We will be back from our weeklong vacation tomorrow, so today we have another post from the past.  This one is from October of 2010 and deals with some things you should NOT do when trying to talk to your spouse about the affair.

8 Communication ‘Don’ts’ After the Affair

after the affair
Communicating after the affair is imperative for recovery and healing, but you have to go about it the right way.

Communication after the affair is necessary for the victim to understand and to facilitate the healing and recovery process. You have many questions about the affair and its cause, and you want some answers.  Wanting to know all the details about the affair and the OP is very natural.  How you go about communicating with the cheating spouse though is crucial.

Here are 8 “don’ts” for effective communication that we have determined must be avoided so that the victim can have a better chance at getting the cheating spouse to open up and talk about their affair.

Don’t ambush. Jumping all over the cheating spouse when he walks in the door after work is not conducive to a positive exchange of dialogue.  Neither is waking him up in the middle of the night to talk.  It creates a defensive posture and resentment which will cause the cheating spouse to shut down communication and more than likely anger him to boot.  If possible, schedule a time where you can have a productive discussion, or at the very least, ease into a conversation when the situation warrants it.

Don’t turn every conversation into an affair conversation. I’ll explain this one via an example.  Friday night Linda and I were out on the town for a little bit while our daughters were at a football game.  We were having a good time, and we started to talk about our daughters and Linda mentioned that one of their friends was a real flirt.  The next thing I know, Linda is firing questions at me and we were full bore into a conversation about Tanya and her flirtatious tendencies.  I got frustrated and upset that she did that, she got emotional, and basically that portion of our evening was ruined.  (Though it did get better later!)  This leads me to the next “don’t.”

Don’t ruin a good thing. As they say, “Timing is everything.”  Don’t turn a positive experience with your spouse into a disappointing and frustrating event – for both of you.  If you are trying to save your marriage by rekindling some intimacy in your relationship, by let’s say…going out on a romantic boat cruise…This is not a good time to bring up the affair.  The result is more anger and resentment.

Don’t make assumptions. Don’t take a statement made by the cheating spouse and twist it and turn it into something that it is not.  Get a thorough understanding of what he meant – repeat the statement back for clarification if necessary – and come to an agreement of what he really was saying.

Don’t interrogate. Nobody wants to feel as though they are being interrogated by the CIA.  The fact that the victim is going to want to ask questions is actually expected by the cheating spouse.   He knows he is going to have to face the music after the affair. Make it a conversation and not a drill.

Don’t make it a marathon. This goes hand in hand with the interrogation rule.  It’s fine to have a conversation and to answer some questions, but don’t make it something that goes on forever at one sitting.  Short, poignant conversations work best.

Don’t close your ears. Effectively listen to what your spouse is saying.  Repeat for clarification if need be.  Hell, write down the answers if you need to.  This may eliminate the need to ask the same questions over and over.

Don’t be argumentative. This is pretty much self-explanatory, and goes along with the backing off strategy.  If every discussion turns into an argument, then eventually there be fewer and fewer discussions in the future. The result is that communication comes to a standstill.

When you need to get your cheating spouse to talk after the affair, try to follow the guidelines above, and I bet you will have a better shot at good heart-to-heart discussions regarding the affair, your relationship and your future together.

These ideas have either worked for us or are based on mistakes that we have made after the emotional affair, but every situation and relationship is different.  We’d like to hear what has worked – or hasn’t worked for you!

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    62 replies to "Communicating After the Affair"

    • livingonafence

      LOL – “Hey, I cheated, but here are rules YOU must follow or I wll become resentful.”

      Any advice on how to NOT let it eat away at you every waking moment? Any thoughts on how to NOT go insane wondering what you did wrong and why this person you thought loved you unconditionally stabbed you in the back repeatedly? No? OK. I guess I’ll just keep making sure the cheater is ok. After all, I wouldn’t want to make him resentful.

      How dare anyone try to dictate the reaction of someone betrayed so deeply. How dare anyone say that the betrayed ruined anything.

      We were not asked about how or when you should cheat, so don’t tell us how or when to react. If you don’t like how we handle your betrayal, you are free to leave, like you should have done before cheating.

      The CS had their chance to fix the relationship. They decided cheating was the best option. Why? Because it’s easy and selfish. This list is more of that. It’s what’s easiest for the CS, and it selfishly threatens ‘resentment’.

      Does this selfishness ever end?

      • Exercise grace

        Well said. I am sick of tiptoeing around the affair. If I bring it up, I am “choosing not to heal” or I am choosing to “wallow”. Trust me, no one more than me wants to get to a place where I am not in so much pain. But guess what? You chose this. You chose to do this in our HOME. You chose to betray me, and break my trust. Now YOU want to lay down the rules for when and how and if YOUR crap should be dealt with. Where was MY choice? Believe me, I am not saying this is a license to beat you up indefinitely. I am not saying I don’t want to move forward. I’m just saying it is much easier for the cheating spouse to move forward and a heckuva lot more convenient. My husband would like nothing more than to never hear or talk about his affair EVER again. But my pain, insecurity, low self-esteem, and feelings of low self-worth are all too real. I’m doing my best, making mistakes along the way and he is either willing to walk this road to healing or he is not. Frankly for me the worst is hearing how much pain HE was in. I was alone, trying to shield our kids. No ocean front business trips to soften the “pain” for me!

      • Teresa

        Couldn’t agree more, LOAF!!! Like I’ve said before, it’s a win-win for the male CHEATING spouse!! More sex, more pampering, the wife keeps the affair secret from friends and family members in almost ALL the cases, so their reputation isn’t ruined, the wife reads all of the relationship books trying to change herself into a better spouse, etc….yep, a win win for the male CS!!!
        Seriously, someone please explain to me just HOW the male CS loses in all of this?? Anyone??? Because I just don’t see it!

      • Pippi

        Yep, I pretty much had the same reaction when reading that post. I can’t really get on board with that. The best way to rebuild trust IMHO is for the CS to be completely honest — answer ALL questions even if they’ve been asked a million times and it’s 3am.

        It hurts so, so badly to be betrayed.

      • Louise

        Oh my goodness… I read this and thought the exact same thing. At the end of the day cheating of any kind is extremely hurtful and devastating. That being the case, it comes with consequences and they are severe. So if it means that I question you for longer than you would like, bring it up at times that are inconvenient for you, or ask the same questions more than once… Endure It. After all, the annoyance, anger, and resentment that you feel could never amount to the pain, heartbreak, and devastation felt on my end. Because you created this mayhem, you ought to be willing to stick it out, just as I am sticking it out in spite of endless tears, sleepless nights, and mental tormenting thoughts of “not being enough”.

    • Gizfield

      Today’s post is kind of ironic to me, because I was really feeling good about myself for getting upset with my husband yesterday, and NOT making it all about that tramp. I unfortunately am more sensitive to things than I used to be, and my default seems to be to bring the “affair” into the conversation. I am at the point I dont really feel the need to know anything else about this chick and their “relationship”. I mean she thinks it’s ok to date married men with 5 year old children while ignoring her own kid. Enough said, I dont care what her favorite color is, or anything else for that matter. She is not thinking about me and I dont need to be thinking about her. This witch has stolen enough of my time and life!

    • Gizfield

      I agree, LOAF, the one thing that has pissed me off the most is the fact that cheaters act like they are the injured party, not you, Seems to be pretty universal. When I was the cheater 20 years ago I was never caught, so I dont have any perspective on that. I did feel really guilty though so maybe I wouldn’t have been too much of an asshole, but who can really say.

    • Hopeful

      I tend to agree with the sentiment that this advice, though perhaps helpful, is unrealistic in the aftermath and more suited towards making the CS feel ‘comfortable.’ I made some major mistakes as a betrayed spouse, and in my pain and feelings of anger, frustration, and fear, did and said a lot of things that were horrid, including calling my H names and even breaking a tone of meaning objects and hitting him (the latter two of which is something so uncharacteristic of me that I am shocked).

      So, in other words, if your CS is a stonewaller and bully around the EA (which seems common) NOT ambushing in the aftermath is not necessarily the best advice. Yet, again, I understand the advice as important once there is a baseline trust and earnestness established. If we don’t feel safe or that our CS are going to answer our calm questions when we schedule them with straight honesty, what is the point of the rules? Who do they benefit? It pits a dramatic reaction to being lied to as a crazy response, yet a crazy response is the most sane reaction to a person who has continued to lie and deny after being discovered.

      Anyway, I think what is needed is the step before these steps. E.g. What do you need before you can enter productive communication after an affair?

      E.g. to feel you know the basic truth, that you are not going not be lied to when you DO calmly ask for details.

      Frankly, if I had made it comfortable for him, we would have never gotten through the impenetrable deception and stonewalling, nor would he have realized how much he stood to lose or how much pain he caused. My H, though a lovely person in most ways, had a serious mental block that produced massive disconnect between what happened and the consequences or from a capacity to see how truly shitty his actions were. I do not think that self-reflection that was necessary would have happened without me going crazy. There was a forceful of denial and childhood bullshit and defenses that he did not even understand and no amount of time, polite talking, or calm nudging would’ve made a difference.

      All of this is to say, that the above advice seems helpful to me now certainly and after a certain amount of time passed and reflection comes, but wouldn’t have been the greatest starting point for us. IT depends on who the CS is and why they were where they were and how reflection they are being and how infatuated they remain and how willing they are to move forward earnestly.

      It wasn’t until we went to counseling, I found pounds of evidence, we talked and screamed and went through hell, he finally understood (felt, got, sensed, empathized) with the full extent of wrong doing and took responsibility, he finally broke down his defenses and was honest and not defensive, that I could then follow these “rules.” Prior to that, following them would’ve resulted in me being bullied and bowled over and him able to shield me and himself from the truth and consequences. He wanted to get out of this with me thinking there were a few little minor bobbles in email tone and that there was no major attraction or secret meetings. I was to accept, despite every cell in my body telling me the opposite, that this was a legit friendship that just had a vapor of a hint to transgression and I should just get over it. No worries, he is in control. No problem.

    • Surviving

      Ambush worked for me,
      Waking him up at 2am and asking him questions worked he had no time to think and to be honest these were our most productive conversations.

    • Gizfield

      I think the middle of the night or early morning ambush hissy fit method worked best for me. My husband is very intelligent and his work involves continuous contact with others. I rarely interact with others and in a normal conversation with him I just wil not do that well. He is so well spoken and slick talking he can make you believe anything. I prefer written communication myself, helps gather my thoughts as well as remember what on earth was said, lol.

    • Surviving

      Marathon,
      Also worked for me our conversations ended when I was ready when my questions were answered NOT when he felt uncomfortable and wanted it to end.

    • ChangedForever

      A BS never knows when a positive event, conversation, interaction, spoken word, tv show, movie, person, song, smell, or anything else you can think of for that matter, will trigger a flashback or other trigger for them. Hell, even a time of the day, when noticed or announced over the radio sets me off for an affair reason…and i’m STILL not over that one, almost 22mths later. And the CS will just have to live with that, as they are the cause, not the victim. Thats just the way it is. A CS had a choice, and they made it…again & again…a BS did not. Yes, a CS may spend their lives making up for poor choices, and in my opinion? Thats just the way it is. I certainly did not have a choice in this and woud rather not suffer these situations. As far as hindsight goes? Sure, i’ve made mistakes in our recovery, but had i known i was preparing for the fight (& recovery) of my life…? I would have done things differently, but THAT choice was not mine…but the choice of recovery was….

    • Recovering

      I find it unreal that we as BSs have to follow the rules, when the CS obviously did not. Not that 2 wrongs make a right, but really, who the heck are they to demand rules when they don’t follow them themselves!! I ambushed my husband when I found out… and then after that it was just a bunch of screaming and DEMANDING answers because he didn’t want to talk about it, and still doesn’t. Talking about it makes HIM feel like a jerk… well, it ALL makes me feel AWFUL about ME, which I know it shouldn’t because cheating is HIS issue, NOT mine. It isn’t MY job to make sure that he is a moral and trustworthy person… THAT is HIS job… but at the same time it all makes me feel… icky, for lack of a better word. He got naked with someone else, looked forward to seeing the whore…EWWWWW!! She is married with younger children than ours (though she is OLDER than us…again…EWWW). It grosses me out that he touched her in her sick areas! That he WANTED to touch someone like that ANYWHERE! Talking and talking and talking is NOT going to make THAT easier, no matter what, and there shouldn’t be ANY rules of communication that bind me here… What they did was SICK AND WRONG AND EVIL AND DISGUSTING! He said she made him “so happy”… really? REALLY? She is a liar and a cheater and a whore, and THAT makes you happy? Sicko!! Sometimes I wonder how I can still love this man… I guess it is because I don’t love THAT man, I love the man that I thought he was, and the man he acts like he is now… which is not THAT man! EWWWW!!! Now I will go on with my marriage under MY terms, and if he doesn’t like MY rules then he can take a hike! I won’t feel guilty for making HIM feel guilty sometimes.. I live with his sick doings every day… sometimes he just needs to be reminded so he won’t forget what he did that almost ruined us, and sometimes a little drama does that… not that it is planned, but my life is on the line, and he didn’t think of that, and now that is all I think of… trying to get US back when I have lost ME and MY faith in him.

    • Surviving

      Who made up these rules and suggestions? It certainly wasn’t a BS and I agree with all of the above once a CS has had an affair they need to do whatever they can to help the BS heal. This is what books I have read suggest. Not just friends an excellent book on EA, affairs and healing.

    • Teresa

      Sorry Doug…a BIG thumbs down on this post!
      IF and that’s a big IF, the BS is thinking clearly after they’ve just had their lives changed FOREVER, then yea, these “rules” would work….but unfortunately NO BS that I know has reacted calmly when they find out that the person that they have trusted most in life, turns out to be a big, fat, cheating LIAR!!!
      Everything I’ve read since Dday has stated that a CS HAS to feel the BS pain….following these “rules” will NOT insure that!!
      I can just see the conversation now ” Um, dear, um, can we possibly schedule a time to discuss YOUR affair, at your convenience, of course….I’d NEVER want to upset you….would this Wednesday at 3 pm work for you? And I PROMISE it will only last 30 mins, if that’s ok dear….because I certainly don’t want to stress you out, so if it’s not convenient, please think about it, because I KNOW you only want what’s best for me and our marriage”! GAG!!!!
      And Doug, I truly feel that you getting frustrated with Linda for “ruining” YOUR pleasant Friday evening with asking questions about Tanya, is very arrogant!! How about ALL the freaking evenings she’s had ruined because of YOUR affair????
      Geez Doug, you totally frustrate me sometimes…OK, gonna throw this out there…but I sometimes I get the feeling that you get impatient with Linda…because she’s JUST NOT OVER IT yet!! HELLOOOO?? Linda had a trigger, THAT’S why she started questioning you! DUH!
      Well news flash….I don’t think Linda will EVER be over it, nor do I believe ANY BS will just “get over it”!
      You learn to adapt, you learn to live with it, but does it ever go away? NO!!
      And you should realize this Doug, since Linda freaked out a few months ago about Tanya liking the same dance studio on FB that your daughters go to!! AND since she went back to counseling a few weeks ago…Shes NOT OVER IT!!
      Come on Doug, you need to get with it here…this piece was written by a CS with the hope that a BS would actually DO this crap and that’s why it was overwhelmingly dissed by all the other BS responses!

      • Doug

        Teresa (and others), First of all, this post was written two years ago, so perhaps you should take that into consideration before you go around getting all pissed off and frustrated with me. A lot has happened with us and with me since then.

        Secondly, the whole premise of the post to begin with was that in order for effective communication to occur – to talk about the affair and get the information that you, the BS needs – there has to be a safe environment for the CS or he/she will just shut down and nothing will get accomplished. Have you not found that to be the case in your situation?

        Of course these rules aren’t going to work immediately after finding out about the affair. There’s going to be anger and emotions and screaming and yelling – as there should be.

        Take the post for the context it was written – from a cheater who is trying to help the BS understand (from our own experience) what might NOT work when you’re trying to talk about the affair during the recovery process. That’s it.

    • Surviving

      Wow, very defensive and border anger at people for expressing a different point of view, if my H reacted this way towards me I would completely withdrawal and there would be no communication.

      This post might have been written 2 years ago but it was posted today.

      • Doug

        Surviving, No anger. Just trying to clarify. Sorry you took it as such.

    • gizfield

      Doug, I’m seriously not trying to criticize you, but I think what makes people angry is the fact that sometimes you do seem to want to justify your “affair”, even after all this time. I was lonely, it was fun, blah, blah, blah. When you reject that there was anything good about this experience it becomes totally different in your mind and you tend to never do it again. That is what I did as a cheater. He was disgusting, I was disgusting, we were disgusting, and it was disgusting. No gray area, whatsoever. Wrong is wrong, and can never be right. There is not a statute of limitations on this. What Cheaters dont seem to appreciate is how lucky they are that their spouse even wants to discuss this mess with them because the very large majority of people would kick them to the curb, no questions asked. Staying, within reason, is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.

    • Dol

      I’m surprised at people’s reactions – a lot of these rules are an entirely sensible way to stay sane, especially near the start when things are like a bomb site. Many of them I’ve heard from counsellors – particularly, set specific times for “the questions”. Those of you waking up at 2am demanding answers, glad that worked for you – but that’s absolutely not the rule. It will just exhaust most of us in short time. I know, I did it for a while – waking with head full of questions. It’s normal. But it isn’t sustainable or healthy. For me it just made both of us utterly exhausted and my partner constantly on edge. Setting specific times for the barrage of questions helped us start to get a day-to-day routine again.

      Also, these points aren’t really rules. They’re “things to do if you want to make progress”. That doesn’t make it fair – obviously, this situation isn’t fair. BSs are entirely right to get angry, but again it won’t help move things forward by failing to realise righteous anger alone isn’t going to fix anything. Again – it’s not fair, no. But as many, many people have said here before, mending our relationships isn’t always about fair, it’s about what works.

      • livingonafence

        I am not saying this to be critical, so please don’t take it that way, but:

        Didn’t you just move out? After 9 months of using some of these ‘suggestions’? And you moved out because the whole thing was just wearing you down, right?

        My point isn’t picking on you, it’s that if a CS gets to be all comfy cozy and live the life they want, they will do just that – life the life THEY want.

        To move past their crap, there needs to be some pushing, some seeing that we BSs are NOT doormats and will NOT cater to their cheating wants. They get to be uncomfortable, they get to be miserable, on edge, embarrassed, all of it. In essence, they get to live in the shitpile they created.

        Make them comfortable and try to ‘understand’ what they did, and they’ll feel entitled to do more of it. After all, if the only effect it had was for us to be more considerate, it couldn’t have been wrong, right?

        And Doug, saying this was from 2 years ago? Really? Clearly you still believe it or you wouldn’t have posted it again. Why are you so defensive?

        • Doug

          LOAF, There was no particular reason for posting it other than the fact we were on vacation and wanted to adhere to our posting schedule without having to do so while vacationing. It was a random choice – just as the others posted last week were.

    • gizfield

      Dol, I’m not sure which therapist you saw because the input I got was I should leave my husband if he were even talking to another woman. the therapist was probably right on that, but I have found no tolerance for Cheaters anywhere in my “real life” . That is the reason I dont discuss it with anyone, because people think you are crazy to even talk to the cheater at all, much less “on their terms.”

    • Dol

      Gizfield, I’m not sure we’re talking about the same things. I said a counseller suggested we set times for me to ask all the questions I have/had. That was a tactic for staying sane, rather than allowing the questions to take over every single waking hour of our lives. Whereas you say “the input I got was I should leave my husband if he were even talking to another woman” – what? We’re not discussing whether our partners are talking to other people, we’re discussing how we talk to each other, aren’t we?

      Can I ask, how far past d-day are you? Also, the therapist is saying your husband needs to not talk to ANY other woman?

    • Surviving

      Perhaps the clarify should have been in the posting.
      The posting said 8 things don’t do.

      Not everyone on this site knows your whole history some people are coming to this site for the first time and looking for some guidance.
      Others are offering their guidance to BS and their opinions are going to be different from yours.

      When a posting from a CS directed to BS stating what not to do…. Just that wording can put BS on edge.

      • Doug

        Point taken Surviving. It’s funny because when this post was first posted 2 years ago, the comments were overwhelmingly positive. I have no problem with people with differing views. After all, what good would a blog be if everybody agreed 100% of the time? The person I was clarifying things to is a long time reader and I think is quite familiar with our history. Even so, you are correct, I should have made it more clear.

        • Teresa

          Doug, I guess I’m the long time reader you are referring to…I do know your story, which makes my point EXACTLY!!!!
          WHY is Linda STILL feeling insecure so that she had to go see the counselor you wrote about several weeks ago…WHY is Linda freaking out about about Tanya liking the same dance studio on FB??
          Shouldn’t Linda be so secure in your love and marriage that she laughed when Tanya “liked” the same dance studio and thought “What a pathetic fool, get over it”!
          Have you asked yourself what you might do differently to help her so that this isn’t a problem for her?? I mean, really, after almost 4 yrs why are these still issues for her? Does this mean I have another 2 yrs of this hell, based on the fact that I’m at the 20 month mark!
          Just trying to get YOU thinking Doug….like you get all of us thinking! 🙂

          I do apologize for not realizing that this was from Oct. 2010….I didn’t see that….believe it or not, my H and I are doing much better these days, I’m not on here daily like I use to be, but seeing today’s post just threw me right back into trigger land and I can’t imagine that it would help those who are in the first several months of this particular hell!!

          I have in the past, like many others, TRIED to be calm and rational in talking to my H….and he did as many other CS…..tried to sugarcoat the affair, wanted to put it in the past and not talk abut it at all!

          I guess this just upset me because after almost 20 mos out from Dday it really hit me about 3 weeks ago…we ARE moving past the EA, it IS in the past, the cow means nothing to him, the EA doesn’t consume my EVERY waking moment….but in realizing that I also realized that I have changed, forever!

          No going back to what I use to be, no more innocent, trusting wife who thought her H was her best friend, who never questioned where he was or who he was talking or texting on his phone….I now realize that triggers will be there for a very long time….and we still have a lot of work ahead of us!
          He’s my best friend again, BUT I do look at him differently now….wondering if he REALLY learned how gut wrenchingly painful an EA is, and will he ever do it again!

          So I cried, saying goodbye to the “old me” amd I’m now trying to accept the new me, someone I don’t really know and not sure I like!!! I’m not as open as I use to be, not as trusting, more critical…hmmm, guess you found that out, huh, Doug 😉

          For ALL of us, this is a LOONNGGG road to walk down…And I’ve hated every step of it, but I HAVE made it to the other side, it’s still painful, but not as much as before…I know my H and I are going to make it, but this has changed our relationship, will have to wait and see what finally emerges.

          • Doug

            Glad to hear back from you Teresa. Wonderful comment too, btw, and I’m so glad that you have progressed so far in your own recovery. I ask myself all the time what I need to do to help Linda to completely recover and heal, and I’m pretty sure that Linda would concur that I am doing everything I can. That doesn’t mean I don’t F-up every now and then. Also, if there is something that she wants me to do, she tells me. Sometimes I think that ending this blog is the answer. There are always the triggers which I’m sure will affect her for a while as well, though will lessen as time goes on. Linda went back to counseling partly due to the realization that our marriage will never be like it was and needs some direction in how to cope with that. If anyone has the answer on how I can help with that, I’m all ears.

            • Exercise grace

              I would love to read a post from Linda at some point on this. Five months from dday and I am hitting a wall of anger. I think that is exactly what I am struggling with in the aftermath of my husbands EA/PA. Our relationship is forever changed. It is such a painful realization.

            • livingonafence

              Honestly, and no disrespect to either of you, but sometimes I think Linda is ‘stuck’ in the affair aftermath. On the forum I started ‘positive week’ and went out of my way to NOT let the EA ruin things for me. I’ve written about practicing being happy,about not letting everything get to you. It works.

              But, if a person somehow ties something to the affair every day and lets it take over, then theyre stuck. I do think about what my H did every day, but I don’t let it get to me. Sometimes, it does, but with each day it gets easier to push that aside. It isn’t lack of action that gets us unstuck, it’s action. It’s intentionally moving past it, one trigger at a time.

              This isn’t for someone that’s only a few months from DDay, and it isn’t for someone who’s spouse is not working to fix things. It is for someone that has the right mix of time, effort and desire. I believe Linda has those things.

              Unfortunately for you Doug, you can’t suggest Linda give this a try because that would be taken as “get over it”, but I don’t see her here too often. Maybe asking her to read some of the more recent posts on the forum would help her?

              I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: We BSs that decide to stay have to realize the relationship will not be what it was. However, it is up to US if it becomes nothing more than two people that survive to remember one person cheating, or if it becomes a good relationship with two happy people.

              Being stuck is dangerous. Its depressing and unmotivating, and if a person stays ‘stuck’, they will forever define themselves as the victim of cheating.

            • Doug

              You make a lot of sense there LOAF but I’m not sure that she is stuck as you define it. I’m sure like you, she thinks about it every day, but I don’t think that it takes her over that frequently, though at times it does indeed. Everything else about our life and our relationship is wonderful right now and I do agree that she has the effort and desire to eventually move past it.

              I think you might like today’s discussion topic too, btw.

    • Hopeful

      I can see both the logic of the rules and why everyone is criticizes them (self included). Basically, as I said above, based on my experience, these tips for effective communication weren’t useful to me until I cracked through my H’s bullshit and he broke down. This would not, I swear to God, and he would agree, have happened through rational conversation. I started out relatively calm-ish, even if angry, telling him basically, “Hey, here’s what I think happened, I need you to tell me the whole, coherent story and own up to what happened and why.” Well, I was right form day one, more or less, and it took him an additional four months to admit he was even attracted to her and another five months to actually admit the full extent. He lied to me repeatedly, with tears in his eyes, with me saying I love him, with me being calm. He lied to his counsellor, to mine, and to our marriage counsellor to six months, telling us we knew everything.

      I was literally going crazy because I KNEW this story he told me was untrue. I KNEW he was still in contact for awhile. I KNEW there was more. I KNEW he hadn’t admitted to me or even fully to himself. All he had done was superficial work of feeling really bad and admitting he made a mistake. He had emotionally reconnected with me and earnestly wanted to move on with love in his heart, having not admitted to me what happened, having lied to me, having preventing me from healing by denying me confirmation of my instinct ions, by placing me in a position of insanity and cycles of searching for, finding, and then being destroyed by more evidence, which I sought like a madwoman because I KNEW there was more (that or I was insane).

      Now, we do follow this points of advice. I am still triggered daily and nightly and now, because of what we have been through in terms of healing and because of his honesty and personal work, it IS indeed now my work to learn to let things go, find resources to desensitize and sooth myself, to calmly seek support when I am afraid, to fully enjoy being with him and fighting to stave off slippery slides of emotion when triggered. Now, these work. But then… when he couldn’t face himself and refused to see himself as a cheater and as a man who selfishly chose to hurt a woman he did love very much to get ego stroking from a pretty vile fantasy woman sue to unresolved childhood bullshit…before he was willingness to give over his defenses and be vulnerable and do the hard and painful work that he was humiliated to admit to…until then…there was no hope.

      I think I knew this all along intuitively. And, thus, I was in the crazy making stage.

      All this said, the thing that was most effective was gathering evidence and confronting him. If I didn’t have evidence, I think we may never have gotten here. It is as if he couldn’t see what a shit he was and needed external proof himself.

      Evidence and me saying look, I love you. I want to work with you. I need the full story, knowing it is hard for you to tell, to confirm my instincts and sense of self and to know you are on the level and willing to tell me the truth. You are lying to me, I know it, and I am done with this game. I do not know exactly what you are lying about or withholding, but I am done with this game. I’ll give you some time to write down the full story and then we’ll talk. He did. Later more things turned up as lies, but generally I did get the story.

      Anyway, I think a new post might be one about what is needed in the relationship before this advice would work.

      • Doug

        Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ll have to check to see if we haven’t already done a post like you suggested somewhere along the line. If so, I will re-post, or provide a link.

      • Exercise grace

        This is one of the best and most honest posts I have ever read! So very true! I confronted my husband every step of the way and not only did he lie, but he would verbally attack me. He tried to tell me I was crazy , paranoid, trying to ruin us financially by distracting him from his work, and on it went. Even he will tell you now that it took seeing me willing to Fight for our relationship that began to turn things around. Ambush? Oh yes! Long, emotional fights? Yes again!. It took what it took, every situation is different, but thank God he never left and we are trying to heal now.

    • gizfield

      Dol, we are talking about the same thing. I was seeing the therapist about 2 years ago, due to panic attacks caused by finding out my husband was talking with the same tramp he had been seeing a year before. I am saying that he told me there was something wrong WITH ME that I would even communicate with him at all. I dont know if it is because I’m from the South, but around here, with most folks it’s “one strike, you’re out.” And truthfully, if there were not a minor child involved, I would be inclined towards that myself. So, I guess I’m saying that the majority of people I know would have left my situation, no questions asked, therefore no rules of engagement. No second chances, no explanations. And like the other commentors, the only time I have really made any progress is when I have “lost my s$@t”. Rational conversation has proven ineffective.

    • Loyal wife

      When I first read this blog I initially thought why do I have to follow rules when my CS did not. He lied over and over and stonewalled and I have every right to be angry and hurt. As such I think I broke many of these rules for communication along the way. At some point I think maybe I need to think about what is the purpose of our communicating, if it is to heal, recover and move forward and have a better relationship then I need to think about how am I best going to achieve this goal. It isnt about letting them off the hook or making it easier for the CS but if we can get them to be honest and open up and engage in a dialogue about how and why does that not also help us the BS in our recovery??

    • exercisegrace

      Doug, I completely understand and appreciate the spirit behind posting the article and in general I think it has a lot of good points. As the betrayed spouse…..

      Here would be my response to these rules:

      1. Offer information truthfully and freely when asked. Don’t MAKE me ambush you as a way to get at the truth. Be open to scheduling a time to talk about YOUR affair, daily or even more often in the beginning. This will taper off as the shock wears off and as the information your betrayed spouse NEEDS to have is given.

      2. Be aware that especially in the beginning, there are triggers at every turn. Even a pleasant evening out came very quickly become painful. Be ready to help guide your betrayed spouse to safer ground again, and most importantly know that for the first few weeks or months, most of your conversations ARE going to be about the affair. The betrayed spouse hates talking about this as much as you do. This is a consequence of an action YOU chose. Sorry.

      3. Don’t ruin a good thing? Your choice already has. That romantic night out (again mostly in the first weeks and months) is likely to be full of triggers. Did you take HER out for an expensive dinner? Buy HER flowers? Take HER on cruise? Buy her jewelery? Until the “story” of the affair is told, and until your betrayed spouse begins to feel SAFE in the relationship again, even a relaxing evening out can became a sad evening out. We don’t want it to be that way, it just is. It is sometimes a painful reminder that our spouse has given/shared these things somewhere and with someone they shouldn’t. Patience and understanding are keys. Once again, guide them back to safer waters by saying something like…I love being here with YOU and there is no one I would rather be with. I am SORRY i have made you feel otherwise. What can I do, right in THIS MOMENT to help you feel safe again?

      4. Don’t make assumptions…..this is a good one and goes in both directions. Don’t assume your betrayed spouse *knows* how you feel about them. TELL them. OFTEN. Apologize. Often. Ask for clarification and don’t assume that just because certain things used to be fun or funny or “in bounds” that they still are. Ex; an old joke my husband and I have had for years, can now make me cry.

      5. Don’t interrogate….don’t make me drag the information out of YOU. Offer up what I am asking you gently, lovingly, and apologetically. If you only respond in yes or no answers, I guarantee you are going to get peppered with questions. Gently ask me what level of detail I am READY to hear or looking to understand. Then tell the story. Hold me when I cry, comfort me through the hard parts. Apologize often. Remind me that you are WITH ME and that you WANT TO BE.

      6. Don’t make it a marathon….don’t cut me off if I need to talk. This situation was not my doing or my choosing. As long as I am holding up and being respectful, you need to be willing to continue. Asking for a break is fine. Refusing to continue a conversation is not.

      7. Don’t close your ears. A good statement for both parties. however, as a cheating spouse you WILL hear the same questions asked again and again. This is borne out by much research. Everyone has their reasons, but usually more information comes out with the second and third iteration. To prevent some of this, be truthful and give as much information as you possibly can and as your betrayed spouse is ready and able to hear. If you didn’t want to be questioned, you should NOT have engaged in QUESTIONABLE BEHAVIOR to begin with.

      8. Don’t be argumentative. This also is a really good one. BUT it will happen. Emotions run high, feelings are deeply wounded. The pain of betrayal spills out as anger sometimes. RECOGNIZE this. Prepare for it. Suggest getting up and taking a walk. Physical activity can let out some of the stress and steam.

      • tsd

        Exercisegrace, you seem to be pretty strong, I’m sorry you have been hurt, but it seems like you are on the road of wisdom and will weather quite well. Good for you!!!! I was no where you are at five months, I’m impressed. I’m hope things get better for your marriage.

      • Doug

        EG, Wonderful response. Every CS should read this and learn. thank you!

    • Surviving

      Exercise Grace,
      It’s only been 5 months for you… It does get better. Are you keeping a journal? It helped me to write my thoughts down. When I go back and read my entries from 6 months out there was so much raw pain and anger, that part has gone away. Time helps, working on yourself helps, and dealing with all the issues helps. At times it was overwhelming and I just wanted the pain to end, and it does end.
      You will also find comfort from people on this site that have traveled this journey. Read some of the postings Linda had written in the past they are very helpful.
      Take care of yourself and know that people care…

    • Dol

      LOAF: it should be for me to decide if something I discuss on the forums also ends up on the blog here. It’s a different (larger) audience. Doug/Linda, if that isn’t already in the forum rules, can I suggest it’s explicitly put in? Assume something discussed on the forums is private to the forums.

      That said, LOAF, I think there’s some confusion here that might shed light on this stuff. I’m genuinely surprised by the negative reaction to these points, though I think that’s happened because of the framing, not the points themselves. At no point did my CS ‘get comfy cosy’. All the usual hard and fast requirements were there. It’s been 9 months, as you say, and we’ve come a very long way towards fixing things. The recent event that caused my needing some space was quite minor (a random corridor conversation at work, some renewed feelings) but due to a series of other pressures in my life, it pushed me over the edge and I needed to get away. I am now ‘away’ and we’re both feeling positive that we can get some space, regroup and be OK. We’ll see. (What a luxury to be able to get this space! So many families couldn’t do it, and I wonder how many would massively benefit from regular time to re-orient and remember who you are outside of ‘us’?)

      I think it’s dangerously wrong-headed to suggest the reason I’m in this position is that I’ve been a push-over or allowed my partner to ‘get comfortable’. I’m sensing a kind of absolutism on the part of some BSs here that just isn’t sustainable if you want a successful relationship. Or rather – if you have your bottom lines that can’t be crossed, OK. That’s how it works for you. And of course, absolutely, there should be no contact etc. But short of giving our partners lobotomies we have to deal with the fact that it’s a slow recovery, and there will be setbacks. That’s where I am now – going through a setback, coupled with some horrible things elsewhere in my life. To imply this is happening because I’ve been too considerate? Hmm.

      Perhaps the points listed here should have been framed in a way that made clear they’re guidelines for BOTH parties. People seem offended that they imply the BS has to do all the work. I also think it would be good to distinguish stages of recovery. For the time period where the BS is in “question avalanche mode”, these kind of guidelines are the most vital, simply for allowing the structure of one’s day to start to return. The requirement there for the CS – and again this is something our counsellor made clear – is that the BS’s questions will NEED answering, and that we may need to ask them many, many times as our mind finds new angles and tries to assimilate.

      I think the CS anger reaction is common enough that it probably needs it’s own set of guidelines, and I think this is where I probably part ways with people commenting here. For the first period, my partner did very well. Then her anger asserted itself, and it made it next to impossible for my continued questioning to work. If I’d have continued, we would have separated. I was at a point where I had some control over my own mind, and so could withdraw a little, and I could also work out how to negotiate my partner’s mental state.

      The point about that: getting on my high horse and going “I’m the betrayed one! How very dare you have any demands or feelings at all!” is less than helpful. Yes, we’re the betrayed ones – but that doesn’t mean that all the usual rules of relationship give and take have suddenly been suspended. Of course they haven’t. If anyone here is reading this as saying, “you’re just capitulating to the CS,” you’ve missed the point. Turning your relationship into a war zone is not a very promising way to progress.

      That said, it also reads like a lot of people’s CSs are being complete idiots and giving nothing. I’m not justifying that at all. If that’s the case, there are going to be difficulties. The CS does need to get to the point where they see what they’ve done, and can start helping. If you’re not anywhere near that stage yet – if the CS is even refusing to acknowledge the problem – I’m not sure the guidelines here are going to help. You need to back up one stage and work out how to get them to see. If they can’t/won’t see despite your best efforts over a period of time, that’s a sign they’re unlikely to ever get it.

      Teresa: your comment to Doug is implying that if Linda is having problems, Doug must be responsible. While it’s absolutely vital for our partners to understand when we’re having hard time and support us through it, again, I think the implication here is wrong. If any of us had been in a car accident or (god forbid) survived an attack of some sort, we would likely be traumatised. There would be times when we’d relive it. Being the victim of an affair is its own kind of trauma. I came back from holiday recently and, out of absolutely nowhere (well, being back home around triggers again!) my brain sent me on two weeks of reliving each and every element of the initial discovery. It was horrible, I could do nothing to stop it, like being forced to watch a movie in slow motion each day – but my partner had done NOTHING at that point to trigger it, and supported me at the time as well as she could. This can happen completely independently of the actions of our partners. It’s the trauma causing it. Implying Doug must always be responsible misses that fact. That’s not also to say that CSs can’t cause more problems or fail to be supportive of our continued suffering (“why aren’t you OVER it yet??”) – of course they can. But the psychological damage of an affair continues to have its own effect on us, and would do even if we started a new life.

      Doug: I can see why you’d think that you might need to stop running this blog. I have to confess, when things are good between me and my partner, I don’t come here precisely because it’s too much of a reminder. Have you/Linda actually discussed this issue with a counsellor? There may be ways of managing it at a distance or, yes, if it’s a block to your recovery, I could understand why you might need to stop for a while. I wonder if there are any professional counselling services that you might talk to about keeping the moderation going, to give yourselves a longer break? I don’t know of any other resource on the web that’s so effective – it’s been a relationship-saver for me (this month away notwithstanding), so I can understand why you feel you need to keep it going. But it might be that another organisation might be able to help you get some distance from it?

      • Doug

        Dol, great comment. We have not discussed the continuation of the blog with a counselor, though that might be a good idea. At the very least we have been thinking about trying to implement more of a “guest post” format where we would post blogs submitted by other individuals. This would not only help us (especially Linda) to step away more but would also inject some differing opinions and circumstances that could create some further debate/discussions on the site. The problem is finding the folks that would want to write the posts. I bet if I inquired, there would be lots of counselors/therapists that would jump at the chance to moderate or get involved in some way.

        To be honest, I don’t really see us just suddenly pulling the plug on the site or anything like that, but there may be some transformation to where we have less involvement. We still want to be a part of helping people get past infidelity but with 550 posts already written, it’s getting tougher and tougher all the time.

        Thanks for your input – I appreciate it very much.

    • livingonafence

      Dol, I apologize if you’re offended, but you aren’t the first person that has had something brought from the forum to the blog, or vice versa. I assure you I won’t do it with you again.

      Now, a reply to what you just wrote. No one here is saying that there is no give and take. No one said a BS should get to talk endlessly forever about the affair.

      The rules above are for the BS only. It states “How you go about communicating with the cheating spouse is crucial”, so you’re wrong to think this is a set of communication guidelines for a couple. It is exactly as we read it – a set of rules for the BS.

      Now, given how well we all know CSs abide by rules, to ask someone so hurt, so betrayed, to follow rules regarding how they discuss their betrayal is ridiculous

      Did Linda ask to think about the affair? Did she ask to have her mind overwhelmed with horrible thoughts of Doug being so romantic and loving with someone else? No, she didn’t. And she shouldn’t be made to feel like she is ruining everything if she brings it up on her timeline. No BS should. We were dragged into this hell, and we’re the lucky ones that get to stay here while the CS and OP move along their merry way with all the ‘fun’ memories of their time together.

      Yeah, I’m really concerned that his dinner out might be ruined.

      And I find it interesting that you insist your partner had NOTHING to do with you triggering. Yes, she did. She cheated. You’re really letting her off the hook if you think otherwise. You would have NO triggers if she hadn’t cheated. Her helping you is great, but to go back to your ‘attack’ scenario, if you were attacked, would you not blame the attacker for having nightmares? Or would you say “He had nothing to do with it – I had the nightmares all by myself!” You have triggers because she cheated, end of story.

      Honestly, we aren’t missing the point. We all know the affair can’t be everything all the time. We also know that we don’t need rules to get to a better place. In fact, the people that posted against these rules are all in a better place, or most of us are – a much better place.

      Every last rule of a relationship is out the window when one person cheats. The cheater threw the rulebook away. And if my H wants to leave because he doesn’t like my reaction to his betrayal, then I’ve lost nothing but a selfish ass that is only interested in his own comfort.

      He made the rules up when he decided to cheat. I get to make up the rules on how I feel better. This point isn’t debatable.

    • tsd

      My comment to this blog??? It’s like a ping pong game…my head is bouncing back and forth….Doug, don’t drop the blog!!!! This and the healing forum are just that…healing….I like both, both help, and I learn from both….have to say, if I disagree with something, I just lay low….without seeing the persons face, I cannot let my written words be misused by others, and I have friends in here that I want to keep as friends….I did understand your time of two years previous, and at that time, for most of them of the rules worked….but it’s like most advice, you take what you want to apply…Now back to your corners and play nice!!!!!!

      • tsd

        At the time, most of them….sorry

        • Doug

          I was wondering what a “memoslem” was! 😉

          • tsd

            Hahahaha…you would have thought I was on vacation not you!!!!!!

    • Gizfield

      Choose the behavior, choose the consequences I always say. I agree with LOAF on this one. If he hadn’t cheated, there wouldn’t be triggers, end of story. And other than me getting mad occasionally, asking him a few questions, and throwing him out for 3 days he has suffered very few consequences. His friends dont know, his life hasn’t changed, and I dont think he is sufferingI in any way. So, yeah, I dont feel compelled to follows the rules of engagement, so yes I have a problem with them, not the post. We dont really discuss this a lot, however, and thats fine with me. I doubt he wil l ever have my point of view, so I dont se e a reason to try to change that. I have had to play the adult role while he gave in to his “child” role, so if I act out occasionally I am not going to worry about it. he chose the consequences, NOT me.

    • Surviving

      Doug,
      You and Linda should be able to have vacations or breaks from this forum just as we all do.

    • Dol

      Sorry LOAF, turns out you’re right – people do transfer stuff from the forum and back again. My bad, sorry for suggesting otherwise.

      LOAF: “It is exactly as we read it – a set of rules for the BS.” I did actually say: “Perhaps the points listed here should have been framed in a way that made clear they’re guidelines for BOTH parties” – i.e. they should be re-written so that they put obligations on both parties. I completely agree, guidelines that apply only to the BS would be a downright silly idea.

      “And I find it interesting that you insist your partner had NOTHING to do with you triggering. Yes, she did. She cheated. You’re really letting her off the hook if you think otherwise. You would have NO triggers if she hadn’t cheated. Her helping you is great, but to go back to your ‘attack’ scenario, if you were attacked, would you not blame the attacker for having nightmares? Or would you say “He had nothing to do with it – I had the nightmares all by myself!” You have triggers because she cheated, end of story.”

      I suspect we’re not going to agree on this. If I were reliving a trauma because of some attacker, of course I might well be angry and blame them. I’m not saying I wouldn’t. That wouldn’t change the fact that the reliving episode need have nothing to do with any action on their part. It would be my brain acting on its own timetable. This just a matter of plain fact: yes, an attacker did the attacking. Yes, I would likely get angry and blame them and be scared of them etc. But no, they don’t need to be involved in my reliving the trauma of the attack. That’s ALL I was saying.

      You’re conflating two things that are logically separate and missing my point in the process. Teresa said: “WHY is Linda STILL feeling insecure so that she had to go see the counselor you wrote about several weeks ago… Have you asked yourself what you might do differently to help her so that this isn’t a problem for her?? I mean, really, after almost 4 yrs why are these still issues for her?” My point is simply that the BS may be doing absolutely everything they could possibly do at that point, and this WILL NOT GUARANTEE OR STOP the BS from sometimes suffering. Indeed, it’s important for both parties to know that triggers will last years, and sometimes be bad enough to set the mind into this ‘reliving’ mode. That’s all. It sounded to me like Teresa was saying: if only Doug was able to do x,y,z then Linda’s suffering would immediately cease. That just isn’t the case. Note that it’s quite possible that a CS may well still be acting in a damaging way – obviously, that’s possible. But my point is that the trauma of an affair has it’s own life beyond anything the BS or CS is able to do. (Though again, of course, they should be aware that this will happen and be ready to do what they can to support the BS.)

      I am struggling to see why this should be such a difficult point, but I’m interested to find out. It seems like you read into anything I say that I want to let the BS “off the hook” and that’s simply not allowable. First-off, I’m certainly not letting her off the hook. A recent tiny resurgence of her feelings, and the fact that she kept one small random corridor conversation they had from me, and I’m now in my own flat in a different city and I’m considering if we can continue. If this doesn’t make it clear enough to her, I don’t know what will. (And thank you hugely for your support on the forum, LOAF).

      The problem might come down to the different kinds of CS involved. Where are you with yours? I’m afraid I’m not up to speed. I feel like I’m in a very privileged position in that I do actually trust my partner to be frank with me. Honesty is the lifeblood of our relationship; hence why it’s currently so threatened, since she could only keep one tiny secret from me for about a week, and I can’t tolerate that. Not rationally – I mean psychologically can’t tolerate it. I think other people are perhaps dealing with CSs who haven’t even properly acknowledged the wrong they’ve done, let alone made any great strides towards starting to put things back together again. If that’s the situation anyone’s in, I can see why my arguments might seem like capitulation. And I certainly wouldn’t ask ANYONE to continue to deal with a CS who isn’t stretching every sinew to undo the damage they’ve done.

      I’ll leave it there. Seems like there’s something important here in our differences, I hope we can find out what it is and not just get stuck in our trenches. To pick up on your last point: “He made the rules up when he decided to cheat. I get to make up the rules on how I feel better. This point isn’t debatable.” Again, I’m surprised if this is working. I’ve just been reading through too good to leave, too bad to stay again, and it repeatedly raises the problem of absolutism (either as off-the-table-itis or other power issues). And, as I say, I simply can’t see how those basic, fundamental rules of working relationships can be suspended permanently in the way you’re suggesting. I can see how they have their time while some basic protective structures get put in place, but longer term? Obviously, if we’re talking about essential ‘no contact’ rules, but your rule here is much more general: you’re saying you get to set the agenda at all times, and that you’re partner lost all rights to contribute to the relationship’s set-up the moment they cheated. At least, that’s how it comes across.

    • livingonafence

      Dol, you wrote”I completely agree, guidelines that apply only to the BS would be a downright silly idea.” That’s what these are. If you’re saying they should be something else, fine, but what they are right now are for the BS only, so what else is there to say?

      I’m not going to speak to what Teresa said, because she said it. I’m well aware that a CS can do everything humanly possible and the BS may still not heal from an affair. As I said in my comment to Doug, some BSs get ‘stuck’ and for reasons that are theirs stay in ‘the affair’ for a very long time.

      And along those lines, yes, I do get to dictate how I heal. We all do. To think that my healing is dependent on someone else is actually going against everything you’ve written, if I’m reading you correctly. My H can choose to be a part of it or not, and I can let him be a part of it or not. I wasn’t offered a choice in being a party to something as sleazy and weak as an affair, and I don’t need someone that is that sleazy and weak to help me out of it. If he wants to stay with me, he will accept what I need him to do. If not, he’s well aware that the world is a big place and he’ll be free to be anywhere in it except where I am. Again, not debatable.

      You’re reading that, I assume, to mean that I get to act like an insane person and attack him at will. I don’t. I did for the first few months, absolutely, but not now. Now, if I feel like talking about it, I ask. No yelling, crying, throwing things, etc. Usually at this point, I just remind myself that I chose to stay married, and if I want that to be a good marriage I can’t stay ‘stuck’ in the affair. I need to move on.

      Where are we, as in me and my H? We’re good. Very good, actually. Do I have my moments? Yep, but I always had my moments. Everyone does. He does too. But do I use the affair against him? Usually not. Have I? Yes, unfortunately. He’ll say something to me and I’ll attack. I don’t know if that will always be there, but if I’m feeling attacked myself, I’m going to lash out in return, and I’m probably going to use the easiest thing available. That would be the affair. After all, what better way to say I’m better than him than to remind him of his disgusting actions, right? Like I said, it’s unfortunate that I’ve done that, but if I’m to be honest, I have to admit that I’ve done it.

      Do I actually think I’m better than him? In a way I do now. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to go for the easy ego boost, the cheap thrill. I didn’t, not once. Why? Because I mean what I say, and I said I was his. He said he was mine, but he broke that promise. Apparently, I’m the one in this relationship that has any integrity or self respect. So yes, in those terms, I think I’m a better person than him. Is that a good thing? Probably not, but again, if I’m to be honest, that’s the truth.

      Does that mean I think him a terrible person? No, not at all. I know he ‘made a mistake’ ( I hate that expression, btw. Thousands of texts and phone calls, lying about even having a FB account, saying he was talking to his aunt, etc is not ‘A MISTAKE’ – it was a series of thousands of choices, not a mistake) by acting out in such a negative way and I realize that none of it was an attack on me (although he said plenty of horrid things about me to her, all lies) but instead a way for him to get whatever it was he was missing. That doesn’t make it hurt any less. Whatever his reasons, he was able to forget about ‘us’ to do it. That hurts.

      As far as you letting her ‘off the hook’, sometimes that’s how your posts read. Obviously, you can have triggers without the CS doing something, and without an attacker doing something, but the reality is you wouldn’t have them at all if not for the CS, so in part every last moment you trigger is her fault. It is a direct result of her actions. But you don’t blame her, as if it’s your fault you’re having a trigger. I honestly don’t even think it’s healthy for a person to try so hard to not blame the CS for the fallout of the affair. She needs to know all of the damage she’s caused. You can tell yourself all day long that the trigger moments are on you, but they aren’t – they’re on her.

      There is nothing wrong with blaming the CS for the problems caused by their affair. Should you own your part in the relationship up to that point? Of course, but she made the decision to choose someone else for comfort instead of working with you to create a better relationship. So now you’re left, through no fault of your own, with so many unanswered questions, insecurities, triggers, anger, etc. All of this is because she lacked the integrity to make an adult choice as to how to work on her relationship, and instead went for the very easy affair. And it seems, you aren’t angry about that. That is very much letting her off the hook.

    • livingonafence

      And you are more than welcome for any support on the forum, here, or elsewhere. We all handle this differently and we need to do what’s right for us. I hope you don’t read my comments and take them to mean I think you’re handling things incorrectly. I don’t, and there is no such thing. Again, you get to heal how you want. We all do. All I can do is make you and others think of different possibilites, and that’s all I can get out of anyone else’s comments. That, however, is a very good thing. Knowing we aren’t the only ones dealing with this type of issue is a good thing.

    • Gizfield

      I think one thing that is irritating to me, personally, and these guidelines are an example is that Cheaters seem to think that they are guaranteed a Second Chance. It is not a right, it is a privilege that has been extended to you by your spouses, so IF you are given a change to discuss you might want to consider doing it. for every person on here, there are probably hundreds who in your situation would have had no further dealings with you except through thelegal system. You would findyourself kicked out of your home, paying child support, left with a fellow adulterer, on your way to being the “old guy/ chick” at the club. Most spouses have ZERO TOLERANCE for sneaking around, one strike you are out…so consider yourself privileged.

    • Dol

      LOAF, thank you for that. There’s something deeply moving in what you wrote I can’t quite pin down; I think it might be the sense of self-worth and self-awareness you have.

      My relationship at the moment is like a boat – doesn’t matter what an amazing construction we’ve built together, there’s still a chance that she’s knocking holes in the bottom. The state of the rest of the boat matters not a jot when you do that – it sinks regardless. She needs to get that into her head, because I don’t think I can go back without really feeling like she’s acknowledged her part in why I’m now living in a different city. I’m not sure that’s letting her off the hook, but I can see why you say that, from a lot of the things I’ve written.

      Life intervenes too. I only have a few weeks left on my contract, and it’s only lasted 11 months. I had only a short time to get some stuff done – but d-day happened two weeks into the job starting and it turned into a complete car crash. A very understanding boss helped, but that didn’t change that nothing much got done for a long time. I told my partner: if this doesn’t work out, I’m probably going to struggle to get past my blaming you for stuffing this chance I had, even if I wanted to. She replied, yup, fair ’nuff, I’m angry with myself for making it so much harder. (I can imagine you objecting right there and I can see why – my tone’s all “terriby sorry, but I’m likely to be cross at you if my career goes down the toilet…!” Not sure I do real anger – not sure I actually *want* to direct my full fury at my partner – I do still love her!)

      But about an hour after that, I discovered a grant we put in came through, and work is secure for a while longer. The change is incredible – and the effect on what my mind is doing is also profound. My turning to blame and recrimination has ceased – at least on the work front. Serendipity and life events play a big, big role in whether we can get through all of this horror.

    • chiffchaff

      Communication is still an issue for us, even though things are much much better.
      We have a big event coming up in that my neice has invited us both to her upcoming party where all my family will be there. It took alot of thinking to decide whether to accept as my H has made no effort whatsoever to try and heal that effect of his affair himself (all of this last year has really shown just how weak he is when it comes to properly difficult stuff – just avoid it and maybe it will all just magically change, I digress). I know it makes him sad to think about this effect on our lives due to his selfishness, and so it should, if you know what I mean?
      But in tiptoeing around the accepting the offer and implications for my family and what their reactions might be, my sister mentioned that she hoped my H had ‘alot to say for himself’ when she saw him. My H really didn’t understand what this meant. Again, I had to explain that he has, not once, apologised to them or tried to talk with them in anyway. They had to look after me at Christmas because he devastated my life with his trickle of half truths and full blown lies.
      This discussion meant he finally said that he just wished it would all just stop, everything about his affair that is. He didn’t want to think about it, or be analysed or stereotyped and my view was that he lost the right to that when he chose to screw someone else just because he wanted to and threw me under a bus. He did something that falls into a cliched stereotype and his ego still doesn’t like it. It conflicts with his long held view that he was a ‘better person’ than everyone else despite knowing exactly what he’s done. It wasn’t an angry discussion at all either. I felt in some ways it was again a bit of a watershed time, it was clear he values me and us again and also admitted that talking about it and how difficult it still is for me at times helps him process what he’s done, even if it’s done reluctantly.
      Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the day I found that BBM about ‘beautiful arabseque arches’ from ‘Dana loves plums’ while we were on holiday together. Even now his memory is selective about that time as he swears blind he never conversed with her while he was there, but then that’s how I found out, she BBM’d him while he was buying drinks in response to him sending a photo taken seconds from when we sat down.
      So, a year later and communication is still difficult but still essential. we’re better at it but my H still needs to catch up and open up more.

    • 10st

      I’m a new member here and I guess I’m just looking for some advice and support from people who have been here before. I apologize for the disjointed nature of what will follow but my head is absolutely spinning. I have been with my wife for ten years and early in our relationship, she had a series of emotional affairs with men on the Internet. We worked hard to rebuild our relationship and as far as I knew, she had been completely faithful to me for the past seven. A week ago Sunday, she woke me up to tell me that she has begun a PA with somebody from work. I was devastated and spent the day trying to come to terms with what had happened. We don’t have kids (thank goodness) but we both have high stress jobs and over the past couple of months, we have not been making enough of an effort to connect with each other after work. I started to feel that something was wrong in mid May and made an effort to be a better, more attentive husband but she pushed me away and like an idiot, I took the bait and withdrew.
      To make a long story short, she left the house the Monday after she told me and essentially moved in with him. Keep in mind that the phone bill suggests that they had been seeing each other for less than a week at that point. I have seen her a grand total of about six hours in the past two weeks. She came over late last Friday night and slept in the guest bedroom and we spent Saturday together. We had an amazing day and she told me that she loved me and started talking about our future and all of the amazing things about our relationship. After five wonderful hours and a ton of kind words, she packed a bag with a weeks worth of stuff and left. She texted me a few times during the week telling me that she would be coming home to see me and then never showed up. She told me that she will come by tomorrow but I’m not holding my breath and frankly, I’m not sure I should be home if she does.
      Today in a moment of weakness, I did something I told myself I would not do. I opened her e-mail account and snooped. I feel guilty and it put me in a worse place than ever and I shouldn’t have done it. Not only did I find a bunch of sappy e-mails between her and the OM (kind of expected), I found out that she had re-connected with with one of her old EA partners from years ago online and had sent him nude pictures of herself, graphic stories and poems that she wrote about the two of them and references to Skype conversations and mutual masturbation over web cam. I know now that all of the trust I thought she earned was misplaced and that it is very likely that she was doing these things all along.
      In spite of that, I still want more than anything to fix our marriage. I’m probably being an idiot because I know now that this is probably a compulsive behavior and that she will never respect me or herself enough to be honest about what it is. The thought of her throwing her life away, bouncing from man to man, trying to find perfection eats at me. The loneliness I feel right now also hurts like hell. In less than two weeks, I’ve lost just over 25lbs (about 20 of which I probably could have stood to lose) and I’m a complete train wreck both at work and at home. I’m trying to not make myself available to her when she wants to meet a need that the OM can’t meet but it’s hard. I know that every time I pick up the phone, answer a text message or get my hopes up that she will actually come see me, I am enabling her and her behavior but I just can’t seem to stop.
      I have always been faithful to my wife and I have a hard time understanding how she can be so casual about all of this. Help!

      • Healing Mark

        10st. I’m reminded of the saying “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”. For the help that you need, I suggest you find the best therapist (not, I should add, the best marriage counselor, at least not yet) and try to gain an understanding of why you are thinking and feeling what you have described in your post. I’m not suggesting that the thoughts and feelings you have described are “wrong” (they really can’t be as they are what they are, and perhaps a better characterization, if we must, would be that they are atypical), but it seems to me that until you gain an understanding of why you are thinking and feeling the way you are, as well as your reactions to the same and your W’s hurtful, harmful and disrespectful behavior, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to not continue to be a wreck at your work and at home.

        For what it’s worth, most BS’s (myself included) have post-affair discovery made it very clear to their CS’s that the occurrence of another EA or PA will be a deal-breaker for thier relationships. Sure, you would expect a spouse to understand how much damage an affair will cause to a relationship, but mistakes can be made, and if the CS is genuinely remorseful and is able to regain the trust of the BS, not to mention perhaps becoming aware of elements missing in their relationship that may have contributed to the occurrence of the affair, the persons often can get past the affair and establish a new and often better relationship going forward. However, the intentional actions of your W occuring after the initial EA’s display and attitude toward you and your marriage that are, needless to say, … well, you fill in the blank. Sadly, many of us have truly been in love with someone that seemed only too good at hurting us rather than truly loving us (words are rather hollow following what your W has done to you), and otherwise a person that is just not any good for us. Breaking free of this type of person is hard, I know, but in my opinion it must be done to give you the chance to find someone that will truly love you, respect you, and otherwise treat you in ways that will allow you to live a healthy and happy life.

        Life is, in my opinion, too short to put up with a partner that acts in such a disrespectful manner with so many different men. It’s just me, but the day that my W moves in with another man becomes the day that our marriage unofficially ends followed quickly by necessary divorce proceedings. Especially after the two of us have experienced first hand the negative effects of an affair during our marriage. So sorry things are so difficult for you now, but with the assistance of a good therapist and as many support groups as you can find, therre is hope. Good luck.

    • Gizfield

      10st, first off, you are not snooping, you are trying to protect yourself and get the truth about a woman who sounds like a pathological liar to me. I’m not a psychologist, but it sounds like you have hooked up with a sociopath. Its harsh, but I have met enough of them to know. Hell I was “in love” with one for years. I mean a series of affairs is a gigantic red flash, esp. early in your marriage. I appreciate your concern for her but it’s doubtful she has any for you. it might be helpful to think about what it is you “love ” about her. If it’s superficial stuff like appearance or sex, go a little deeper into her character and you may not like what you see. I’m sorry you are going through this.

    • Gizfield

      Oh, there were some typos in there, sorry it’s still early. Make sure to protect your self physically too. Lots of nasty diseases and she could be a carrier. Get tested for std s. You are probably right that this has been going on all along, at least in some form.

    • Gizfield

      I know you probably dont want to do this, based on what youve already found 10st , but I would try to get all the evidence I could about her behavior and make some sort of timeline so you will know exactly what has been going on and how long. The variety of her activities and the seriousness of them is alarming. The majority of people on here are dealing with texts, phone calls, general silliness of that nature, not full on sex, moving out, nude photos, masturbation, etc. This lady has some serious issues. I think your primary goal needs to be self preservation and protection st this point. Everything Healing Mark has said, basically. The only thing that can set you free from this is the truth.

    • Dol

      10st: “The thought of her throwing her life away, bouncing from man to man, trying to find perfection eats at me.”

      This is, I think, quite common and understandable: we find ourselves worrying about how our partners will cope without us. I do that myself, though at the moment I’m forcing myself to be selfish. In your case, you really need to do that too. The basic rule of “look after YOU” is talked about here a lot, but it’s very true.

      In particular, that sense of visualising what terrible things may befall your partner if you’re not around, what sort of things will go wrong for them, how miserable they may be – it’s absolutely vital to try and put those in a box, even while you acknowledge that they’re genuine, understandable feelings. You have to consider that you may well need to start a new life without her – that is one of your options and, like others have said, it sounds to me like one you seriously need to consider. In that case, how she manages simply cannot continue to be one of your concerns. She is not your child, she’s meant to be an adult.

      Sorry, I know that sounds harsh, but you really, really need to concentrate on what you need at this point and do your best to forget about imagined futures you envisage for her. I understand the power of those imaginings and I worry it’s a reason I haven’t left yet too, but we must look to ourselves – without that, we can’t work out if we’re staying for the right reasons.

    • Alone

      10st. I am a cheater, had an EA. I just wanted to say that I am so sorry this has happened to you. You were kind and forgiving after her first affairs — she had her chance. I can imagine this is crushing you, but you deserve a lot better than this. She had her chance, she blew it. I hope you can move on and find happiness. I agree, you need to self-preserve. Best wishes to you at this very dark time.

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