Dealing With Infidelity: My Top 9 Mistakes

dealing with infidelity

The hardest part of my dealing with infidelity is not the emotional affair itself but what happened after I started found out.

The hardest part of my dealing with infidelity is not the emotional affair itself but what happened after I found out. 

I had a difficult time understanding why Doug didn’t just stop cold turkey and had such a hard time getting back those loving feelings for me.

Now knowing the dynamics of affairs, and reading what Doug had to say about the chemical benefits received from infatuation, allowed me to look at his situation differently and I now realize that Doug was addicted to the feelings he was receiving from his affair.

Unlike being addicted to drugs or alcohol where there is a 12-step program, along with medicine available to counteract the withdrawal symptoms, there is no such program available to help pull away from the temptations of an affair.

As much it doesn’t seem fair, I believe Doug could have benefited from the support and guidance of his remarkable wife.  At the time though,  I was not remarkable or supportive.  And as far as offering guidance was concerned, I was functioning on pure emotion with not an ounce of logic.

Looking back, I now realize there are many things that I should have done differently. Things that would have possibly lured Doug away from the addiction, making my recovery less painful.  This advice really only pertains to those of you whose partners may still be on the fence having a hard time pulling away from their affair partner.

If your spouse has confessed, you are positive the affair has ended and they are doing everything in their power to make things right, then this advice may not be that helpful in your dealing with infidelity.

Dealing With Infidelity: My Top 9 Mistakes

Mistake 1: My first mistake actually occurred prior to the affair. I was too naïve in thinking that this sort of thing would never happen to us. I’ve read a ton of books over the years on a variety of subjects, but somewhere along the line I neglected to read about how to have a good, happy marriage.  And it’s not a subject they teach you in school. 

Maybe I didn’t read up on the subject because I was afraid to find out the truth about the shape our marriage was really in.  Maybe I was in denial or I thought that love would conquer all. I wish that someone would have left a copy of Paul Blanchard’s book “Why Men Cheat” on my desk years ago. This book would have opened my eyes to what was happening in our marriage and therefore saved me a lot of pain and suffering. 

Unfortunately that didn’t happen and I bought the book much later after Doug had his affair. Occasionally I still read it as a reminder of what I should be doing to make my husband happy.

Mistake 2: Overreacting when I initially saw Doug’s cell phone usage. Looking back I should have attempted to remain calm, assess the situation, and gather more evidence while working on a logical plan on how to proceed.  Instead, I looked at his phone constantly.  I was dragging Doug out of bed and firing questions at him. I was acting on pure emotion and I really didn’t hear or understand most of what he was saying. 

All I remember is statements like “We are just friends” and “I care for you, you are the mother of my children but I am not in love with you anymore.”

Mistake 3:  Turning myself around on a dime.  That is, acting like the perfect wife and doing everything I thought Doug wanted me to do.  This confirmed to Doug that everything was my fault.  If I believed that I needed to change that much then he was correct in feeling I was a bad wife and that he had been the perfect husband.  It also made him suspicious of my changes and added to his existing resentment

Don’t get me wrong.  I did need to make personal changes and those changes have benefited me, as well as our marriage.  But as far as our relationship is concerned, we should have mutually explored our issues, taking equal responsibility for the problems in our relationship and discussed ways that we could improve our marriage.

Mistake 4:  Believing everything he said was coming straight from his heart.  I read somewhere that when a spouse is involved in a marital affair you should believe nothing you see or hear. When we would have those late night discussions I believed that he had individually explored his feelings and came to conclusions on his own.

Doug is a very intelligent man, but thinking about and expressing his feelings is not one of his best attributes. I wish I would have realized that he was receiving help with all his ideas.  Tanya had been there for the past nine months affirming, discussing and manipulating his thoughts about his unsatisfying marriage. When I heard some of the stupid things that came out of his mouth such as “In love feeling…”  “I deserve this…”  “Kids child are resilient…,” I surely hoped that he truly didn’t believe what he was saying.

Mistake 5: Being uneducated about what I was really up against and that an affair is not all about love. I know now that an affair is based on infatuation which produces the same effects as a powerful drug.  Combine this with the comparisons that occur and the constant affirmation from the affair partner, and it’s hard not to become addicted.

Realizing that comparisons are made between the spouse and affair partner helps the betrayed spouse understand what is really happening during the affair.  It is truly an unfair comparison.  They are comparing someone who is new and different to someone they have known for years.  They are comparing  a relationship that is free from responsibility to one that had stress and was based on real life events.

Additionally, during an affair the cheating spouse is receiving constant affirmation from their affair partner.  They are hearing how great they are and that they are not to blame for the state of their marriage. They have someone who agrees with their thoughts and thinks they are wonderful.

Mistake 6: Being personally drawn into the illusions of the affair. I shutter when I think about everything I told Doug.  I would tell him that she must be the perfect women for him and that he deserves to be with her.  I told him over and over that he should leave me and be with her and that I would take care of our family.  I told him she was his soul mate and I was not a very good wife.  All I was doing was helping to entrench these thoughts in his mind, whether they were real or not.

Mistake 7:  Acting like a woman who was one step away from the funny farm.  I acted clingy, neurotic, jealous, insecure, and distrusting.  Compared to Tanya, I must have appeared like a nut bag, making me the last person Doug wanted to be around. 

In the matter of a few minutes, I would turn from a loving wife, into an angry and violent person, then into someone who would fall on the floor in the fetal position crying uncontrollably. He didn’t know which woman would be showing up and it scared him and royally pissed him off.  No wonder he continued to run back to her.  Her little bouts of jealousy and insecurity were nothing compared to the loony bird he was married to. To Tanya I was the perfect betrayed spouse. Every morning she would wake up and wonder what would  I do to screw up my relationship with Doug and make her look better.  It wasn’t really that hard.  I was a scared, powerless wife who didn’t know any other way to save my marriage. I was dealing with infidelity the only way I knew how.

Mistake 8: Trying to control him and tell him how he should be feeling. Throwing at him my moral convictions, showing him books, bookmarking websites, and telling him he was wrong.  Doug hates to be controlled and this gave him and Tanya an opportunity to discuss their feeling and their relationship. It opened up opportunities to discuss that their love was real and put the focus on them rather than me and Doug.

Now that it is over and I know that everything will be OK, it is easier to say just let them go and trust they will make the right decision.  I do know that you cannot make someone do what they are not ready to do.

Mistake 9: Not being myself.  I tried so hard to be like her, or at least the woman that I thought he wanted me to be. If only I had known that the woman he longed for was the person he fell in love with 30 years ago.  He missed the person I used to be before three children, a full time job, a mortgage and laundry. The person who thought that Doug was the most important person in my life, who laughed at his jokes and wanted to spend time with him.  That person would have been much easier to become.  After all, I know how to be that person.  I too had missed being that person as much as Doug did.

Obviously every situation is different when dealing with infidelity, but if your cheating spouse can’t make up their mind, is still seeing their affair partner or just seems to not want to come back to you fully then you might want to look at your actions to be sure you’re not making some of the same mistakes that I did.

 

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18 Responses to Dealing With Infidelity: My Top 9 Mistakes

  1. Jennifer April 26, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Have I told you lately that I SO admire BOTH of you for this blog? Yeah, I think I have… 😉
    I was also the crazy nut farm lady. And that was long before he even admitted the affair and probably before I really even suspected it. I felt him pulling away, being gone while I was always at home with the kids. ALWAYS with the kids. And I was resentful and jealous of him for going out and having fun and just having time to himself.
    I would wait up for him til 2 am and scream and yell at him while he was drunk. It felt wonderful to get my emotions out and finally feel powerful, but afterwards, I would sit and wonder ‘what was it that he had said to me?’ I couldn’t even remember his side of the conversation. And 2 am yelling at a drunk man is not really even a conversation.
    It has been over a year since things got really bad for us. I just received confirmation of his affair last weekend. And I think I am finally becoming calm enough to put my emotions aside and try to enjoy his company and let him enjoy me as a happy person. What an exercise in restraint it has been for me.

    • admin April 26, 2010 at 10:22 am #

      Thanks Jennifer. You can keep telling us that BTW! 🙂 Hang in there and really thing about what you are doing–or have done. Develop a plan and work it.

  2. ruth April 26, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    You know it funny I have made every mistake you made, its like you looked at me thru a window. Now that I am calm and we are trying to work things out I can see clearly what a nut job I must of been. I keep thinking back and boy I would have done things differently and behave like myself. He might of ended his affair sooner. It was when I finally didnt care anymore that he stopped. How stupid I was then but I led with my emotions instead of my head. I still think about it and it makes me mad at myself for falling to act like an adult. I do know one thing that I learned from this. I won’t belittle myself anymore. I have learned to be stronger from it. Today is a happy day and I just take it one day at a time. Bless you and Doug for this blog. You make me feel like I am nomal!!!!

  3. debbie April 26, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    Thank you! This was the best article I have read! So many things are written for those recovering, but not so much for those of us waiting and wondering how to handle an ongoing affair. I made every mistake also and have pushed my H so far away. My emotions are now under control (as is my mouth!) but it doesn’t help now that I am left alone in the mess he left behind. Wishin’ this article was available a year ago!

  4. Kim April 26, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    Admin,
    OMG I was reading over these 9 mistakes and actually laughing to myself about the nutbag wife comment. This is so me right now I had to laugh for real…I don’t know how to act. I’m acting like I need to do more for him and actually makes me feel like I’m really a guilty person and the bad guy all by myself…I don’t really know how to act. I’m trying to not let things get to me and act all stressed out in front of him, this is one thing that drives him away….so this is comfortable for me at least…but the other actions of feeling like I’m walking on egg shells….like if I say this or act like that would the OW do that I think to myself probably not and try to be good. In the mean time his actions of what drives me crazy are still there…still plays on the computer(does spend less time then he used to) still calls her and texts her. Like I’m the crazy one huh.

  5. Patience April 27, 2010 at 4:28 am #

    Thank you for your posts – they are really helpful…. One question – Linda, for how long did you put up with an ongoing affair? In other words, how long was it between the time you found out about the affair and the time Doug finally broke it off? For me, it’s been a year now… He broke it off with her several times, but he keeps relapsing. And now we are in the middle of yet another relapse… There is just no end in sight…

  6. Duane June 9, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    Thank God for this blog. I, too, am guilty of every one of these. The OM’s wife told me they had gone through an affair once before in their marriage. She kicked him out “for a year if not longer” this time. She told me after his first affair she stayed with him and worked through the pain to heal their marriage. With experience on her side she sent him packing from day one. I so wish I had done that. There was no benefit for my wife to see me falling apart, desperate, crying, clinging, questioning, in the worst depression of my life.

    If I had to do it all over I would have told her to leave. Maybe not for a year, but a week or a month at least.

    I am definitely stronger after this. My naivete is shattered. My self-esteem is growing. I’m demanding more from my wife. She has to earn my love now. It is not so freely given. I feel great about that. I’m worth it.

    Thanks Linda.

  7. Donna July 5, 2010 at 11:00 pm #

    Yep, been there, done that and still need to learn to shut my mouth, but I am getting there.

  8. Liz November 5, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    I too act like the crazy wife. I feel like I have a hormonal inbalance with my moods. It’s been 4 weeks since I found out about my h , EA. He immed. cut off contact with her, so he says. I believe him. Just can’t get past the fact that he desired someone else. It took 3 weeks for him to be himself again. I hate that he had to go through a withdrawel from th EA,(5 weeks) I found a text message on my husbands phone on our 18 wedding annver. When I found out he said he was no in love with me anymore. he said I let myself go. I am 30 pds over weight not fat. I am a very attractive women. Now he says he is in love with me and that he wants to make the marriage work. His EA was phone calls, texts and emails only, she lives2 1/2 hours away from us she was his college girlfriend for 1 1/2 yrs. He sought her out on facebook . I hope I can feel normal again. One minute I love him and feel so needy the next minute I want to hurt him like he hurt me. Why do I feel so needy? Ihate that, I’m not like that at all. He is trying hard to change and be kind towards me. He does not like to talk about his EA, why? I feel like I need to know everything. God help me.

    • Doug November 6, 2010 at 9:28 am #

      Liz, the things you mention are all tough to overcome. If you read anything about “rekindling old romances,” they are very easy relationships to fire back up because there is a sense that the relationship never came to an end. Check out this post: http://www.emotionalaffair.org/emotional-affairs-rekindled-past-flames/

      Also, to answer your question, he doesn’t want to talk about it probably because he feels guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, etc. It is also something he probably just wants to forget. If indeed the affair is over, now is when you need to focus on him and your relationship and not so much about the affair. You don’t want to give the affair anymore “juice.” Here is a post I wrote about asking questions, from my perspective: http://www.emotionalaffair.org/8-communication-don%E2%80%99ts-after-the-affair/

    • Alice November 6, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

      Liz,
      You said that you just can’t get past the fact that he desired someone else. I think it’s important to remember that it really wasn’t the woman he desired, but the role she played. She was a fresh face, a new source of conversation and made him feel good about himself. There is NOTHING special about this woman. She could have been anyone. She simply boosted his ego and it’s that ego boost he desired NOT her.

      And I’m willing to bet that he never really fell out of love with you. He just confused the “giddy” feeling of infatuation with real love.

      It is very difficult, but try to remember that his EA says more about him than it does about you. There is something empty within himself that he was trying to fill with the EA.

      -Alice

      • Linda November 7, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

        Alice, Great comment that kind of thinking takes the fantasy and illusion away from the affair and the OP and allows to see it for what it really was. I am sure that if they began to act in a way that wasn’t so appearing and loving that the desire would quickly fade away. It is easy to make someone feel special and good about themselves when everything is perfect and without conflict and stress. The hard part is living through the stress of the day and still being loving and appreciative of each other. Linda

  9. DrowningInLimbo November 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    Linda and Doug,

    How long did it take for this affair to run its course, as Dr. Huizenga stated in a previous post, after you found out about it? One month, 6 months, 12 months?

    I found out about my wife’s emotional affair, or so she claims they have never met, about one month ago. They have been talking now for 4 months. I have made most of the mistakes mentioned above. Just recently I realized I needed to back off and let her have space to figure this out. Scared to death she is going to walk away from our marriage and 2 kids (7 and 3 yrs. old) … I find it very difficult to just sit back while another man is filling her head with ideas about leaving me!

    Any other contextualizing hints you can provide would be very helpful.

    -Limbo

  10. D November 16, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    Drowning, also a betrayed husband who made every mistake in the book and then some. I didn’t get my wife’s attention until I finally told her go to him, I’ll even drive her over. Once I reached that point where I was more important than the marriage or her, and removed any conflict to her “happiness” soon the choice got very complicated for her.

    State your case, stand your ground, then live your life.

    Life’s too short and partners too plentiful to wait around for someone who’s not even trying.

    And listen, I thought I would fall apart if she left. She didn’t, but in the process (10 months now after her 18 mo. affair) I’ve found that not only will I be fine without her, but she isn’t that I’ve always thought she was (married 20 years, btw).

    There are plenty of women out there, plenty of happiness, plenty of life. Time will heal the wounds. Get out of limbo. She will be wherever it is she wants to be, but there’s no reason to wait for her to live your own life.

    Good luck, buddy.

  11. DrowningInLimbo November 17, 2010 at 12:06 am #

    Thanks D for the advice. It is easy to say when your tactic worked and wife if still around. I am sure you would have been fine, and I am almost to that point. I tried all the logic, the getting angree, the trying to throw her out, but in our state that would’ve meant me paying her to move back in the house with the kids. But none of that matters because I still love her and want things to work out.

    So I am going to try the back off approach and see if that gets me some where. I know I can find someone else, that is not my concern at all, I want the one I’ve spent the last 12+ years with!

    I am just looking any idea of how long it might take for that feeling to wear off.

  12. BreeAnn December 30, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    Thanks Doug and Linda for this blog; please keep it up. My man told me last night that his EP is a “very good friend” because she stepped aside 2 years ago when I first found out about their EA because he asked her. Now he’s saying he knows his boundaries with her and I have to accept her as a friend. We broke up a few months ago, that’s why he reconnected with her. We aren’t married and I’m trying to walk away from him, but it’s very hard because I love him. However, I know he had an emotional affair with her and the pain is still saw raw. But, he doesn’t care how I feel, only how she feels. I will survive; but it’s still hard!! Happy anew Year to everyone – the betrayed and cheaters – at least there’s always hope!!

  13. Becky October 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Oh my GOOOOSSSSSHHHH!!!!! 🙂 Number 7 is ME! I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I read it. I’m so happy I’m not the only nutbag that feels like she’s going insane at times! My “fits” have become fewer and further between, and I (sometimes) am able to pull myself together before a full-on meltdown occurs….thank GOD (and I do). Not sure that this post was meant to be a comedic relief, but thank you anyway! 🙂 Much love to you and this wonderful blog!

  14. Angel Cheek August 16, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    I am stunned with all the thoughts I have in my head right now. I want so badly to delve into commenting and talking with everyone. I just know that right now I probably need to let some of this sink in and come back later. I was a member of this site a couple years ago under another ID, (forgot it when I tried to get back in), and I did everything wrong. I have such a story to share, and so many questions, and so much help that I need. Just, thanks. I hope I can talk soon. I really want to.

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