Here’s a common scenario…

Your spouse had an affair and pretty much put you through hell.  Your family was there to help you pick up the pieces and support you as best they could.

The long and short of it is that the fog lifted, your spouse begged for forgiveness and said he/she would do anything to fix things.  And in fact your spouse has done everything to make amends.  You go to marriage counseling together, there is no contact and your spouse is following the 24 steps to help you heal (from our book)

The problem now is that your family members all seem to have an opinion on what you should be doing or should have done – and it is pissing you off.   You’re getting pressure from them as if you are a fool to have given your spouse a second chance.

Keep in mind that you would NOT be giving your spouse a second chance had he/she not been doing everything you needed. You are more than capable of taking care of yourself and your kids on your own.

Your decision was based on your spouse’s effort and you not wanting to throw years of marriage away or tear apart your family.  Things are getting better for you two every day and you can be proud of the work you both have been doing over the last several months to repair and rebuild your relationship.

Your family all treats your spouse like an outcast and he/she has become the whipping post for snide and sarcastic comments. It now seems your spouse is always wrong or “crossing” the line and your family is very critical of him/her.

See also  Discussion - The Least Productive Thing You Did After Discovery of the Affair

At some point you will probably feel you have witnessed enough of this treatment and will explode.  After all this is YOUR life and YOUR decision and they can either support you or get out of the way.

It is bad enough I have to deal with the whole affair thing. Now you have to deal with family drama too.

So this week’s discussion…

How do you handle the family dynamics and drama after an affair?

Any advice on how to deal with family (and friends) who may not share the same optimistic goals that you have?

If you have lived through a similar scenario, how did you handle your own “well meaning” family and friends?

Please respond to one another in the comment section below.


Linda & Doug

    48 replies to "Discussion – How Do You Handle Your Disapproving Family After Your Spouse Had an Affair?"

    • Gizfield

      I just wish that I actually had some family to be disapproving, lllll! My parents are dead, his father died on February and he never knew, and his mother, who I told, pretty much told me I was mistaken, her baby would not do THAT! My half siblings all know but are out of state , except one. Not close to cousins, so nobody cares. I doubt he has had any negative feedback from ANYONE. Except his crazy wife, of course.

      If I were in this situation, I would tell everyone to “move along, we’re done here.”

    • Strengthrequired

      I didn’t say much to my family, they knew that he had someone else, but that was at the beginning. I made a decision that if we were to stay together, then my family had to not know everything that had gone on, I needed them to be still accepting of my h. I literally pushed my family away, I stopped calling and seeing them as frequently because I was unable to include them in what I was going through because I needed to protect my h from any backlash from family, I didn’t want things to be awkward, especially since my family loved him.
      However, the little they did know was still showing, both my family and my h were bait more distant, but ad time went on the ice began to melt. The tension is still there abit but alot better now. I would hate to think of what it would have been like if they knew everything.
      As for my h family, they knew and my sil was very disappointed in my h an she let him know what she thought, and most were disappointed, it was only his ow family ( mother, father, etc) that were pushing him towards her and away from me.

      • Anita

        My family knew – they told me straight up it was my decision to stay or not and if I could deal with it, fine, but they were done with him. Did not want him in their home ever again. I respected their decision as they respected mine. I cant and shouldnt control their decision anymore than they should mine. It hasnt been easy, but we make it work and my spouse realizes thats the price he has to pay for his indiscretion.

    • livingonafence

      They can either support you or get out of the way? I think they were supportive when I needed them and my CS could have cared less. Now I’m supposed to defend him against them? This is a joke right? I would ask that they respect my wishes and stay civil, but that’s it.
      If you want to remain in your inlaw’s good graces, don’t cheat on their baby. What do the CSs think? That everything magically goes away because they wake up? Actions have consequences, and the consequences of cheating are (in part) being looked at as the POS that hurt their family member for a very long time – possibly forever.

      • Recovering


        what you say is sooo true, and the reason that I didn’t tell my family anything about my husband cheating! If I had left him then I would’ve told, but we are still together, and I just didn’t need the grief!! The only one of his family that knows is his sister, and she was, and still is, TOTALLY supportive of me!! THAT was a bit of a shocker because I know how much she loves her brother and I expected her to side with family… I got lucky with her response! She ripped him a new one, told him she hated him, and was not at all understanding of him! I think her response brought some reality to him!! There are NO other family members that know! I didn’t want the humiliation of everyone knowing what he did (at least in the beginning when he was still blaming ME for his cheating) or the judgment if I had decided to stay – which I did. Now in a way I wish his parents knew what he did, just so they would understand why I pushed them away and didn’t talk to them for 2 years… but in the end I think it will be better that they don’t know. I think they would never get over their son doing something so despicable!! Overall, everyone in my life that knows that my husband cheated has been supportive of me and my decision to stay, and doesn’t judge. I think it is more because I was VERY careful about who I told (more out of humiliation than anything, but hey, it worked for me), and because they are people who really care about ME. Heck, my mom would’ve just called him all sorts of names (the ones I was already calling him) and throw him under the bus every chance she got – totally NOT what I needed… then or now!! Not that my husband wouldn’t deserve the pot shots, but I, ME, didn’t deserve them. So I protected me – not him. He didn’t deserve protecting, but I did, and I still do!

        • Jill

          That is the saddest part of affairs. Seems everyone else hurts so much more than the cheater!! I ONLY stayed because he was so sorry- it was a mistake brought on from drinking, and he didnt intend it! But if anyone had known, I would have left him, I would never protect him against my family who just hurt about him hurting me.

      • No

        Absolutely. No. We will never forgive you for cheating on our loved one, and no. We don’t love you anymore. We tolerate you because our loved one is stupid enough to stay with you. We will always support them leaving you and finding someone decent, as long as we live. Deal with your actions loser.

    • neil

      Amen livingonafence

    • exercisegrace

      Even though my husband was willing to tell both families what he had done, I decided that we wouldn’t. It was equal parts selfishness/shame on my part, because I didn’t want to be judged as “lacking”. Totally wrong, but that’s where my brain went. Another part was to protect our children as much as possible, and protect interfamily relationships. My mother is dead and my father is elderly and in iffy health. He has said many times how relieved he is that I have a good marriage and happy family and he doesn’t worry about leaving me someday. I will be rolled in crap before I take away his peace of mind and let the choices of two selfish people put his health in jeopardy. As for my husband’s family, they would likely wonder what I did wrong to “make” hims stray. That would be the end of my already tenuous relationship with them. And in the end, it would be my four children who would suffer the most from these relationships being damaged. Does my husband deserve everyone’s censure? Sure, absolutely. I would be well within my rights to insist he “come clean”. But really, when I made the decision to forgive him, to move forward, to rebuild our marriage, I felt that I needed to do that OUT of the familial spotlight. No judgement on those who have chosen otherwise. I have to close friends who have given me phenomenal support and FAR more than both families combined would ever have given me.

    • Disappointed

      I Know for a fact my CS’s family knows. overheard my H talking with sister. They support his affair with a married mom of two. They are as despicable as he is.

      • Recovering


        I am so sorry for you that you have to deal with that!! His family clearly has something wrong with it! Cheating is NEVER okay! NEVER!! My heart goes out to you! I hope you have a good support system of your own to help you!! Your husband’s family is so WRONG!! Just WRONG!!

    • one step at a time

      No one in our family knows. Sometimes it is really hard for me and hits my trigger points when my son who use to work for the OM brings up his name and talks favorably about him. Thankfully our daughters don’t mention him at all. My youngest can’t stand him, I believe that she know something and I’m sure she has figured out that they had an EA but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know about the PA that lasted 6 yrs. I do wonder sometimes if we should tell them? It always feels really strange and like the elephant in the room when his name comes up at family get togethers.
      Either my son or son-in-law will mention his name and I feel like a knife is shoved in my heart. I kind of wish they knew so they wouldn’t even bring him up. I feel like it is still a dirty little secret. To tell or not to tell?

      • Recovering

        one step at a time,

        You don’t have to tell, and certainly shouldn’t if you are uncomfortable with everyone knowing!! You need to protect you and your immediate family first and foremost!! You certainly CAN, however, mention the next time you hear his name that you have heard learned some pretty non-flattering things about this man, so feel that he is no longer worthy of discussion! You don’t have to sit and take it! Though I totally understand where you are coming from! I recently had a friend of mine make the comment to me “well if he hasn’t strayed yet then he isn’t going to” when I was telling her about not wanting my husband to take a new job that would’ve required a lot of travel time but would’ve been a nice jump in income… She doesn’t know that he cheated. She thinks he never would. Heck, I thought he never would, and here I am.. a betrayed spouse!!! I don’t want everyone knowing, so know I don’t want to tell, but I also don’t need THAT dagger in my heart because they don’t know… guess it comes with the new territory…

        • Strengthrequired

          Recovering, that dagger in the heart every time you talk to someone who doesn’t know, is exactly why I stopped seeing people. Although I don’t know many people where I live now, I think I’m just not ready to meet anyone new in fear of that conversation will come up, also who knows I might meet a new friend and become good friends, then they find this out, next thing they think he is an easy target, if he has done it once then maybe he will do it again “with them”. So protecting my heart comes first.
          I often wonder how many of my h friends know of ea, I feel so humiliated just thinking about it.

    • chiffchaff

      This has become all too relevant an article for me this past week.
      My sister’s family were very supportive of me on discovery and thereafter. I wouldn’t have survived without them.
      However, they have pretty much maintained their hatred of my H even though they have tried to at least see him and invite him to things in the past year. They still won’t talk to him at these gatherings though, which makes them uncomfortable events.
      However, since last April my sister’s contact with me has become very cold and sporadic, to the point that my texts and emails and calls have gone unanswered for the past few months. They never visit me or us anymore yet used to do so many times a year.
      In this last week things have got very bad and my niece and sister have taken to attacking me on facebook. It isn’t aimed at my H but at me and I have no idea what I’ve done to deserve this. I’m starting to feel like they’re attacking me because they have no real reason to actually go for my H these days. it’s all very upsetting and I’m starting to wonder if asking for their help was a massive mistake.

      • Doug

        I don’t understand why they would be attacking you for something your husband did. What sort of things were they saying on FB, if you don’t mind me asking?

        • chiffchaff

          I posted a funny photo of a silly shop name we saw on holiday that I thought my niece would also find funny but she then decided that I was calling her stupid, which was unreasonable and unrelated to the image, my sister waded in saying that I had no idea how upset I’d made my niece in calling her stupid (which I hadn’t) and that I obviously had no thought for the consequences of posting an image that made a cheap joke at some else’s expense. which is also something I have never done, ever. I apologised for the obvious offense I’d caused and removed the image but that didn’t stop the vitriol that ensued. my niece is now tweeting about how no-one is going to wipe the smile off her face this week and other such twaddle. My niece is 18 so I can forgive her going overboard, you do when you’re 18, but my sister overreacting too was too much. At no point did anyone suggest that I wasn’t the type of person to call someone stupid and that perhaps she was overreacting, which is the bit that’s hurting. My sis and family have called my niece thick and stupid throughout her life and I have always done my best to tell her not to put herself down when she’s called herself stupid or blond, as others will always be there to do that for you, but that seems to count for nothing.

          • Doug

            Well, it certainly sounds like some sort of misunderstanding that needs to be discussed and settled in person rather than on stupid Facebook or Twitter. As EG said, basically your sister thinks that your options should be obvious, but we all know it’s not quite so black and white when you are the one that is actually dealing with it (infidelity).

      • Strengthrequired

        I have been thinking about your post and was thinking about my family.
        I was so depressed I turned away from my family. I couldn’t involve them in everything, I would see my sister and mother every week, talk to them daily, until my h ea.
        I couldn’t lean on my family, I couldn’t bin myself to involve them, they loved my h, yet also because I couldn’t handle seeing anyone, couldn’t handle anymore negativity in my life, couldn’t handle the judgement, or any advice I knew I wouldn’t take. I couldn’t let them know how badly depressed I was, I couldn’t let them see me cry everyday, I couldn’t let them see me fading away with grief.
        They knew he had someone else, they knew we separated and some other things, but everything else was kept to myself.
        I couldn’t let them know everything because I knew they would never forgive my h, it has taken a while for them to feel better towards him.
        My sister and I were very close, now because I pulled away, we barely talk. I do miss her, but I know my sister would never understand my situation, how I was feeling, nothing.
        My mother would often tell me whenever we did speak, how they are hurt I shut them out, how my sister is hurt. They will never understand how I felt, what I was going through, how I couldn’t be happy around them, all I could concentrate on was saving my marriage, my family.
        My friend was hurt because I didn’t confide in her with alot of wha was going on, how I chose someone who didn’t know my h the way everyone else knew him, someone that was not judgmental, towards my h or my choice to stay with my h.
        I couldn’t be the person my friend wanted me to be, I couldn’t be happy around her either. I wanted to avoid all conversations revolving around my h.
        My friend couldn’t understan why I stayed with my h.
        Although I lost the close relationship I had with my sister, etc, I wouldn’t change how I handled the situation at the ti e, when youbare in a depression, it’s hard to involve those closest to you.

      • Jill

        Are you sure they dont know something new he has done but dont know how to process it? After my SIL’s affair, i learned there was so much more that my daughter didnt know. I already was aware that she wanted to make her marriage work and that she would choose him over us, (sad isnt it) , so it has been almost impossible for us to be friendly, yet we have to tolerate him. So sad what cheating does to everyone!! No wonder God so hated it!!

    • Gizfield

      I dont see how your sister attacking you should be related to your husband cheating. Thats just generalized screw ed up behavior in my opinion.

      • Recovering

        Makes me wonder if the sister’s husband has been cheating and now has been found out… some people follow the idea that cheating is ‘contagious’… just a theory…

        • chiffchaff

          My B-i-L works with a new office assistant who seems to be a very flirty young lady and he started off being very anti-her but these days the sun seems to shine out of her *rse. I know that many people do think that my H ‘got away with it’ and are worried that it will give the idea to their Hs that it’s ok to do it as it all works out for the best anyway. which is complete BS as they have no idea of the pain and the work involved at all.

    • Strengthrequired

      Sorry chiff but I dont understand either. Are they upset that you stayed with your h? If so then they need to stand by you and your decision that was made to keep your family together. The deicision ti stay with your h, was a decision that wasmyoursmto makemand yours only. They should understand and support you.
      I’m sorry chiff, you are having to handle this from your family, it’s not right.
      I do hope all turns out ok for you chiff, you have done so well keeping your family together, your family should see a strong wonderful caring human being, one that caught for her family and one that deserves ti be happy.

      • chiffchaff

        they are disappointed that I allowed my H to return and consider that all the effort that they put in to helping me cope was wasted as I allowed him back. they consider me weak and my sister has said that I’m a bad example to my niece and nephew (which is rich seeing as their other aunty has been three times married and each time left for the affair partner).

    • exercisegrace

      Remember before we were all cheated on? remember how certain we were that we would never allow that to happen, and if it did there would be swift, devastating consequences? Remember you predominant and self-assured answer as to what you would do, go stay? Kick his cheating ass to the curb? No? Ok. Maybe it’s only me. But before this mess, I would have told you were would have divorced immediately. And most would validate my decision. 1 1/5 affair at least half of it physical and happening in my home. BUT. I stayed. And I chose to stay for a variety of reasons that you all know and have picked for you own life.

      My point. We all “get” each other. WE understand the choices that must be made and what those cost each of us individually. And yes, there is always a huge cost whichever way we end up going.

      People on the outside looking in think it is so easy. The answer is so clear. We are stupid or weak or optionless to stay. And none of want to seem pathetic. NO, it’s not the only reason we stay but it plays it part. Families divide over this, and yet often they are a large part of the reason we choose the difficult path to rebuilding.

    • Strengthrequired

      That is definately something your not chiff, you are not weak. You are strong. You deserve to be happy, you deserve to have your family be together, you children deserve to have their parents together, I’m sorry but your sister has her priorities wrong, she should be happy to see you happy, and wanting to forgive the man you love. She should use you as an example of what to be, a good person,loves her family and who will protect it too.
      Her children should definately look up to you.
      A family helps a family member to get through a difficult time in their life, a family is supposed to support that person no matter what decision they choose. It is not a decision for them to make, it is not their decision they need to live with, it is the one in need if supports decision, and it shouldmbe respected. I’m sorry but your sister is wrong.

    • Gizfield

      I have some high level drama queens in my family, I think it’s not related to your husband at all. She should be happy for you, if anything, not acting crazy…

    • StillHealing

      I didn’t tell anyone after my wife’s affair but 2 years later when she started a new one, I kicked her out. I had to tell everyone at that point. It would have been better that they not know, because now that we’re back together it’s made the healing slow going.

    • WoundedHeart

      I have only told my aunt and uncle who I had already known been through a marriage crisis early in their marriage and survived. This was 20+ years ago. Unfortunately, her family figured it out. Surprisingly, her brother and father are supporting me. Her mother is supporting her, though I recently found out she did the same thing so no wonder. Not sure on her sister and I know her brother told her. I didn’t want the family to know as I am still hoping our marriage can survive. She is still seeing the AP and know if I make an ultimatum, she would go with him in a heartbeat.

      The OM family and the OM wife’s family knows and they are not happy. We are Catholic and the OM is Jewish. Both families have children. So this is a plain mess.

      There are signs that the affair is coming apart, so both the BS’s are waiting for the affair to die a natural death. I am only about 3 months since DDay. So I know there is a long road ahead.

    • Strengthrequired

      My h disgusting ow has added my son as a favorite on her Facebook. I feel sick. I feel physically ill. What is she trying to do keep her foot in the door to my family.

    • Carol

      I told my mother and sisters right away. My mother was very supportive and read my H the riot act. She also responded to him with love, saying that she hoped we would work it out and that he would come to his senses and do what he should have been doing all along: loving his family. He actually appreciated that, and they get along fine now.

      Recently, though, we had the vacation from hell. Last week we went to the beach with my mother and stepfather, my two sisters, my one BIL, niece, and nephew. One of my sisters was twice-divorced by the age of 33. She has always had a difficult temper and is immature (little things cause her to explode, she seldom thinks anything is her fault, etc.). Well, on the second day of this vacation my mom, sisters, and I were planning to take a short drive up the coast to the next town — about a 10-minute drive. My sister got mad, I think because she wanted to drive her own car and not ride with the rest of us in my mom’s van as my mom had hoped we would do (the cause of the anger was not entirely clear to me). She stomped off to the house in a fit of fury. My mom persuaded her to come back, and then she wanted my daughter to ride with her. I said no, I’d prefer my 7-year-old daughter ride with me (because my sis was still mad as a hornet — though I didn’t say that). She then assaulted me — literally — in front of my daughter. She hit my face and tried to grab my throat. I ducked. She then screamed that she hated me and threw my H’s infidelity in my face (‘you and your marriage suck’) — in front of the family, though thank god that by that point my other sister had whisked my daughter into the house, so I don’t think my daughter heard that last part. She did see the assault, and was freaked out about it. (My sister also assaulted her second husband at least once — a key reason he walked out.)

      How do you forgive a family member for using something she knows was devastatingly painful — I (mistakenly) leaned on her in the early weeks after D-day — to strike back at you when she’s frustrated over something minor? I am still reeling from the shock. I didn’t think she was capable of such deliberate cruelty, but I guess I’m wrong. I certainly won’t make the mistake of trusting her again.

      My H’s reaction was interesting, to say the least. She drove off after the assault and returned about an hour later. He told her she couldn’t come back in the house until she apologized to me. He then listened to her complain for twenty minutes that she feels isolated and that she has no relationship with her family. He said nothing to her about the pain that the reference to his infidelity caused. He was pretty sympathetic to her, in other words, for some reason. My sis is a lot like the OW: beautiful, charming, rich, emotional, self-centered. So his sympathy for her hurt. I tried to explain this to him, but he didn’t get it. And then my mom told him he was being manipulated, that I hadn’t done anything to provoke my sister, and that he owed his sympathy to me, not her.

      Did I mention that my mom is terrific? 🙂

      Ack. More fodder for the marriage counselor, I suppose.

    • Molly

      I have never gotten along with my MIL and feel I have paid the price for all 3 decades of my marriage for the abuse she heaped on my husband when he was a boy and child. But he could never “hurt or confront her” so he hurt me instead through having an affair and other less-than-kind and respectful behaviors. As soon as D-Day hit last summer of 2016 – despite not being able to breathe or function or stop crying for weeks out of so much sadness and shock – I knew this was my golden opportunity to cut this woman (and her clone daughter my SIL) out of my life forever. She has done nothing but make married life – my life w/my husband and kids miserable for years. I feel this is fate or God’s way of giving me a free pass out of this relationship w/a cold, uncaring and always “her kids are right” MIL. I told my husband it was too humiliating and hard to be around his parents knowing they knew he had cheated on me-they forgave him almost instantly btw because he is their “golden child”. So except for one major party in the family – I have not seen them in 9 months. And except for our daughter’s upcoming wedding – I won’t. I have no beef w/his dad but he’s so elderly and sweet (if too passive) that there’s no point in having any beef with him. I write to my FIL and send him cards but I truly can’t imagine just sitting around and schmoozing with my husband’s family with the giant elephant in the room… his affair and that they most likely blame me for it – that he was “forced” into given how “difficult” I am to deal with.. His sister is a whole other story – my SIL not only supports my husband post his affair (during which time one of our young adult children had cancer – still does – and we have disabled teen son! Yes I am NOT making this up!!)…. she even attacked me – saying he couldn’t be blamed for cheating on “someone like me”. What a piece of crap she is. So why sit around and have family gatherings with people like this? I’ve known they’ve looked down their noses at me for decades and his affair brought not only his crappy, entitled priveleged behavior to light -but his family of origin as well. I knew it was there all along – I just didn’t want to face it or others told me it was about me not them. Ugh! Well I guess they see differently now. So I say the betrayed spouse gets to call the shots and set new boundaries to reestablish their own dignity around their contact with any and all inlaws post an affair coming to light. There are consequences to affairs that ripple through entire families. I know members of my extended family won’t ever look at my husband the same and some would like to pop him in the face for the way he hurt me. So be it. BTW, my immediate family continues to be caring and concerned about both me and my husband because I don’t come from cold, nasty, us-only family like he does. Just saying… the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Peace.

    • Susan

      I’m in a bit of a unique situation. The affair that occurred in my family seemed to be contagious. My partner cheated on me with my sister in law (my brother’s wife while he was in jail). My sister cheated on my brother in law, and my father cheated on my mother. This all occurred in the same 3 month period last year. I only have one family member who is affair-free right now and we aren’t very close to begin with so it doesn’t feel strange that we have continued to not speak often. I am unable to be around my sister-in-law. She didn’t just offend me but also my brother as she was cheating with several other men while he was away. He wants to get divorced but my mother, a strong voice in our family, is threatening to disown him if he follows through. I have decided to work on my relationship with my partner. I am empathizing with him the most as that is my family (we have 4 children). My father was just outed for continuing his affair that occurred last year. My mother is also deciding to work on it with him. I feel that I’m in a very strange space with my brother in law and mother. My brother was an avid cheater on my sister in law, as well as having been in jail, so he isn’t really on the “innocent” side of this. But because we are all facing this complex arena of “trying to stay together” we are all forced to accept both our partners and the offending family members outside our nuclear family. I am devastated that no matter who I talk to I will be reliving the affair. It is making it very difficult to move on. A part of me wants to create a new family with someone else simply so I can have that feeling of ‘family’ back. Or to move somewhere far away so I am not constantly reminded of the pain.

      • Molly Magee

        This sounds like a toxic nightmare of incestuous and momentous proportions. The intertwining of relationships and inappropriate connections sounds like a dark novel written about the south. Please get out and get some professional helps asap. You have my sympathy and prayers. It seems the concept of loyalty and fidelity is not something anyone in this mix understands or abides by. And that’s not even hitting on how many potential STDs could be passed around in your one family. Good luck and especially good luck to the innocent children – siblings, cousins, etc. who have no choice but to watch the adults implode their life around them. How could moving on and releasing yourself from this horror show be any worse than what you are living through. I don’t think it possibly could but that’s just one woman’s opinion.

      • Shifting Impressions

        I agree with Molly Magee, get professional help. All of this is mind boggling!!
        Your comment about your mother’s “strong voice” is also somewhat of a “red flag”. You need objective advice…not the voice of control.

        This is an awful lot for one person to deal with….I hope you get help.

    • kristen

      I told all his and his wife’s family members, colleagues and everyone around about our affair. His brother and sister were very friendly with me in the beginning but the equation has changed. He has decided to work on his marriage and I have decided to work on mine. His wife is keeping an eye on his movement and whom he sees. Everyone is counting the days for how long his marriage is going to last since he is a very free spirited man.

    • Amyyy

      I came here hoping to find more than one side of the story. It turns out the internet is not a place for the wrong-doers, just the wronged.

      I had the affair. These things don’t often come from nothing. We recognise it was a symptom of a sick and broken relationship but all the love is still there (for both of us, believe it or not) and we are working it out. I am afraid one of the deal breakers will be certain members of his family accepting me back into the fold as when we were in the raw beginning of dealing with this, he felt for him the best thing would be to tell everyone he thought he needed support from.

      So, I have a lot of bridges to mend, making our healing that much harder. I was hoping to find some experience here from people in my position either directly or indirectly. Basically, the internet has given me two versions of what’s going to happen. I’m pretty much f***ed and no one will ever like me again because I’m now defined as horrible because of one horrible thing I did. The second version is that I’ll be forced back in by obligation and still be defined as a wholly horrible person by the one horrible thing I did.

      I just want to do the best I can for us and give him what he needs while healing myself properly in the process so not only does this not happen again but this is never even anything that needs consideration again.

      • Doug

        Hi Amyyy, thanks for your comment. You probably do have a long road ahead of you mending those bridges. But the bridge to your husband is the one that needs mending first and foremost. I think with time and his family witnessing the healing and rebuilding of your relationship with your husband, they will start to come around and their hearts will soften towards you. It may also take some tough conversations along the way as well. Hang in there.

      • ForeverMudd

        I had the same experience Amyyy. People think an affair is all one sided. All the one party’s fault. To say otherwise is to be further vilified as someone who won’t take responsibility for their actions – even if you have/do. For me, I am the bad guy. I cheated on my husband. Not out of maliciousness, but loneliness. (It is a very long story, made worse because the a$$hole I cheated with blackmailed and abused me phisically and verbally and I could not get out of the relationship with any sort of personal safety or with any part of my life intact pretty much from the start…) Anyway, I never stopped loving my husband. I just wasn’t getting what I needed for such a long time – 6+ years of neglect. Once my husband discovered the affair, he decided to stay together, but felt he needed support. He told his brothers, our mutual friends and our adult daughter, dispite me begging him not to. What he thought would make him heal, destroyed other relationships. His family and our daughter disowned me. Meaning that he now has to divide his life between us and he sure as shit resents me for it. Additionally, his brothers were pissed at him for staying with me. They felt/feel entitled to an opinion on our relationship and how we should conduct it.
        This has been very hard for me. Not only have I gone through the despair of being neglected by the love of my life but also abuse, subsequent PTSD, a loss of my friends and in laws, my only kid hates me and won’t speak to me and every time my husband visits with any of the numerous people that have ostracized me, it strains our relationship and I have to see his pain all over again. All because I wanted companionship and to feel like a person. I’m public enemy number one. All of the good things I have done in my life don’t matter. All the charity events I have led, the people and animals that I have helped. The low income children I help every day – nothing matters because of one mistake. I’m the bad guy for life. And everyone on the fucking internet feels the need and right to judge and attack. Yours is the only post I have seen that even acknowledges this. No one gives a shit that there are two sides to every story. If you cheat, you are the devil and nothing about you matters. Your life has no value.
        To ‘those people’ I say fuck you. Walk a mile in my shoes.
        Keep your head up Amyyy.

        • Jam

          In response to ForeverMudd : It’s rare to see such display of narcissism, but i am no stranger, given that I’m the daughter in the equation. I’m writing this comment to hopefully shed some light that could help in your healing. I don’t deny that the one who had the affair also needs healing, but your demonstration of it shows a lack of certain self-awareness. I don’t know where you are on your journey now, but I hope it’s better than what your response has mentioned.

          Self-pity is the obstacle you are clearly still struggling with in your healing process, and there is no denying that this is displayed in your comment. To say that you never stopped loving your husband is an outrageous statement that begs the question — how do you even define love? Would you say that making the choice to cross that line in the first place was loving your husband?

          It is true that both parties may have caused hurt and neglect that led up to the affair, but the person who chose to have it (rather than say, divorce them or leave them.) is certainly the one who has to bear the responsibility of it. Be it maliciousness, loneliness, or what not, this still stands.

          Your decision has caused him tremendous amounts of pain and betrayal, that may even take a life time to get over (or even more than that). How about walking a mile in his shoes? In his time of need, he needed support, but the response from his family simply showed how his life would never be the same again. To say that you “have to see his pain again” or “all because you wanted companionship and to feel like a person” shows simply a focus on your feelings rather than his. It doesn’t really show a sense of remorse at all.

          Of course there are two sides to every story, but have the people around you seen you acknowledge his side? Would it not be difficult to feel sympathy for your betrayer or someone who has hurt you? Especially if they show a lack of self-awareness of the level of hurt they have caused others.

          Sure, there are now many bridges to mend. But if you are the changed person who takes responsibility, as you have said you are, then this is simply the road you have to accept and take. Respect and trust now have to be earned. And it’s simply a result of taking it for granted the first time. I don’t believe it’s impossible to earn back, but if you dwell in self-pity, perhaps it’ll make it that much harder.

          Still, well wishes for you and your family…

        • Jill

          So because you were “hurting” gives you the right to neglect your marriage, your husband, family just so you can “feel” temporarily better? How selfish. I can tell you from experience, your “hurting” is nothing compared to being cheated on. I honestly cant understand how ANYONE can still do this. I think having an affair should be treated as a crime!!!! Id rather someone steal my purse than my husband!!! It is obvious how painful it is and yet selfish people keep doing it cause they are just that- selfish!! And your response to people who see what you did as despicable, shows your selfishness also.

    • Mollymagee

      Amy, wow.. thanks for your honesty and your blessed to have a spouse – especially a husband – who is willing to work this through. An affair is such an attack on a person’s womanhood for a woman or manhood for men; I believe a man being cuckold by his wife and another man is about the worst thing ever, for a husband, short of losing a child. But I write as a wife and mom and I hope you can hear this and see it through. Fasten your seat belt…it’s gonna be a bumpy reply here. Basically, in response to your in law’s cold shoulder approach to you post the infidelity, your cheating…. too bad. Your relationship w/your in-laws and his extended family didn’t end when the affair was revealed and he started to, rightly from his need perspective, lean on his biological family. It ended, the way you knew it to be and relied on – for better and worse, when you decided to fuck with or emotionally connect with or both, with another person other than your spouse… their son, brother, cousin, etc. In other words, dear Amy, it’s time to face facts you did this – ended the connections and yes…… blood IS thicker than water and you messed with their blood! You don’t say if you are a mom yet but imagine how hard it is or will be to see your tiny child hurt by a playground slight or bully or a mean teacher or inconsiderate neighbor during play… now multiply that by 100,000, 000 or more… and you have an idea how much you not only hurt him but his family of origin, by default. And I hate to say it… but I think women who cheat, because that’s not expected as much as with men nor condoned culturally as it is with men, (“poor him” … his wife was putting out, “boys will be boys” etc… sexist crap that men get away with) you are getting a double or triple whammy treatment of rejection from them. You get my drift, right? But bottom line anyone who cheats and breaks those marriages vows has that on them no matter what the state of the marriage. You, and you alone, made that decision and the consequences of that decision rest on you, not him and not on them either. This is way, way beyond repairing bridges. This is like that scene at the end of “Saving Private Ryan” (watch it!!!) when every tank, gun, soldier is used to save one man’s life but in the meantime an entire town, is decimated and blown to bits. Or like the fires in CA that are raging right now up and down the state… put one out and another ignites right after it. You have, in a word, a shit ton of work to do ahead of you. And it might not work. Getting your husband’s forgiveness and working on the marriage might just have to be enough for you (and him) … for now. I would not have any expectations that they will all come around now or ever. Maybe focus on one or two best allies within his family but keep in mind… expectations are planned disappointments and sometimes planned resentments too. Choose your battles, focus on the marriage repair and move slowly… they have been hurt too by you by way of hurting and betraying him. This is something that can take years and years to work through. And it might still not work. Now my story is from the other side….. three years ago or so, I discovered that my husband was carrying on an almost 2 year emotional and physical affair with a woman long distance and in person. She traveled to our city to fuck with him and yes… believe it or not… the affair started before and continued during our young adult daughter’s journey fighting cancer (yes!!! Nice, huh?? And she knew this!!! And still didn’t back away!!! ) and our young teen son struggling in school with his autism diagnosis (ditto). Nice lady, huh? Loyal husband, huh? NO!!! I was focused around our two high need kids but I thought our marriage was weathering these storms so well. Dumb me. Was our marriage perfect? Hell, no. Is any…NO! But I was feeling closer to my husband than I had in years…. but our sex life had dropped off too from the stress, menopause issues and my own history of sexual assault. So he was seeking attention and affirmations elsewhere on line with multiple women and one “special lady” from TX. She, turned out, to be a serial cheater and grifter and was VERY interested in his career, linked in account and more… guess why???? … she was interested in our $$$ due to her debt and shifty financial issues in her marriage… yes she was married to husband #2. But that stupid, cruel, life changing decision to cheat is on my husband who never thought to wonder why a woman from TX would be interested in a 60 year old man from New England. (Oh, and her husband… yes, she was married to a cheater too…. they both cheated on her first husband together… looks just like my husband but younger… hmmmm….. identity theft anyone??) When I discovered the affair by accident (I had ZERO reason to suspect anything as I never thought my husband had this in him… another “dumb me” moment) by seeing a text come across his phone that HE lent to me because I wanted to take a pic of him…. “cause he looked so handsome” as we started a vk together. Hear this Amy: I felt as if a herd of cattle had kicked me in the stomach and then raced over me and then dragged me through mud and down a mountain side. . Amy… you’ve got to get this…. you betrayed… BETRAYED your spouse in the worst way possible. I have crawled, dragged, wept, screamed and crawled, therapy’d and more my way back to life post this discovery three years ago. It devastated me in a way that NOTHING… not even my own beloved brother dying of AIDS in the 1980s did. And that nearly killed me… my grief from that loss. But death is clean and we ALL have to face it …our own someday and others we love. Even if someone dies of awful disease, you still know death is a natural part of life. An affair is like a death from murder. You killed the marriage you created with their son/brother/grandson as they knew it. You may be building something new between you two but they are grieving what the knew of you and that OLD marriage you decided to destroy thru an affair. Let them grieve. Does grief sometimes take angry, bitter, raging forms…yes. Sorry – you did an immature, cowardly thing going outside your marriage to fix a problem(s) in it, but it’s time to woman-up and grow up and face the ripple and emotional tsumani effects of your decisions and actions. And here’s the kicker for me.. and proof that blood is thicker – sometimes – than water. His family was awful to me, the loyal spouse, after his affair came out and so, so cruel. His sister attacked me verbally and condoned the affair since “he didn’t really have any other choice” and his mother (who has always been a thorn in my side, along with the sister) attacked me verbally and physically. Did they comfort me and ask if I needed help…NO!!! But guess what… rejections is, I believe, God’s protections and his family has never, in 31 years together, been particularly warm or welcoming to me. So bad on me for having the expectation that they would be different people when his affair came out. They were NOT. But the gift from God is I was able to completely cut ties with them!!!! Finally … after decades of looking for their approval… .I saw I would never get it… ever and I’m “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I’m free of last” of their cruelty, meanness and tribe mentality. Meanwhile, my mom and brothers were completely forgiving of my spouse despite his infidelity, which baffles me to this day. But so be it….. what I’ve learned is that people can’t stand anyone’s drama but their own, for the most part and you brought some serious drama into their lives. I’d hedge my bets you might also be dealing with a family – inlaws – with some of their own painful history – maybe infidelity, maybe alcoholism in the past or other trauma…. which makes forgiveness and moving on even more painstaking and difficult. Affairs can cause serious PTSD…in people. It sure did to me. So where I am today? I respect my FIL and MIL as my children’s grands but spend very little time with them. I’ve learned to have fair, non-mean and full boundaries around them and their cruel daughter which I have told my …yes, still for now, husband must be respected. His sister cannot not be in our home if I am here and she hasn’t been in 3 years. I respect her as my children’s aunt but that is all. I have zero expectations to have a relationship with them as daughter-in-law or sister-in-law and feel at peace with that in a way that is indescribable. That is water under the bridge. I have joined Al Anon as I learned that my co-dependent relationship with my husband (and his family) is a direct result of being an ACOA… adult child of an alcoholic. My goals in life are my own serenity and lack of drama and upset. My husband and I have had many connections and divisions as a result of his affair. Our future is uncertain but we are both here until our second child is out of HS. (And yes, both kids know. My oldest child saw a text from her dad to his AP just weeks after her cancer diagnosis when he … yup… lent her his phone! NOT making this up. And my son on spectrum was telling me for weeks… “Mom… daddy is on his phone too much… daddy loves his phone more than us….!!!) Talk about from the mouth of babes… he intuitively could see something I could not! Good luck Amy and for what it’s worth – hope you and your hubbie can make it but keep your expectations realistic and stay on your side of the street. … you can’t fix everyone and all… work on fixing you and why you did this. You blew up your marriage and a few families doing this… this isn’t a quick fix by any means. Peace. MM (pardon typos)

      • Ruth

        Our SIL cheated on our daughter. She intended to leave- she was telling everyone of his affair- I actually encouraged her to not do be telling everyone yet. She started divorce proceedings, Her MIL supported her leaving on the surface, but was manipulating to get her back with her son, which she finally succeeded at. After about a year, we were forced to accept the cheating, lying SIL back into our lives. We hated having him around, but we did so in order to have our daughter and grandkids in our lives. He is a lazy slob and it hurts tremendously to know our daughter has so little self esteem that she stayed and not only that, but our grandkids were very small and would have been better off if she had left him and found a better husband and father. But anyway, we had sucked it up and were being supportive of her choice and cordial, even though he was still so arrogant. Then came a time when she and 1grandchild were not coming to a family event at our home because they had another event to attend, but she said he would come with the other grandchild. We said if she and the 1 werent going to make it, we’d prefer the SIL didnt come either. The grandchild of course would be welcome, but we didnt need the SIL here if she wasnt going to be here. OMG- she threw a fit right in front of the kids, said she hated us and she was done with us and she stormed out!! We dont see how she can treat us so badly because we set one boundry after we make sacrifices by putting up with him, she cares nothing about how hard that is for us, yet supports the cheating husband! This is so painful.

    • Libs

      My mother could have written Ruth’s response. I have to say, I was horrible to my parents. I drug them into my H’s indiscretion, then treated them like the enemy when they (rightfully) hated him. (I sadly have to admit that being angry with them in some sick way made it easier to forgive my H.). I cut my parents out of our lives – (which included the lives of my children) I couldn’t rebuild my marriage and deal with their hatred towards him too. My MIL on the other hand was there supporting us constantly.
      Skip ahead 11 years- I caught my husband in yet another affair! I was devastated! My MIL worked hard trying to get me to stay again. I was totally alone now, other than a few friends, she was my only support. I tried, but I couldn’t stay again. I left. My MIL actually wasn’t so supportive now. I went to my parents and they welcomed me and forgave me. I havent been able to forgive myself though for the way I treated them. My children were glad to see their grandparents again. I learned my MIL KNEW my H had cheated both times before I did, and she never warned me. Actually I learned a lot that I wish I would have had open eyes to before. I had to take a deep dive to understand why I stayed. It took a year and $$ in therapy, but I finally figured it was the fear of being alone and a very pushy MIL that made me stay because I realized I didn’t really love him.
      Long story short, Im happier now than ever and so glad I got a fresh start!! Saddest thing is my father died two years after we reconciled and I deeply regret the years I missed out on with him. I wish I would have lived the old saying “blood is thicker than water” and not put my H before my parents.

    • Libby

      Ruth- My parents could have written your response. I too disowned my parents when they couldnt forget what my H had done. I was so frustrated and lost and in trying to hold my marriage together, it was easier to be angry with my parents than my H. To this day, that is my biggest regret. I not only hurt them, but my kids and actually myself too. And I guess when I think about it, all my extended family because of the riff.
      Eleven years after my H’s first affair, he did it again. My MIL worked hard trying to get me to stay (again) but I just couldn’t do it. My parents forgave me and helped me out. I am so grateful for their help and I so regret the years I and my kids lost with them. My father past 2 years after we reconciled. I wish I would have abided by the old saying Blood is thicker than water!

    • Youfirst

      After years of counseling people who have been cheated on, and following up with them in 10 years, I am convinced that leaving a cheating spouse is the right move in 99% of cases. The pain seems to remain even after counseling because it continues to be triggered. 70% of cheating spouses cheat again or mistreat the spouse in some way because they think if they stayed before, they will stay again. The cheated spouse ends up always feeling “less than” .
      In my professional opinion in most cases if a spouse cheats on you by choice and keeps doing it, (meaning it wasnt a stupid one night drunken mistake) they are self centered and will never put you first- you deserve better – leave the cheater and go find better!

    • Mary

      Cheating is worse than stealing- dont know why its not treated as a crime!!!
      Also would like to say at my ripe age of 85, I can say I have learned a few things over the years! I warned 4 grandchildren over the years not to marry their perspective spouses for various different reasons- if a partner is self centered- more likely to cheat, if a partner is a know-it-all – likely will be lots of conflict in the marriage- if they are lazy -well thats a no brainer. Not one of my grandchildren listened- all of the 4 ended in divorce. I also warned my own son of his fiancé- thank the Dear Lord he finally listened and never married her. She cheated twice on her husband once she married. Todays kids dont want to listen and they should. Years ago if our parents didnt like our beau’s, we didnt keep them because we had respect for our parents. Not so much today. Im not saying we liked it, but mostly we respected, of course there were a few headstrongs that didnt. Old saying “love is blind” is true.

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