I found one of her juvenile love letters to him , written on his birthday. Felt like I was back in high school. Calling my husband of 25 yrs her love, best friend and soul mate . The one person she can trust and rely on ! Oh please! How embarrassing for a grown woman in her forties to write this dribble .
      I can’t even write my husband a birthday card any more, it doesn’t feel authentic or genuine to me , she’s robbed me of that , even though I love my husband .
      This whole situation has stolen moments that were special to me .
      I feel the burden of it everyday, we have reconnected and he has worked hard to win me back , but I will never look at him the same way ever again, and I have known him for forty years . So sad that he risked everything for a woman that he never saw a future with
      He ended it on his terms A few years earlier before the affair was outed by me finding one of her letters to him .
      Like everyone on here it has been the biggest challenge of our married life , I feel traumatised by it all. I would love to have a day where it doesn’t enter my thoughts , that would be blissful, what has been done can’t be undone .. that is the sad truth if it all , my D Day Nov 2019

    • Sylvia

      Everything is personal, when the wayward spouse is engaged in an affair! Of course they think about the pain that his actions will cause to the innocent spouse! And they have the affair, regardless the pain that they will cause to the innocent part! They are not children, they know exactly what they are doing!

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