Boundaries After the Affair – How to Use Physical, Geographical, and Emotional Boundaries to Move Forward

 

boundaries after the affair

by Sarah P.

After you find out about your husband’s or wife’s affair, the very first thing that you must realize is that nothing will be normal again.

Your task is to create a new normal as a couple and that normal includes a marriage that will ultimately be better than before. But that requires both of you to work on your marriage and to co-create a new normal.

Still, even if your spouse doesn’t want to do much work, then the task will be up to you and you can create a new normal and you can even flourish as a human being.

The second most important thing that you need to do is set boundaries in place that will strongly discourage your spouse from backsliding and thus returning to the affair partner.

These boundaries will never be 100% foolproof because ultimately people do what they want to do. Thus, this article is about what boundaries to set, why they are important, and how to set them. I will discuss geographical, emotional, and physical boundaries that can be very helpful for the wellbeing of your marriage.

Before we jump into this, I want you to envision your cheating spouse as a type of addict. I think this is more than fair to say because of what happens when someone is deep into an affair. The affair and the feelings that are felt become very addictive.

I have noted before that the cocktail of neurochemicals that are released during affairs create a brain that is similar to a brain on heroin and cocaine. I think it’s easy to connect the idea of those in affairs to addicts.  Picture that your wife or husband is like a recovering alcoholic and then use the wisdom appropriate to such a situation.

For example, if you were dealing with a recovering alcoholic, you would also have the same geographical, emotional, and physical boundaries to set…

  • Geographically, you would ensure that your wife or husband takes a new route to work that does not include a strip of bars.
  • Emotionally, you would speak with your spouse about recognizing triggers and making sure that he/she has an accountability partner in AA who helps him/her stay sober.
  • Physically, you would ensure that there is no longer any type of alcohol in your home. No beer, no wine, no hard liquor, no cooking wine, and no flavored liqueurs in small bottles. All of it would have to go and you would ensure that there is no middle ground when we dealing with alcoholism. Rather, there is no middle ground with alcoholism if you want to help someone stay sober.

An alcoholic will hate these new boundaries even though he/she secretly knows they are for the best. Your spouse will also likely hate these newfound boundaries because they will help ensure that she stays sober too and doesn’t go back to the false euphoria she feels when with the affair partner.

Get into this mindset when it comes to your spouse’s affair because there simply cannot be a middle ground with boundaries in infidelity recovery. Anything involving the addiction (the other person) must be removed as thoroughly as possible. This is why I have identified the three major areas of boundary setting.

Just like a true alcoholic, your spouse will fight these boundaries and you will hear all kinds of manipulative and possibly persuasive things like: “I can handle it” or “I’m an adult and I don’t need all these rules” or the very immature “you are not the boss of me!” comment. (To that you can always say: “Well, since you are not interested in being the boss of you someone has to do the job.”)

Or your spouse might really up the ante and accuse you of being a control freak and then tell you a healthy relationship does not involve control. True, healthy relationships don’t involve control, but setting boundaries and expecting them to be adhered to is not control.

It is drawing lines in the sand that will help both of you and keep your spouse off a path of destruction. If your spouse wishes to stay in the marriage, then there are things that are expected of him/her that he/she needs to adhere to.

If the affair partner gets wind of new boundaries he or she will try to tell your spouse that you are controlling and an unhealthy person. The affair partner will make up lies that make you sound like the enemy.

So, be aware that you are ready to receive this type of feedback and then counter it with the idea that his affair has caused the rules to change and they cannot have it both ways. If your spouse chooses to remain in the marriage, then he/she will adhere to the boundaries. Your marriage needs to both recover and to be set up for success.

Some Examples… 

Now, before we get into boundaries after the affair, I wanted to present two different affairs in a man’s words. First, let’s consider RJ’s case since his represents many of the elements of the typical affair:

“When we were dating, she was very warm and affectionate toward me, but after our marriage, she never seemed to have the time. I’d just try to hug her when I’d get home and she’d pull her arms in or put her hands on my chest pushing me away. She didn’t like to kiss much or be close. Sex was much the same way… I never felt divorce was an option, so I believed I had to find a way to be happy. I turned to a woman that had previously worked in my office for help. We had been close friends for a long time, about 5 years. It was innocent at first, but didn’t stay that way for long. She had been one of those who had been meeting my unmet needs at work when they had not been met at home. She had been a warm and caring friend. But now she came to mean even more to me. One night the wheels came off and we gave in. It felt like we had been in love forever. I truly feel I’ve lost everything that I held dear, especially my values. Now I’m an unfaithful husband and I always will be. I hate that. I blame myself for failing, but I also blame my wife. If she would have only listened to me and given us the chance to work our problems out together.” (1)

Here is why RJ’s story is typical:

  • He met his affair partner at work
  • It had started out as a friendship (but actually sounds like it had been an emotional affair for a long time prior to becoming a physical affair)
  • RJ blames his wife for his affair and implies she caused it because he wasn’t getting enough attention at home
  • Ultimately, RJ feels shame but wants to still displace the blame onto someone else

Now, let’s look at Justin and Trish’s heartbreaking story. They were both solid Christians and they were both very involved at their local church. Justin had an affair with one of the church staff, who was also Trish’s best friend.

Justin says:

“Seven years ago today, everything changed. With four words, I cost my wife, family and so many around me what seemed like everything. “I’m having an affair.” With those words, my sin was exposed and life as we knew it came to an end. Over the next two days, God would crush my pride, give me a heart of repentance and lead me to an amazing Christian counselor. It would be another two weeks before Trish and I would speak. Two weeks after the affair came out, she called me on the phone. I don’t remember all that was said during that phone call, but I do remember how it ended.

“I hear you have been going to counseling,” Trisha said.

“I go every day but Friday.” I responded.

“I’m willing to go with you,” she offered.

For the next two and a half months we went to counseling every day but Friday. We moved to a new city, started a new life, and begged God to give us the grace needed to survive the damage of my choices.” (2)

Think that Justin’s experience was a one-of-kind? Think again:

Christian men are having an alarmingly difficult time abstaining from the sexual sins of viewing pornography and committing adultery on their spouses, according to a new national survey. Tragically, married Christian men are failing miserably when it comes to these sins, as 55 percent look at pornography at least once a month and 35 percent cheated on their spouses in an extramarital affair.” (3)

No one, not even those faithful to God, are immune to affairs. Those who have affairs are not able to fill the void within. Ultimately, I believe many affairs are about a gnawing loneliness, a discomfort in one’s skin, and a need for distraction from some kind of deeper pain.

Justin’s story is mainly typical in the way that he worked with his affair partner. The thing that was not necessarily typical was that the affair partner was also his wife’s best friend. (With friends like this, who needs enemies?) But, the main reason that his story interested me was because: he did not blame his wife and he set the boundaries necessary to rebuild.  His case demonstrates that the boundaries were successful and he and his wife are still married today. (I don’t know what Justin’s affair partner is like, but his wife Trish appears to be an absolute doll and Justin is one lucky guy. He has a lot for which to be grateful.)

I have come to believe that if a man is prone to cheating, he will find any excuse he can to do so. I believe that some men require two or more women in their lives because it is a reflection of their own insecurity and unsure footing in this world.

Having a wife and a mistress is ideal for them because they have a safe harbor to come home to each night (their wife) and they can ride the waves of excitement and instability with their mistress during the day. They always have a back-up woman.  Once they have sealed the deal with their wife/girlfriend they can now explore the excitement of unstable and volatile situations. They know that a volatile situation on its’ own can destroy them.

They are kind of like toddlers on the playground. They have their safe haven (mommy) who is sitting on the sidelines and they know they can go back to her at any time and have unconditional love and acceptance.

Meanwhile, they can explore the new and exciting world around them without fear knowing that it will not destroy them. They know they cannot go out and explore the exciting world without mommy there just out of reach.

I think modern marriages have unwittingly set up such a dynamic between spouses. Husbands and wives can often subconsciously feel like parent-child relationships. They don’t have to be this way, but it is a common fallback.

This same situation can happen with gender roles swapped. The husband can be the stable provider figure and the wife can act out her tween years. The wife can go date all the bad boys she wants while realizing she can always go home to ‘daddy’ when things get too difficult with the bad boy.

Not all women are like this, but some are. These might have been the women who were never able to tame the ‘bad boy’ enough for him to settle down. They ended up marrying the archetypal ‘good guys’ while never maturing enough to appreciate the good guy they married. They find their marriage to be a drudgery because for them at least the good guy is not exciting enough. If they are weak willed, it will be easy for them to have affairs. The good guy in this situation might be left feeling like he is lacking. But, it is not the good guy who is lacking, it is the woman who does not know how to appreciate him who is lacking.

 

boundaries after the affair

 

Let’s Explore Those Boundaries After the Affair

 

Geographical Boundaries

In a perfect world, your spouse would get a different job in another city and you two would move there together. If you have grown children, there is no need to take them, but if you have school-aged children they would obviously need to be included in this move. You need to move as a family unit rather than just sending your spouse to another city and leaving you and your children in a different town. That would not work very well in the long run.

In a best-case scenario, you would definitely move to a different city or state, a thousand miles from the affair partner. I believe it is something worthy of considering if you are able to do this. This was the case for Justin and Trish and it was successful for them.

Sometimes this might not be possible and so geographical changes can be made at a local level. If the other person works with your spouse, one of them should leave the job or be transferred. This could both include leaving a particular company or even making inter-departmental or team transfers within the same company.

Human Resources can be used as a very last resort as well. No one wants to involve them, but they can help. If your spouse must work with the other person, it is a good idea to have measures put in place that ensure they will not have frequent contact.

The same thing goes for churches or social groups. If the other person attends the same church or the same social functions, the wisest thing to do is to switch churches and start attending new social groups.

As the victim you might think that you shouldn’t be punished for someone else’s mistake and that is a true and a valid thought. But, wisdom would tell us that there needs to be a clear avoidance of functions where the other person will be. Seeing the other person, for you or your spouse, is not going to be a good thing because all kinds of emotions will be dredged up. Why willingly pour salt in a wound?

Another geographical thing to think about it is a case where either you or your spouse travel for work. If possible, be on the look out for new jobs or assignments close to home. They may not be available immediately, but keep looking for them so that your spouse can stay close to home. Make as many geographical changes as possible, even if you are not able to make large changes. Most people will not be able to make large changes and every little bit helps.

 

Emotional Boundaries

Most affairs start at work and they involve a married individual becoming good friends with someone of the opposite gender. Going forward, it is wise to set boundaries around with whom you and your spouse interact. This is especially important within a work setting.  There is too much closeness that can develop in an office environment under the guise of it just being business.

While none of us can make others do something they do not want to do, we can still set expectations involving what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. For example, you could establish the following set of guidelines if you are rebuilding your marriage:

  • No personal or business lunches/dinners one-on-one with the opposite sex.
  • No friends of the opposite gender. To clarify: A married woman should not have a (non-family member) male confidant with whom she shares the same things that she would share with a female best friend. On the other hand, a married man should not have a female confident with whom he shares his personal life, personal thoughts, or what is going on in his marriage and family.
  • Neither spouse should tell others of the opposite gender every detail about their marriage or life.
  • No contacting ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends via Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Create opportunities to turn toward your spouse for emotional intimacy.

Rabbi and Marriage and Family Therapist M. Gary Neumann commented about the emotional aspects of affairs:

“We crave emotional connection. In my study, only 7% of cheating men said they were after the sex as compared to 48% who reported it was the desire for emotional connection that drove the impropriety. Most cheating occurs after he’s formed some close friendship with the woman with whom he will eventually cheat. When men feel emotionally disconnected at home, too many make the horrifying choice to find it somewhere else instead of working to reconnect with their wives. When a couple is not actively engaged in nurturing their marital love, they risk danger. Not that cheating is ever justified; it is an ugly choice, but the similar desire to be actively in love has driven us to marry and sadly, can drive many to look outside their marriage for that love as well. It is why men must be careful not to even allow close friendships to form with other women. We need to be developing closer connections in our home, not away from it. If you have found yourself enjoying another woman’s friendship, you need to consider things like: when have I laughed, had a great discussion, had a fun time, had a great meal out… with my wife like that? Typically, it’s been too long and it’s time to bring that energy home and work to renew your loving connection.” (5)

Neumann drives home the point that it is unwise to have friendships with the opposite sex.

If a cheater believes that it is fair game to continue these opposite-sex friendships, the innocent spouse should put his or her foot down. There is too much evidence that demonstrates that having opposite-gender relationships while married is bad news. This is doubly true if one would like to rebuild his or her marriage.

Even the very best of men and women can fall prey to a person of the opposite sex in the workplace. A relationship can start as purely business or even as a mentorship situation. But soon the two become friends and the trouble begins.

An example of this would be the case with David Petraeus, former Director of the CIA. About 10 days ago, Paula Broadwell, David Petraeus’s younger affair partner recently asked in an article in the New York Times, “I’m the first to admit I screwed up,” Ms. Broadwell said. “Really badly, I know that. But how long does a person pay for their mistake?” (6)

For a woman like Paula Broadwell to say such a thing in unwarranted. Paula ensured that a marriage was ruined and that classified information in the government was also compromised. Paula had a choice in the mistake she made, whereas David Petraeus’s wife did not. It’s a mistake whose memory an innocent wife will have to live with for the rest of her life. It’s a mistake in which the innocent wife had no say. An innocent wife must live with the fall out of the situation, so why shouldn’t Paula live with the consequences she created?

This is why setting the appropriate emotional boundaries is necessary. The old adage says, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I don’t quite agree with it in terms of affairs, but it does instruct us to action. The implication is that if we are fooled, it is up to us to do whatever we need to do to ensure it does not happen again. We must take concrete action.

 

Physical Boundaries

The physical aspect is pretty much self-explanatory. Tell your spouse, “Don’t touch another woman or man and keep your clothes on.”

It really is that simple if those two rules are followed, then physical affairs could be prevented. Yet, there are some people who have a very big problem. They keep being victimized by certain brands of pants and shirts that just seem to fly off their bodies anytime they are alone with members of the opposite sex who are not their spouses.  

But to compound the issue, while these same people are trying to find their runaway clothing, they just happen to fall into areas belonging to other women or men. (Gosh, I just hate when that happens too!) There should be warning signs posted for that kind of thing, kind of like the have signs marking land mines. Know what I mean?

But, in all seriousness, there must be physical boundaries. No more runaway clothing excuses and no more falling into unmarked areas belonging to members of the opposite sex.

I do believe that the problem starts well before the clothes come off. There are some men and women who are flirts and they are the touchy-feeling type. Really, there is no reason a person needs to be touchy-feely with another. He or she doesn’t need to constantly touch another man or woman’s arm, or lean in so that they are 6 inches from the other person’s face, or touch their back during casual conversation.

If you are married to someone who has these habits, it’s a wise idea to point them out and ask for them to stop doing it. If you are going to rebuild, all of the prior behaviors need to change.

 

Empowerment

Finally, all of this hinges on empowerment. Rachel Platten released Fight Song in 2014, but I believe that its words can serve as daily inspiration. Here is an important message:

 

fightsong

 

Many of us in this culture have been socialized to be fixers. When people around us make a mistake that emotionally or otherwise harms others, we need to be the big girl or boy who comes in and fixes things. Or we need to protect those who were harmed.

While our spouses are off with their affair partners, we are expected to keep the hearth and home fires burning and making a living so that our family avoids an utter implosion of epic proportions. Betrayed spouses generally make lots of sacrifices to be fixers, to lean in and help others, and to ensure life is running well all around them.

Some people simply cannot sleep until all is right with the world. These men and women are heroes. So, I will not deny that someone must do it while the other half of the couple has gone off the deep end and doesn’t see they are drowning. A person is right to ensure that his/her family is not pulled down with their spouse who has made the epic mistake.

But what about your needs as a man or woman? What about all those times you put the burning desires of your heart aside in order to maintain the status quo? It’s time to pull out all of those hobbies that you set aside. It’s time to travel and see the world, or do whatever it is that makes you feel good.

I think affairs are the ultimate reminder that women and men need to love themselves so much that their hearts are over-flowing with serenity and the deep knowing that they have always been okay and that they are LOVABLE and WORTHY.

Your inherent worth as a person and your lovability is something that you possess no matter what anyone says to you, does to you, or even does around you.

Your inherent worth cannot be affected by someone else’s mistakes. That is the basic truth at the bottom of it all. Your basic worth, your inherent lovability, your value as a human being cannot be affected by the affair.

These truths about you remain unchangeable, each day get to the task of living life through these truths. In the meantime, take all other measures necessary to reduce the chance of your spouse returning to old habits.

What have you done for yourself this week that has empowered you? 

 

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Typically at some point after their affair, the ex-unfaithful find themselves getting off track, feeling lost and not knowing what to do or what to say throughout the healing and recovery process.  It's normal.  

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Sources: 

Addended letter to Dr. Harley. From http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html

Justin. One Year After the Affair. From http://refineus.org/our-story/

Haverluck, Michael. Survey: Alarming rate of Christian men who look at porn, commit adultery. From http://www.onenewsnow.com/culture/2014/10/09/survey-alarming-rate-of-christian-men-look-at-porn-commit-adultery

Platten, Rachel. Fight Song. From http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rachelplatten/fightsong.html

Neumann, Gary. Can Good Guys Cheat? From http://mgaryneuman.com/garys-blog/

Bennett, Jessica. Paula Broadwell, David Petraeus and the Afterlife of a Scandal. From http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/fashion/david-petraeus-paula-broadwell-scandal-affair.html?_r=0

 

 

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41 Responses to Boundaries After the Affair – How to Use Physical, Geographical, and Emotional Boundaries to Move Forward

  1. TheFirstWife June 7, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    Well written article. Lots of great points.

    I did most of this. Boundaries ignored and disregarded. Requests for truth and transparency unmet. Attempts to talk and have an honest discussion were avoided.

    Bottom line is you can do all of these things. If they are going to cheat they are going to cheat. Unless you are with the CS 24/7 if they want to continue to cheat they will make it happen.

    I know. I lived it. In some cases there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Our marriage was not bad. We still socialized together, laughed often, had alone time with friends such as playing golf (for my H) etc.

    In fact his friends would always say your wife is so easy going I wish my wife was like that. I did bend over backwards b/c I loved him and he treated me well. Romantic dinners, cute little gifts, all of it was in our marriage.

    Why did he cheat? Mid life crisis. MLC. Those three letters upended our lives.

    So I would say these suggestions are good ones. Good luck getting the CS to abide by them.

    The affair ends (in my opinion) for 2 reasons. BS throws the CS out or threatens to leave or the AP dumps them. Very rarely does the CS end it on their own. And if they do, they keep it a secret for as long as they can. None the wiser.

  2. Kate June 7, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

    I totally agree with the comparison of the cheater to an addict. In my opinion there is zero difference between how a meth addict or alcoholic behaves and how somebody in an affair behaves. I think it would be so much more helpful for the betrayed to understand and deal with the affair if we promoted this idea more. Instead we focus as a society on the idea that they are “in love” & that any kind of romance is totally legitimate and the only REAL TRUE LOVE. As a society we allow anyone “in love” to use it as a get out of jail free card to excuse all the hurtful things these people do. “We didn’t mean to hurt anybody, we just fell in love.” It’s a surefire way to make sure the betrayed feels as hurt & damaged as humanly possible. I believe as a society we need to grow up & start treating infidelity the same way we treat drug addiction – and stop romanticizing it. I also completely agree with the analogy of the toddler on the playground running home to mommy. I think cheaters generally are very emotionally immature people. Just my 2 cents…

    • TheFirstWife June 7, 2016 at 3:42 pm #

      Yes to all of it.

      That is why this article had great points but mostly will not work unless the Cheater wants to stop. Same as addict. You can bring them to rehab but until they buy in to stopping the drug use, it won’t last or even stop the addiction/behavior.

      And they do act like 2 year old children during the affair.

      How sad. Adults acting like children. Or even worse.

      • Ann June 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm #

        Agree with you TFW.
        Another great article but won’t work if the CH doesn’t get rid of the addiction.
        My CH continues the last A off and on, so that addiction continues and he has an alcohol problem as well which adds fuel to the fire.
        Our first twelve years of marriage he hardly touched alcohol even though his father taught all of his siblings and my H how to drink at an early age. When my CH was fifteen his father got laid off from his job then drank away any money that was to go towards the mortgage on their house.
        My CH being the oldest sibling then had to find a part time job while still in school to help his mother with bills.
        It’s all just sad.

        • TheFirstWife June 11, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

          I feel for you. As your H lived the devastation of his childhood and his father’s drinking, you would think he would not want to continue that pattern.

          How sad for you and your family. What are you going to do now?

          • Ann June 11, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

            I feel more sad for my H. He was not his father when we met and married. I did not know his father was an alcoholic at the time.
            But life moves forward and his dreams did not come true so I guess you resort to what you were taught and know best.
            We could not have children so I am grateful now that we couldn’t have children.
            So for now I continue to live each day the best I can, and the day will come when I ask him to leave or he leaves on his own.
            Circumstances don’t allow me right now to ask him to leave, but slowly getting there.

    • Ann June 11, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

      Kate
      I am in total agreement with your 2 cents on comparing a cheater to an addict.
      No difference.

  3. Rachel June 8, 2016 at 6:23 am #

    During my ex’s affair I had to know what was going on. I questioned and questioned. I guess I was wrong. I was angry sooooo angry. I guess I was wrong with that too.
    My ex did say he didn’t want me. I egnored that 2 times, thinking it would change because I didn’t want to divorce. The third time when he said I don’t want you or this marriage he said it in front of our children and finally my 19 year old at the time said “mom what don’t you get, he doesn’t want you”!
    So I filed. I’m divorced . And now I hear, ” your the one who filed”!
    He’s filled my kids with poor me. Your mother filed, your mother gets all my money, your money got my investments that were to be used for college. The ex has emailed me that the investments were to be used for college, you’ll have to use that money. Haha not so fast buddy,
    You don’t tell me what to do any more and that money will be used for my retirement!
    You live with your mother and only have alimony as a weekly bill . And you make 6 figures!
    My only regret is the family is broken up. And when I get sad I remember what I lived with for 25 years. I remember my sad days crying in the shower wondering how I will do this living with this controlling nut. I just found an old calendar of a list of IOU’s to the ex. I would charge items and had to pay them back. Blinds for our house , I had to pay for. I had a small part time job and stayed home and raised our children . I paid him back monthly. Who does that? And when he spoke of his retirement, it was his money. He kept telling me I better do something for mine. Another red flag. I had hoped he would change and remember that I am his wife. We are a couple and a team. He never saw it that way. It was all about him. Selfish.
    Sorry to go on and on. I need to write a book. I have so much to say.

    • TheFirstWife June 8, 2016 at 11:56 am #

      Wow you have been dragged through the mud with the exH.

      Typical cheater behavior – never take responsibility, blame everyone else for your mistakes, drag others into it (kids), forget all the hurtful things you said and did during the affair, financially devastate the family and most importantly act like a spoiled brat and whine when things don’t go your way. Sooo typical.

      I hope your children see through his charade. He needs to get some character and therapy.

      If I was his mother BTW he would NOT be living with me. You make your bed you lie in it.

      Hope you are happier now. Too bad you still have to have contact. That is a permanent life sentence.

    • Untold June 8, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

      Rachel, you go on all you want. I understand and empathize – I’m almost there also. I’m still with my wife 2 years post DDay but it’s not improving how I had hoped.

      We’re I’m “the fixer” Sarah describes in the article. I pay all the bills (literally and figuratively), provide 95% of the income, and am constantly fixing or upgrading things. My wife can’t even pick up her own clothes for example. They pile up in every room until every 2 weeks, she picks them up, before the housekeeper comes! I’ve been asking for 28 years for her to pick up some after herself. I get contempt, hostile response or passive-aggressive “OK” then nothing.

      We can’t help but to feel taken for granted, unappreciated. Yet they’re the one that has the “need” to cheat? It seems they have no clue what it takes to make it happen, and they don’t even care to learn. They just feel entitled to it and you should do whatever to get it for them.

      The frustrating part for me is, all the work I’ve done in my career to provide and save for my family, and to improve our home and yard and land, will have to be shared with a deceitful, contemptuous person. I’m on the other side of your situation, but she was the betrayer. For the first 20 years she was an equal part of the home and child rearing. For the last 5+ years, not so much. She’s happy to sit, stay on fakebook and complain how hard she has it. If we divorce it will suck away resources and savings that our grown sons should enjoy someday.

      Wish you well Rachel in your journey.

      • TheFirstWife June 8, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

        Hi Untold. I understand your frustration. I asked my H (who was the cheating spouse) for 30 years to please tell me where you are going and what time you will be home. Sometimes he would tell me be home by midnight to walk in the doorway 3 am with no explanation! I yelled, begged, pleaded, cursed, explained and after 9/11 occurred (he works in NYC) I just wanted to know he was ok and not lying in an alley somewhere.

        I got a blank stare and no change.

        I was very flexible with allowing him time to socialize after work. He traveled extensively and internationally while I was home w/ our young children. I never complained as I deemed travel as part of his job. Every Saturday morning he plays ball for 2 hours. Sunday was church. Not one day did I get to sleep late but I deemed it as part of our lives then.

        I do household repairs, painting, gardening, cooking & cleaning myself (no outside help). Very self sufficient person.

        So I do know what you are going through. I had a hard time getting my teens to pick up their clothes but now they do it every day. They know the drill. it is not an option.

        Your wife sounds depressed to me. FBook is an escape. She may feel worthless now that your children are grown or out of the house. Many women go through it. I am not excusing her cheating or behavior but it may be she has some serious issues that should have been addressed by her. Instead she chose to cheat.

        My H chose to address his issues and mid life crisis by cheating. So typical and so cliche. What I find funny now is his willingness to be accountable. He tells me where he is going and what time he will be home, when train or cab will arrive, etc.

        It took an almost divorce for him to get it. And I was the one with one foot out the door. Between the cheating, lying, no accountability and his treatment of me during his affair, I was throwing in the towel on this marriage.

        He woke up at the last possible second. But he did not go for counseling at all. I had a therapist for 2 years that saved my sanity.

        If her clothes on the floor bother you, you have options. Throw them out is one option. Donate them is another. Pick them up yourself and don’t give them to her. When she starts to run out of clothes she may get the hint. I did it to my sons when they would not cooperate. I finally got tough after years of them taking clean clothes and throwing them on the floor – now they do their own laundry. Since they were 9 or 10.

        To make your life calmer you need some creative solutions. Get a plan yogether for you. Make your life worth living. Not saying divorce her but you should enjoy your time – with or without her. Put yourself first.

        Also did your W go to counseling? Did it help?

        I hope you can find some solutions to your situation that can make your life better.

      • Alana January 14, 2018 at 8:11 pm #

        Well it really bothers me to hear you say that you have 20 good years with your wife and 5 bad ones and you feel she deserves nothing. It should now go to your children. For me that is a big red flag. After 25 years you really think she doesn’t deserve her fair share? That type of comment is very offensive to myself and anyone who has devoted themselves to raising a family and given up many years in the workforce for the unpaid, underappreciated, job of MOTHER AND WIFE. Yes I believe my husband doesn’t want to share “his” with me either.

      • Alana January 15, 2018 at 2:52 pm #

        Well it really bothers me to hear you say that you have 20 good years with your wife and 5 bad ones and you feel she deserves nothing. It should now go to your children. For me that is a big red flag. After 25 years you really think she doesn’t deserve her fair share? That type of comment is very offensive to myself and anyone who has devoted themselves to raising a family and given up many years in the workforce for the unpaid, underappreciated, job of MOTHER. I think there is more to your story than you tell.

        • Untold January 15, 2018 at 11:54 pm #

          Alana, you’re being redundant! Did I say she deserves nothing? I don’t think I did. I said the divorce process, all the legal fees and the divided resources will take a substantial amount away from our sons ultimate inheritance, or what we would spend on the family if still together. Average cost of divorce is around $20k I believe. Then add divided living expenses, etc., on through the rest of our live unless/until she gets remarried.

          What do you think is her fair share? She cheated, broke her vows, the marriage covenant, and lied about it for years. This happened as I was helping take care of my elderly parents, during failing health up to their passing. She diverted resources out of the family to the affair. I didn’t. I worked very hard to earn our good living and was a loyal husband and good father.

          Is 50/50 fair? IMO, it’s not if one broke the contract. There should be some penalty. That’ll never work for divorce but it’s fair in most all other contractual agreements. If my state had them I would ask for a post nup.

          Yes there is much more to my story. You can go back through these blogposts and find comments from me going back 5 years when suspicion started. I go to counseling by myself now. She quit counseling after a few months.

          Anything specific you would like to know?

          • Sarah P. January 16, 2018 at 12:27 am #

            Hi Untold,

            I believe that people who have affairs should get less from the divorce. That’s not the politically correct thing to say, but it is what I believe. The older I get, the more I am against “no fault” divorce. It makes things too easy for cheaters and/or deadbeats. In all other areas of life, there are consequences, so why not consequences when people break a marriage vow?

            In essence, a marriage is a type of contract and if one party does not fulfill said contract the other should be able to sue for damages. This could come in the form of the cheater walking away with very little.

            It burns me up when one spouse is the ever-faithful partner doing the right thing while the other spouse is off blatantly stomping on the marriage vows and everything that a couple has built together.

            So, I am with you. I do not think you should have to give 50% in a divorce, especially when it cuts into a child’s inheritance. Cutting into a child’s inheritance or anyone’s financial future is NOT COOL and not fair.

            Sarah

    • Su An July 4, 2017 at 12:11 am #

      My very intelligent husband was sexually abused by his mother as a child. Overprotected me could not sniff out directly nor be aware and confront about the affairs. I became independent went back to school, had groups of friends. He suffered much avoiding suicide until we got her in a nursing home. Now we go to AA together and recovery groups and therapist, church choir, social events.I am at times overwhelmed but continue to research this sad condition which imprisoned his mind.

      • Sarah P. January 16, 2018 at 12:36 am #

        Hi Su An,

        You should email me privately. Unfortunately, I know all about men being sexually abused by older female figures in their lives such as moms or step-moms. It’s really the most disgusting phenomenon I have ever come across since women have historically been the ones to nurture and protect children. It does a tremendous mind job on male survivors and it is so very sad.

        Sarah

  4. Sarah P June 8, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

    Hello All,
    Just chiming in to say TFW has great advice for everyone.

    Untold, I wanted to say that I do agree with TFW as well in terms of wondering if your wife has some kind of depression. Sounds like you were the one holding things together all those years, but it sounds like she has had some kind of depression for a while and maybe it was masked when the kids were around. For whatever reason, I get the sense that your wife’s affair is more about being self-destructive. That would definitely point toward some kind of condition that requires therapy or possibly medication (or both.) May I ask about your wife’s childhood? Was there emotional or physical abuse that you know of?

    Blessings to everyone…!

    • Ann June 13, 2016 at 6:46 pm #

      Hi Sarah
      I see in my e mail that you have posted a comment to me but it does not show up in the blog and that is why I haven’t responded to your post. So I will respond from a different post from you.
      My H being too personable oh yeah bothers me, but it doesn’t seem to matter what I say to him.
      I believe he is very insecure from not such a great up bringing.
      His father taught him three things in life. Drink, leave your spouse when you get mad and come back when you feel like it, and spend money. we could add a fourth one too, be selfish.
      I haven’t seen a text for three weeks, but believe he is still in contact with her, when HE wants to be. It’s easy enough to delete a text when you don’t want your wife to see it.
      I do kind of have a Mister in my life, his friend who we spend time with. He comments on my dinners, and always hears my perspective on things but again I don’t think it bothers my H as I don’t think my H sees his friend as a threat and he really is not.
      I could find another “Mister” but it is harder for me as I work from home in our business.
      As for me getting back in shape, it is for me and not one bit for him. I know I am not the cause of his affairs and problems.
      Thanks Sarah

  5. Untold June 10, 2016 at 6:16 am #

    Thanks for comments TFW and Sarah. A summary answer to your questions is “been there done that”. Seems like a lose-lose on the clothes option. If I pick them up and bag them or throw them away, she’ll just go buy more. More work for me and more of our money gets wasted. Her mantra is “That’s just how I am… you’re just nagging… everybody has a messy house…”. I’ve really given up on it years ago and just used it as an example of entitlement.

    Disorder is a likely situation and depression was/is an issue. Menopause has contributed. Major mood swings, tantrums, despicable, disrespectful hostility and contempt. Has been on SSRI since during the affair period. Two periods of marriage counseling for about 9 months each. The first was a sham, before major discoveries and she was still in the EA/PA totally lying to me and our counselor. The second was after the last DDAY but not helpful. Contempt continued. The counselor did not address betrayal but moved into comm skils and what was wrong with the relationship. Finally after 3 months I said we need to address affair. I want honest answers to my questions and I want to tell her how it caused me pain.

    We did that but she continued to lie about some issues which I knew about. He said I was trying to trap her, should stop pursuing the truth, let it go and forgive. Trustbuilding was ignored. My wife said and counselor endorsed I need to just start trusting her. This while she was still being dishonest about things past and present, simple things like where were you and who were you with. Answer – shopping at target; truth having lunch and drinks with friends. Harmless, but still in deceit mode.

    I’m near wits end. FOO issues likely. Don’t know of any abuse, but dad was largely absent. Refuses any more counseling. No MC, no IC, refuses to read anything about rebuilding, reconnecting. Won’t listen to anything, no retreats, nothing. “I’m fine, I’m happy with myself, it’s your problem” is what I get. Never asks me how I feel, what I need, how we can improve. I have largely protected the secret from sons and family, but they have seen the contempt, hostility, disrespect and often comment about constant cellphone use.

    I have been working on self, disconnecting. I’m seeing IC every couple weeks with goal of how I can conclude whether to rebuild or exit. Continue a demanding career, supporting elderly mother and our two grown sons, etc.. Really feeling like nothing will wake her up and make her see she has to change behavior. I believe much is the same as it was a few years ago during the EA/PA, only she’s not screwing someone right now.

    • Sarah P June 12, 2016 at 1:49 am #

      Hello Untold,

      I am so sorry to hear about your wife. Absentee or uninvolved father says it all. Those are big family of origin issues. The damage from such situations is pervasive. Girls/women can develop depression, borderline personality disorder, and can be promiscuous in an attempt to receive male validation. The unfortunate path that these women sometimes take is self-destructive and self-sabotaging. The only person who can validate them is their father and he is not there to get the job done and is probably not emotionally capable of doing the job. But these same women can heal successfully through therapy. Unfortunately your wife believes there is nothing wrong with her and this is why I would say she is possibly struggling with (BPD) borderline personality disorder. I say this because she has no insight, tells compulsive lies, and also appears to display volatile behaviors. That is an indication that BPD is present.

      As for the therapist, I disagree with his focus on communication skills. Communication skills mean nothing if there is a bigger and unaddressed problem. It’s the the elephant in the room. Instead of addressing the elephant and dealing with it, you are being told how to communicate better while avoiding the elephant. So you get really good at communicating around the elephant but never discuss that the elephant is the root cause of it all. If she is continuing to lie and the therapist says to trust, that is really, really BAD advice. It is kind of a smoke and mirrors approach. For example: Picture that someone is actively hurting you by slapping your hand, but someone else (a therapist) is saying, “oh hey, look over here and trust that person isn’t hurting you… You just need to trust they won’t hurt you!!” All the while the first person keeps slapping your hand and will never stop. So for you to be told to trust someone who is lying is just insane. As Gary Coleman on Different Strokes would say, “what ya talking about Willis?”

      While I do not know the whole story, these are my thoughts based on what you have said. So, to sum up, your wife has borderline tendencies and I would guess that a qualified therapist could possibly diagnose her with borderline personality disorder. But a good therapist who is skilled in dealing with personality disorders needs to do it (in person.) Second, the marriage counselor was completely unhelpful in his approach and was focusing on the wrong thing entirely. I am pretty shocked he was focusing on the wrong thing and ignoring the very huge and very obvious issue: the affair. It does not sound like you were trapping your wife. That’s a ridiculous thing for the therapist to say.

      I think it’s a great idea to work on yourself and to think of disconnecting. It’s great to see an individual counselor. I hope you are seeing a therapist who is your advocate and who wants the best for you. I also hope that you are prepared for the wild ride if you choose to exit. There could be self-harm such as cutting, too many pills, or suicide threats on your wife’s part. Be prepared to stop get pulled into the drama.

      Tell me how your mom fits into all of this. Does she live with you or do you financially support your mom? (I am in favor of financial support for almost all older parents who are in financial need. My only caveat would be older parents who are addicts. I would personally never give out money to feed an alcohol or drug addiction, but I doubt this is your case.)

      Here’s a final question. Imagine yourself sitting in a room surrounded by the following people: your sons, your wife, your mom and your dad. Where would those people be placed around you in the room? Name who would be beside you, in front of you, behind you, or if someone would leave the room. Be as specific as possible. I know this sounds like a silly thing, but it’s based on an ancient Hawaiian grounding exercise.

      Hope all is well,

      Sarah

      • Untold June 13, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

        Thank you for the very thoughtful reply Sarah. Yes, my wife’s father passed away more than 20 years ago. Her mother is very close – calls nearly daily and texts often. It’s nice she has such a friendship with her mom, but almost seems like too much after 29 years of marriage.

        I was disappointed in that Christian counselor. Wife said I pushed him to do what I wanted, instead of following his program. She claims that’s why it failed and is convinced we’re not healing because I “won’t get over it”. I remind her I’m over “it”, but I have to decide if I can live with this and need to see hope and evidence of change in problem behaviors.

        I hope my IC is an advocate. Still early, but she seems knowledgeable, is certified IMFT and at least is someone I can discuss issues with. I have no one else safe and healthy to talk with. Can’t dialogue with my wife about our relationship on any frequency without ending up in conflict, and she objects to even a monthly “how are we doing”.

        My mom is 88 with advanced dementia living in a nursing home. My major support for her is time. I am POA, take care of her finances and affairs, and working to sell the family home. Siblings are helpful but live much further away. Of note is that during her EA/PA my parents health declined quickly, from independent living to both in nursing care. It was a lot of extra burden when I could have used emotional support from my wife, but she was engaged elsewhere. My dad passed away one week after the major DDay. I’m not complaining though. They’ve had great lives. I’ve heard others’ stories here that are much more devastating.

        That last question about placing them in a room is a tough one. Depends on if I answer where I would want them, or where I think they would be on their own. It also depends on what I interpret the positions to mean. Off the cuff I think my parents would be behind me, my sons beside me and my wife in front of me telling me where she wants to go. If it got tough my wife would slip to the back. Once the path was more clear she’d jump back in front and say she knew that was the way to go all along!

        • TheFirstWife June 13, 2016 at 10:30 pm #

          It is interesting that when the CS is confronted with an issue as a result of the affair, they revert to you need to get over it.

          Deflect, deflect, deflect!!!!!

          So typical. Instead of saying “so sorry I did this” or “please forgive me” the BS gets the slap in the face.

          I watched a not so good movie last night called the Intern with Robert DeNiro. there is a CH in the movie and in the end he admits to his wife he has been cheating and begs for forgiveness. I sat there and thought if only my H had done that and meant it the first time he cheated. He did admit it to me and I was very grateful. I felt he admitted it when it was an EAs (had not become a PA yet).

          But then the affair fog came and he really have me a rough time. Told me he didn’t want to be married anymore. I just watched him become someone I hardly knew.

          Anyway he became the typical cheater. A liar, lowlife mid life crisis victim who solved his unhappiness by cheating.

          So your suffering the typical behavior. Expected. Because if most cheaters ever admitted even half of it (even the evidence the BS has in black and white) it would be so much easier. But no the CS cannot actually believe the BS woukd find it in their heart to actually forgive the transgressions.

          It sounds to me like you need to move on to healing yourself. Your wife has no plans to give you anything you need.

          I have gotten to a place where I just move on when people treat you poorly or lie or disrespect you. Their issue – not mine.

          I feel so much better about things now. I realize it is not me but them. For whatever reason they are the list or cheater or loser.

          My son has been involved in a very abusive relationship these past few years (he is in high school). This girl is the worst I have ever seen – lies, cheats, drinks like a fish and smiles a ton of weed. My son is completely opposite and tries to be kind to her and help her.

          I keep telling him some people cannot be helped. As much as you want to help, they are beyond kindness and compassion. But he continues to stick by her even though ALL his friends tell him to dump her.

          Hard to watch and even harder to live. But I was in an emotionally abusive when I was 18 (lasted a few years) so I have learned the signs of an insecure, toxic, manipulative person.

          Your wife won’t face the fact that she has any culpability for your current state of affairs.

          My hope is that you can see through the clouds and stop trying to fix your marriage. She isn’t intetested based on her behavior. Stop trying to engage her. She isn’t intetested.

          Once you disengage from the hamster wheel you are on, you may start to see things more clearly and things may get better for you.

          Once you can accept the teslity of what your wife is now and you can move past that, your life will get better. Trust me. You can get there.

          • Sarah P. June 14, 2016 at 1:47 am #

            Hello TFW,
            I am just horrified to hear about your son being in an abusive relationship. If I were you, I would personally be scared to death for him. Hopefully his friends can get through to him because he does not want to sign up for a life of misery. These people cannot be fixed and he must move on. She is looking for an enabler and he needs to stop being one.

            I am also sorry to hear that you were in an emotionally abusive relationship. Emotional abuse is a serious issue and not something to be taken lightly, yet it seems so pervasive. It also seems like the nicest of people who are fixers get pulled in. Some people can be saved by others supporting them and offering guidance, while others are beyond being saved. Personally, it took me a long time to learn the difference and knowing the difference and knowing when to walk away is probably the best thing anyone can do for themselves.

            So, TFW, how are you feeling these days about your marriage?

            Hope all is well!
            Sarah

            • TheFirstWife June 14, 2016 at 6:55 am #

              Hi Sarah

              My son was very dependent on this girl for his social life and it was painful to watch. In his mind he would rather be with her than not with her and lose his friends. That was his choice. I never said don’t hang with her b/c that would only make him want to be with her even more.

              Now he has his own social life so he is not as tied to her. Cannot wait for the end of school so he can get further away. They are going to the prom together and I fear he will have a miserable time. But I offer suggestions like if she is being cranky – hang with your friends. If she doesn’t want to dance with you then dance with other friends.

              I have his back so he has someone to talk to about this. But she keeps treating him like a yoyo – I love you then I hate you, I love you, I hate you.

              I am hoping he learns a good life lesson from this and recognizes nsrcissistic behavior in the future. Hopefully the next psycho-drama crazy girl he meets will send warning bells in his brain to run! And fast!!!

              Having been through a relationship with an alcoholic verbally abusive insecure guy (luckily while I was still living at home with my parents) gives me some insight I can pass along to my son.

              He is going far away to college and she is going south. I am hoping that will be the end of this friendship/relationship.

              My son is having a small grad party to which she is not welcome. I finally put my foot down and said no. She is upset she is not invited to something. Last time this happened where she was not invited she just showed up and parked her car in front of my house and hijacked his party. I know I will not tolerate it happening this time.

              This has been 7 years of abuse and bullsh$;•f from her. Enough. In a few weeks I am going to permanently block her number so she cannot text my son in the future or call him. I know they use other apps but at least I am starting to block some avenues of communication. This girl is soooo toxic.

              She is an OW in the making, sad to say. I see all the signs.

            • TheFirstWife June 14, 2016 at 7:18 am #

              In answer to your second question I have emerged from this whole cheating ordeal a stronger more grounded person. Like you I choose not to drink. People are horrified at that thought. What?!! Someone who doesn’t drink?? I just ignore it. Not sure why anyone cares. I don’t judge people who drink. Why would you judge someone who doesn’t? Makes no sense.

              In any event I have come from this ordeal with more confidence about myself.

              I know in a crisis I will protect my children and do the right thing.

              I know from this crisis I will remain level headed and make good decisions.

              I will never be the crying heap on the floor ever again because of my H.

              I have moved to a point where I put my life and needs first sometimes. I am not selfish but I have learned to say “no” at times.

              I have learned to trust my gut instinct. And my dreams. On June 8 I woke up from a dream that seemed strange. But it all came true down to exact dates and wording. This has happened to me before and I trust my dreams completely. They are usually spot on.

              I love my H but I am the stronger person in this relationship. I don’t lie, I am not financially irresponsible, I have savings and he does not, except for retirement.

              I faced all our issues head on. He chose to bury his head and refuse counseling I went to initially work on us, then I decided to work on me. I addressed a few things I could do better AND learned a lot. I feel I am a better person, wife and parent from it.

              My H tries very hard to make up for the past – both his EA from 20 years ago that lasted 4 years (which I called him on and he denied) and his more recent EA/PA that lasted 1 year and almost caused our divorce.

              However there will always be scars and the realization that this person – your spouse – can be so misguided that they will lie, cheat, and cause permanent damage to someone they love.

              It is hard to have your life up-ended. I had PTSD for 2 years until I realized I am good with him or without him. I have a full life that I would not trade for anything.

              Oh and the great result of this is that I started my own business and love it. I am getting good word of mouth and things are finally starting to happen. My friends are always willing to test recipes for me and I have a nice following.

              So I have weathered the storm and I know who I can count on. This ordeal opened my eyes and I thank you Sarah for your kind words.

              I am glad to have found this site. It has helped me tremendously. I try to give good advice here b/c so many helped me 3 years ago when I was a mess and could barely make it through the day!!!

              • Strengthrequired June 14, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

                That’s really nice….

                Btw, I’m not a drinker either. I had a call the other day, I was told I won some wine, after I had entered a competition or something, saying I enjoyed drinking wine.
                I said to the lady, I don’t recall entering in a competition, and if I did, I wouldn’t have said that I enjoy drinking wine, or anything else, because I’m not a drinker.
                She responded with ohhhh.

                Then I said Thankyou, but no Thankyou, and hung up.

        • Sarah P. June 14, 2016 at 1:27 am #

          Hello Untold,

          First off, I am so very sorry that you have been going through this alone. I have some quick thoughts:

          1) It sounds like your wife has a bit of a codependent relationship with her mom. It sounds like her mom relied on your wife for emotional support after your wife’s father died. It can sometimes feel like a third person is in the relationship. But, I am all for being close to mom’s, but it needs to be balanced and the other spouse needs to know that the person who is close to their parent is ‘all in’ to the marriage.

          2) You didn’t fail the Christian counselor’s program. She doesn’t want to be culpable and is blaming you.

          3) Your wife doesn’t want to talk about things because she doesn’t want to understand that she caused a lot of harm.

          4) I hope your IC is a good support to you through this and you always have all of us here on the website! There is a lot of healing when you write out your emotions and story and I know everyone is here supporting you and also supporting everyone else who visits the site and who has been through an affair. We may be a bunch of strangers, but we are all joined by the common thread that we have experience with the pain of infidelity. Everyone who chimes in is a real person going through the same thing and everyone has great advice since they have all been there and done that. (A lot of the times I think the advice from commenters such as The First Wife is just as good as a therapist can give.)

          I am also sorry to hear about your mom and her dementia. That must be devastating for you and it must have been more devastating to go through it alone. Taking care of your mom is absolutely the right thing to do. Please offer your mom fish oil pills high in DHA omega-3 if her doctor allows it. These vitamins have also been shown to assist with dementia:

          -Vitamin B1. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, taking 50 mg of vitamin B1 daily can help treat dementia. …
          -Vitamin E. …
          -Phosphatidylserine. …
          -Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid. …
          -Zinc

          Of course, all of it would have to be reviewed by a physician.

          Finally, I will let you know about the grounding exercise. Everything is where it should be except for your wife. Parents should always be behind us and siblings or kids beside us. Your wife should also be beside you along with your sons. But, she is serving as an emotional roadblock.

          Where you want to go now is up top you. My feeling is that your wife in neither mature enough nor accountable enough to be in an equal relationship where there is give and take. I believe everyone needs to have someone that spoils them, has their back, and loves being with them. But if you do decide to go forward without her, be sure to choose one like this and not fall back into attracting someone like your wife. Sometimes all of us fall easily into the old patterns.

          Keep us posted!
          Sarah

  6. Hopeful June 10, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

    I agree too that this is so much like an addiction. For my husband he told himself whatever he needed to. And he just pulled away from me and the kids. I struggle with the fact when someone is an alcoholic they need to change where and who they hang or with. And change their entire lifestyle. We and especially my husband has changed his lifestyle a lot. But he still has the same friends. He does not see them as much and we have better boundaries but I have read a lot that who you surround yourself with does impact your decisions and behavior. I am not sure how to get past this. He is being responsive with checking in with me when needed and not staying it late, telling me where he is going etc. yet I know his friends lie about things some big some small. I know my husband is more aware than ever but this is a big issue for me.

    • TheFirstWife June 10, 2016 at 1:31 pm #

      My H rarely goes to bars after work anymore. If he has a dinner he leaves when dinner is finished.

      He met OW in a bar. He is not an alcoholic. But bars are now off limits. He also has a better understanding of what I will accept and tolerate and knows not to push that envelope.

    • Sarah P June 12, 2016 at 1:56 am #

      Hi Hopeful,
      I understand why this is a big issue and I have also read that the people with whom we surround ourselves can have a large impact on our lives. I don’t know how much of a change you are willing to enforce, but I would put a kabosh on your husband going out with friends at night or to bars. If his buddies lie for him that is concerning. As a betrayed spouse you have every right to set really strong boundaries and to demand more lifestyle changes. But it’s all up to what you are comfortable with.

      Many blessings to you,
      Sarah

      • Hopeful June 12, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

        My husband’s friends do not lie for him but they lie to their spouses and significant others. What is strange is all through the affair years my husband always shared what his friends did. And I know I was wrong now but it gave me a false sense of security. I would say to myself why is he telling me about his friends doing things with other women if he did not think it was wrong. Granted he always thought what he did was wrong too. It is hard though if I say never go out to eat or have a drink with your friends after golf or to watch a game then he will have zero friends. He could still golf and come straight home but that is about it. My concern with that is it gives me a false sense of security. If he wants to engage in this behavior then he will find a way. It could happen anywhere, work, golf course, restaurant and online is limitless. But I am going back and forth in my mind what is safe yet reasonable. He has changed his behavior dramatically. If he does go out he is in contact with me about where he is and who he is with. And he goes out he sets a time he will be home. No more late nights and a lot less drinking. i find the challenge is our society is so focused on eating and drinking and if you do not fit in then you are no fun. It is hard to find any couples that are willing to get together as couples but even when we do they are so focused on drinking it gets old. So right now besides golf we are really focused on each other.

        • Sarah P. June 14, 2016 at 1:54 am #

          Hello Hopeful,
          Sounds like things are going really well for you. I do know what you mean about drinking. My husband and I do not drink as a lifestyle choice. We often get asked if we are in recovery since no one can imagine that someone can choose not to drink without being in AA and without being Mormon. So I do understand your frustration, but don’t give up. I am glad to hear that your husband has radically changed his behavior and it sounds like things are going well. Congrats!
          Sarah

  7. Ann June 10, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

    When my CH came home almost two years ago after he told me it was over between the two of them I set boundaries telling him he could have no contact with the OW. He had to block her number and e mail, he had to be totally transparent etc.
    My CH nodded his head in agreement but has not kept those boundaries in place.
    I believe he is one of those men who needs constant attention from two or three other women at the same time, because I believe he has low self esteem and is constantly needing women telling him how great he is. His father never gave him the attention that I so believe he needed.
    I see him now as a very needy man who needs constant drama in his life.
    All he wants from life is to play the stupid game of golf seven days a week (if he could) but his job gets in the way. He already plays golf every week-end rain or shine, cold or hot.
    So there really is no time for him to work on our marriage between golf and the texting the mistress.
    I agree with you Sarah when you say we should not have friends of the opposite sex.
    My CH has many friends in our line of business as he calls everyone he comes across a friend, even if he has met someone for the first time,
    I can now hear how he talks to women since his affairs where as before the affairs I never noticed how personable he gets when talking to them. In my opinion a little too personable and these are women he will work for in our line of business and I have said to him be careful on how you talk to women as something you say could come back later and bite you in the ass.
    For the next three months I have committed myself to get back into shape and take time for me, while my CH will most likely continue to play the ” it’s not my fault that I had affairs” game.

    • TheFirstWife June 11, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

      So sorry for this Ann. It must be hard to face on a daily basis.

      I could say the same thing in a way about my H. He is very handsome but was shy around women when he was younger. We met in college and it seemed so great – we dated 5 years and then married.

      I never saw him act inappropriately with women. But a 4-5 year EA and then his last A has left me with the question of what did I marry? How does he really act when I am not around. All flirty flirty etc.or does he now have boundaries in place?

      Hard to know what really goes on when I am not around him. I sometimes wonder.

      • Ann June 11, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

        Hi TFW
        Some days are hard but then other days not so hard because I slowly step back from him emotionally and that may not be good for our marriage, but when I am the only one working on it, it doesn’t seem worth it anymore.
        I continue to work on Plan B as I cannot and will not continue to be with a man who NEEDS to have another woman on the side.
        I know life will change when my father passes away, (he lives with me) and I will lose my house due to my CH financial decisions.
        BUT I WILL SURVIVE ALL OF THIS, because I am the strong one in this relationship.

    • Sarah P June 12, 2016 at 2:14 am #

      Hi Ann,
      I believe a lot of men, if they could get away with it, would have 3 or more women on hand for them. Many men need constant validation from the opposite sex. And there are many women as well who need constant validation from men. But I think the difference between men and women is that women are mostly happy with knowing they are pretty and then they move on. With men, I think they would always be happy if the validition ended in the bedroom.

      As for your husband being personable, that would bother me. I know my husband is extremely personable to both men and women. He is so afraid of disappointing others and wants to make sure everyone thinks well if him. It’s based in deep insecurity and it bothers me. I think guys like this are more easily swayed by the crowd or those around them. And it’s not a good thing unless they spend their entire day with saints.

      Is your H still communicating with his mistress? If so, it’s time to get a Mister and see how your husband feels. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when the tables are turned. (By the way, what I mean by Mister is external male validation.) It’s also great to keep in shape but do it for YOU. Always remember that you did not cause the affair, create the affair, and you cannot cure the affair. You must take care of you and that includes leaving if he needs to have a wake up call. Ultimately he has cheated because he is broken, not you. The three C’s go for everyone here, male or female. None of you caused, created or can cure the affair. Take that load off your back.

      Blessings,
      Sarah

  8. Betsy August 3, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

    My husband of 15 years owns his company and she directly works for him.I work for him too albeit from a home office so I don’t frequently see them together. Over the last year, I’ve noticed a way she has of talking to me when I do see her that made me uncomfortable. She seemed to go out of her way to let me know she knew things about our marriage, my life, etc. I complimented her on something in her office and she informed me it was a gift from my husband. My gut-level hunch was that something emotional between them was going on although I couldn’t and can’t fathom something physical happening. After looking through his text messages, which I acknowledge was an egregious violation of his privacy, I found months of messages where he complained about everything from the traffic we were stuck in to my mother taking too long to die in hospice and his dissatisfaction with having to be there all weekend (sorry for the inconvenience). He texted her while we were on vacation. He texted her while we were at brunch. He texted her when we were with his family for an outing. It wasn’t enough to experience those things with me. He needed to share them with her. He texts her while I’m driving and he’s in the passenger seat, while we are lying next to each other in bed at night.

    I hear a lot about “we grew apart and didn’t spend enough time focused on each other/doing things together” etc. I was right there. Many of the times, I was within a few feet of him. He still chose to turn to her. I was talking to him and he’d turn away to choose her.

    It’s a small office. They travel together on a regular basis. They have the opportunity to be alone together often. Right now, he says he’ll cut off all contact except professional contact and he wants to work through this in marriage counseling. I worry we don’t have a chance in hell if she is still part of the landscape while we repair and after we repair (IF we can repair). I know her job is safe and he would never get rid of her. So, I am thinking it has become my job to get rid of me. I’ve never had a hard time deciding what to do before. This is messy and painful obviously. I have to be honest with myself. I don’t think I have the capacity to just live with her constant presence.

    • TheFirstWife August 4, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

      Hi Betsy : sorry you are in this position.

      I experienced the same thing. My H’s OW EA worked for him. They would meet up for meetings outside the office.

      He would sit in his car on his cell phone and talk to her in our driveway (at the time I had no idea it was an EA). My H texted her on our 25th wedding anniversary. He texted her in his 50th birthday as we were getting a couples massage I had booked for his birthday.

      So I understand your position. You are competing with the OW. My H used to have this attitude “if there is no sex there is nothing wrong”.

      Now he looks back and realizes how wrong he was. But at the time during the EA (round 1) he gave her up but went running back 6 weeks later. He then asked for a divorce. Twice.

      Then I found out he was leaving me for the OW.

      My point is your H will not be a H if she is still around. My H had a 4 year EA 20 years ago and I knew it was going on. He REFUSED to end the friendship b/c “nothing was going on”. They were just friends. When she crossed the line and I became furious for the millionth time is when it ended.

      Soooo long story short you need a game plan. You should confront him in a calm rational way. You need to explain your position.

      If you want her fired then you need to be strong and tell him that. You need to warn him she could sue him &/or company if she is vindictive. He needs to cut all contact.

      Now he may lie and tell you it is all in your head blah blah blah. She is like an addiction. Google affair fog – it will give you insight on what you are about to face.

      My H was horribly mean for the 6 weeks they were apart. I was standing in his way of what he wanted -her.

      So just have a plan in mind, have your face to face with him planned. Stay calm and don’t react. Stand your ground at all times.

      Be prepared for lies. Call him on it. Ask him to see his phone with all the text messages. If he won’t comply right then and there immediately then he will be cornered.

      It is like taking candy from a 2 yo who is going to have a huge tantrum. You need to be prepared.

      During round 1 I was completely unprepared.

      During round 2 when the you know what hit the fan, I was in complete control of the situation. Financially I was in the driver’s seat and had we divorced he would have been screwed.

      My H made many mistakes from DDay2 but at least I could see he was trying.

      Best of luck.

  9. Scott November 14, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    I have just ended an EA. I wasn’t looking for it and I have never said anything negative about my wife to anyone — but apparently I hadn’t given my marriage the effort it deserved (or my wife the effort she deserved).

    The OW and I were going to meet for coffee this morning for closure — we knew it could not continue. But yesterday she sent a Facebook message saying she could not even see me again. I responded with “I understand” and we have not made contact in 36 hours. We had drug out the ‘closure’ long enough. 36 hours might not seem like much but I counted over 4000 messages in under two weeks. It astounds me how quickly this ‘blew up’ and how deeply it has effected me.

    I have read many of the articles on this site. And I am becoming more and more aware of the mistakes I’ve made that led me to this EA. But neither do I want to diminish the wonderful person I got to know. Despite the deceit I committed, the OW is a remarkable person and I will miss her. I have found praying for her, her husband and her children to be very helpful.

    So I realize that I must turn this OW-sized-hole in my life into a renewed commitment to my wife. I had grown to feel lonely in my marriage. I was undesired and became resentful. However I have recently realized that my job is to “love her into becoming a woman who desires me.” So that is what I have already begun to do. She felt very sad when I told her “You pet the dog more than you touch me,” but I did not say that out of blame. I take all the responsibility on myself and actually look forward to showing her how much I love her.

    So no D-Day. At least not yet. I have restored the boundaries shut down all the methods of contact with phone blocks and unfollowing. Will I confess what happened? I don’t know. But I do know that my job is to love my wife and that is what I am going to do.

    • Doug November 15, 2016 at 9:36 am #

      Thanks for your comment, Scott. I commend you for ending your EA and focusing your attention and energy on your relationship with your wife. Best of luck to you as you go forward.

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