Good Wednesday!

Yesterday we held some interviews with some wonderful infidelity experts that will be a part of our book on trust, and one of them mentioned that it is vitally important to understand WHY the affair happened. Cheating spouses included!

You may not want (or need) to know the sordid details of the affair itself, but you must understand WHY it happened so that you can heal and move beyond the affair towards saving your marriage.

How important is it to understand why the affair happened to you?

Is knowing WHY more important than knowing the details of the affair?

How has understanding WHY (or not) affected your relationship and your healing from infidelity?

As always, please respond to each other in the comments.

Thanks!

Doug & Linda

See also  Healing from Infidelity: I Liberated Myself Today

    22 replies to "Discussion: How Important is it to Understand Why?"

    • Morrigan

      Well to start,

      How important is it to understand why the affair happened to you?

      VERY IMPORTANT. And only just got the answer a week ago, 8 months after NC. Unlike many of you, he and I are not married, (neither of us ever thought it was needed, and no I know, even if married there are no gauruntees) but we have been together 14 years this May. When this happened last summer we had bought our first house together 12 days later was DDay. The whole affair lasted 6 weeks. After a blow up last week he finally told me that it was something he needed to know. They were somewhat friends, hanged with the same group of people for about 2 years, then something happened to her that made her ask him for help, he became the hero and feelings started. He had no intentions of it happening. But says when it did, it was something he had to figure out, he says its a fact of life, it happens, but it was terribly confusing for him, says it was his emotions for him to deal with. Lets put it this way, he was making a HUGE commitment that rather threw him into a tizzy, he is still dealing with that, she saw an opportunity. But what is important is this, when I asked why he ended it, he responded that “her personality was not what it appeared to be at first, and it was his decision to stay here and not see her again” He said that NOTHING I said to him swayed his desicion, it was something he had to figure out for himself, and where his future lay. Now that I know this I have found MUCH MUCH more peace with it all. I rather feel like we were tested, although it hurt tremendously, it was a test, he made up his mind. Through it all I have learned so much. But I am still working on forgiveness for the lies he did tell although at the time, he was also being brutally honest with me about a lot of it! Now that I look back, I wish I had done some things differently.

      If I didn’t know WHY, I don’t think I could move on. I feel like I can start to begin trusting again. It feels like a weight off my shoulders. His telling me this finally….was hard for him as he always feels like his emotions are his to deal with and won’t burden me.

      Is knowing WHY more important than knowing the details of the affair?

      YES, I think the details, after reading this site are pretty much the same for everyone, seems like a lot of the same things were done and said, pretty routine between the CS and OW/M.

      How has understanding WHY (or not) affected your relationship and your healing from infidelity?

      Please read the first paragraph, lol!

    • There Are Moments

      Why it happened is very important, it is in the knowing that we can then move towards correcting or making the improvements in our marriage. Hearing my spouse say that he felt we had a good, loving marriage but gets involved in an EA is a very hard comprehend. I can look honestly at our marriage and see the flaws over the last 24 years and I never thought once to have an affair. No flaw was ever worth the betrayal that has been done to any of us. I believe that so many factors can contribute to the EA that the spouse involved gets too clouded by the EA to use any logic during this time. Still is seems odd that at least for me, the betrayed spouse, I can see our the problems clearly through my emotion of pain, but the betraying spouse can’t in his infatuation mode. That being said, the affair happened and we both want to prevent it from either resurfacing or having another one. The verbal, truthful discussion, as to why, from the partner who had the affair is the most important, they felt, somewhere in there being entitled to do this and why or what did they feel was missing in the marriage to bring about the affair.
      I find it hard now after 8 months, to understand that he can’t express what he might now feel caused the EA. Like anything that he could say could hurt more the the betrayal at all. Of course, once you start counseling and reading, my spouse, I feel has educated himself in giving answers to make this question go away (spoon fed the reasons basically). Is self reflection one of the hardest things to do? Look at oneself and say what was I doing or not doing in my marriage that led me to have an affair. I think the realization that the my spouse is selfish is hard for him to admit. He has often omitted discussion that might go against his desired outcome. So, he would do what he wanted, enjoy it, then if I discovered the omission, we had a argument on him lying, not on what he did. Of course He would feel bad, but after the first time it happened the process continues and he bases his decisions he now believes to avoid a self imposed thought that everything would bring about confrontation. So, we are together in a marriage, each contributing in our own ways to the success and the failure. If the marriage is in success mode you of course ride the success. Like a car that breaks down, you need to have it analyzed, need to know what is wrong, how it might of happened, what could you have done to prevent it, repair it and then drive away. The details of the affair matter, I can say now that I think for the wrong reasons. This might be ego based. However, knowing all helps healing, prevents someone coming back or later your spouse accidently offering up new information and setting the whole healing process back. Betrayed people walk on a tight rope, we have no experience on this rope and anything from a kiss, a song, a daily chore and a change in the given information can trigger the fall into the depths of pain that are unimaginable. I will know later in our future when we are both healed how knowing everything really helped us heal.

      • Doug

        There are moments, I understand and agree with what you are saying. I believe for the first year or so after the affair our conversations concerning the affair were controlled by Doug. Even though I was the one initiated the questions, etc. he knew (maybe subconsciously or consciously) how to avoid putting the focus on him and exploring and talking about what allowed him to get involved in the affair.

        I believe by focusing on the feelings during the affair, the OP and what I could have done differently definitely diverted the issues that needed to be addressed. I know I contributed to this by spending so much of my energy on the OP and comparing myself to her that we neglected to explore what made Doug so vulnerable.

        I feel that Doug eventually explored how in got in this mess because I saw a huge change in him. He really stepped up and took responsibility for his actions and honestly “grew up”. I don’t think we could have moved on and been successful in our recovery with out each of us looking deep within ourselves, and figuring out what we needed to do to become a better spouse and a better person. Linda

        • Morrigan

          Linda, I would have to say that my CS did the same as for owning up. Never once did he ever say anything to me that indicated that I had contributed to the affair, he always said it was a problem within himself from day one, that there was nothing wrong with our relationship and that in no way was there anything ever wrong with me. When I asked questions about the OW he would ask why I wanted to know and if I was going to compare myself to her, because if I was he wasn’t going to answer, simply because she, as he told me, “didn’t hold a candle to me” He always stated the problem was internally within him. I can see it more now, as he is really struggling with himself and issues from his childhood, and who he wants to become as a person. He really is looking deep within himself as you said Doug did.

          Now I am sitting back and letting him grow and figure himself out, without pressure, but with a helping hand. It’s amazing how someone can hurt you so badly, yet you feel so much love for them, although, I am not ready to tell him that yet!!

          • Doug

            Morrigan, In the beginning that wasn’t the case for us, the affair was mainly my fault, and Doug talked about the good qualities of Tanya. I feel that if this wasn’t the case my pain, guilt and obsessions would have not been as severe. Do you think that your recovery has been easier (for lack of a better term) because your spouse took the responsibility for the affair? Linda

            • Morrigan

              Good morning Linda & Doug!

              Absolutely, I believe that the recovery has been much better and my self esteem too because from day one he took responsibility, never once saying I had ever done anything to push him in that direction. I would not have even known anything was going on if he hadn’t told me himself, although as the guilt was building I think I would have noticed if he hadn’t said anything. I am now looking at this more as one huge mistake he made in his journey of life, he came to one of those cross roads, he had a choice, it was not easy for him, but he chose a direction. We have all had them and unfortunately sometimes when you make a decision about your life, you hurt others. He has had one really tough life, but that is something I have always been aware of and I know that it has been my choice to be here. In a way, and I know this may not be easy for some to hear, but even though it hurt so badly that he had fallen for a friend and almost chose that path, I am proud of him that he didn’t, because that path really would have lead to destruction for him, as he saw only a few weekend into it when she hit him, (this and other events lead me even more to believe he is dealing with things from his past and an abusive upbringing). He has been cutting out toxic friendships now for about 2 years, huge progress for him and all his choice. He told me 5 weeks into the A the he had to “get himself back together, re-organize his life as I was the only positive person he has ever had in his life” He made big strides to correct everything at that time, he made a choice all on his own. Through the whole thing he was very guilt ridden, said he thought of me the entire time, was just very confused to what was happening. Unfortunately, when it started he thought he was paying back by doing good to help a friend, she however, really took advantage of that situation.

              Separately, in another thread some of you spoke of how many of us work in education, I too work in education, I mediate and counsel students. I wonder how many of us BS are considered “caretaker” personalities?

    • Melvin

      How important is it to understand why the affair happened to you?

      The WHY at the beginning was important. I found out WHY pretty easily (she needed someone to pump her up because she was down on herself). And I do share some of the blame for her feeling that way. However, she had a safe support group that she could have used but instead chose to cheat. To fix a problem between us, she went outside our marriage and began a dangerous liaison with her ex-fiance. And broke my trust in her.

      The WHAT is more important. WHAT were your feelings for him before/during/after? WHAT were his feelings towards you ? WHAT were the flirty texts and love messages you shared with him ? I needed to know more, I suppose, to gauge how much of a threat this man was to our marriage. And although I got some answers, I still believe she is hiding more of the truth – and certainly her innermost feelings.

      Is knowing WHY more important than knowing the details of the affair?

      At this point, No. I really would prefer to find out more details at this stage.

      How has understanding WHY (or not) affected your relationship and your healing from infidelity?

      Understanding the WHY has helped me change as a person for us. That has helped her side of the relationship. She is more happy with us. From my perspective, the WHY hasn’t helped that much in my heeling. The WHAT bothers me more these days. My trust in her is shot and she knows it. Just last Friday was his birthday. She had to call her girlfriend who scolded her into not contacting him, as she promised me she would do. He called her on her birthday earlier in the year during the EA, to her glee. She wanted to return the favor badly. How do I know this ? She told me days later. I believe, deep down, she is hiding her true feelings for this guy. Is this just me being paranoid ?

    • Robin

      The words that all of us use to describe what we are trying to do are healing, recovering, surviving etc. If you carry the medical metaphor forward, and the cause of the affair (why) is the disease, then the activities and feelings (what) are the symptoms. You can’t diagnose a disease properly without revealing all of the symptoms, and you can’t cure it if you don’t know what it is….if you are treated for a sinus infection when you have bacterial pneumonia, you don’t get well and may actually die.

      Can a marriage survive without honesty? Probably. Can you live with chronic allergies? Probably? Will you be happy constantly trying to ignore the symptoms of either? Probably not. The energy that it would take to ignore sneezing, coughing and itching and act like life is great seems like it would slowly suck the life out of me – and I imagine that pretending honesty exists when it doesn’t would be even more draining. Is it the type of marriage that any of us want after the struggles we have each had?

      Melvin – I am so sorry. I had a similar problem with my husband, and I do understand how hard it is to maintain balance. I would vary between believing that it was not sexual or serious and then wondering and then believing that it was a SA and that he truly loved her…and every variation because I just wasn’t given enough information to calm down. Even though he insisted that he loved only me and wanted to make our marriage work, he would not talk about the affair except in little bits and then he would withdraw afterward. I really thought I was going crazy and then realized that the lack of honesty and his anger or withdrawal when I asked questions was actually affecting my feelings for him much more that the affair had – and I finally told him – and really meant it – that I was really scared because I felt like I was going to wake up one morning and not care whether he was still here or not – and that it wasn’t something I felt like I could control. The affair happened and was over, but if he couldn’t step outside of his own feelings – whatever they were – and help me recover from the disaster he caused, then he really didn’t care enough about me for us to stay together. It took almost another 4 months for him to be completely honest, but at 7 months from that day I almost gave up, we are happier now than we have been in twenty years. Good luck reaching your wife – I think our spouses just have to finally realize that the truth is NEVER worse than the things we are afraid are true.

      • Melvin

        Thanks for the kinds words. I’m glad to hear your relationship is a happier one. I relaize it’s going to take time to rebuild our bridge.

        I have a name for these paranoid thoughts – I call them my “demons”. These demons laugh and put negative thoughts and ideas in my head. I don’t like these demons.

    • Saddenned

      I think the why is more important to me. I cannot change the what. Every time I hear about the what it hurts me.

    • Kathy

      I actually knew the “why” before my H confirmed my suspicions that he was involved with someone else. At first he tried to pass it off as “we were like roommates, so why stay together”; but a day later admitted there was this OW.

      Like Melvin, knowing the “why” has helped me fix my side of what was wrong in the marriage, to my H’s advantage. He certainly seems pleased with these positive changes. However, not knowing the “what’s” of the EA makes it seem like he is protecting it, and her. Holding it all close to his chest for whatever reason he has. If he can’t open up and share it with me, then what hope is there for us? I can’t live the rest of my life wondering.

      Knowing the “why” didn’t really change him at all. In fact, it was when I was able to find out SOME of the “what” that he changed. If he doesn’t take a good hard look at the “what”…and how that has affected me…then he isn’t trying too hard, in my opinion.

    • Saddenned

      Kathy,

      I don’t disagree that the “what” is still on my mind. It hurts to find out the “what”.

    • Kathy

      Saddened,
      It absolutely does hurt to find out the “what”, and after d-day I didn’t really want to know the “what” for that very reason. But for me, after I found out the lies and the sexting had continued, now I very much want to know the “what” because I want all the excitment and mystery of it removed, for the both of us. And it’s funny that as forthcoming as my H was about the “why”, he has not wanted to open up very much at all about the “what”. But like I told him, I would rather know and be hurt, and hear it from him, than to find out on my own later, or to be left wondering and imagining.

    • Jessica

      Each time I find out about a what and deal with that pain it’s strange but the pain from it diminishes and now I want to know all the what’s but he is selective and says he doesn’t want to cause me more pain if I had the capability I would read every text. I want to know everything, everything he thought he was keeping a secret from me I want to know.

    • suziesuffers

      Absolutely Jessica….I agree. It’s as if anything he keeps from me will have some secret meaning to him….something I want brought to the light. Maybe so I can dispute his “love” feelings for her. So somehow she comes of the pedastal. Maybe it’s to put it in his face and say……what do these feelings and words mean. He’s said alot of the same things to me….so what does it mean when it’s said to the OW…or it’s said to me. I want to get in his head and relive every moment to see what he was and is really feeling….not the words he uses to minimize what happened.

      Doug…………I don’t understand how when he was first coming partially out of the affair, he had one story about how wonderful she was……..really letting me know she was everything he ever wanted and I wasn’t…….but as time has gone by, the stories have gradually changed to the point that he says it was really pretty awful. I have enough problems trusting him without trying to “decipher” the true story. I don’t know if he was in the “fog” of his ego in this relationship and the OW looked better….or if now that quite a bit of time has passed he just sees how much it has hurt me and in order to avoid the hurt of the truth……how much he loved her and not me…..that he is changing the story so it will be less painful to me. Does he really feel she was wonderful and mesmerized by her….and because it ended he still carries those feelings but he’s with me and wants to minimize the pain so he says it wasn’t all that great. He didn’t end the affair, he got dumped. I guess he wasn’t all that to her. It’s all very confusing. Of course, everything out of his mouth is questioned, because everything he says feels like manipulation…just like the affair. Sometimes my thoughts feel like their in a blender!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Kathy

      Jessica and suzie, you both put it perfectly. If he wants it kept secret, then I want to know! I don’t want him to have secret memories of her. I think if they saw the harsh light of day and reality there would be nothing there for him to treasure anymore. Yes, I want to know if he said to her the things he’s said to me, and which was true and which was the lie.

      Hang in there suzie…I know the “thoughts in a blender” feeling…just happened the other day as a matter of fact. People on here are very supportive and helpful. 🙂

    • Jessica

      Why am I the one with so much pain and working so hard to hold our marriage together? Why doesn’t he come to this website and learn all he can about emotional affairs?
      Why didn’t he just leave when he started his EA? Why didn’t I leave when I found out?

    • suziesuffers

      Jessica, I think you just put into words all my thoughts this morning. I read and research everything I can get my hands on…and his response is….how much longer do we have to discuss this!! I saw something the other day the compared car maintenance to a marriage….how many guys would never do any maintenance on their car…or if they heard loud thumping sounds from the engine…wouldn’t they attend to that IMMEDIATELY for fear of damage to the car….then WHY can’t I get him to READ one flipping thing as to how to heal this marriage. Although he keeps professing how much he loves me and that all that he went through brought him to this ‘new” place in his life to understand how much he loves and needs me. WELL……then, show it by taking the initiative to figure out how to heal a marriage riddled with lies, deceit and infidelity!! Be the problem solver! Why am I ALWAYS the one working on this marriage and trying to SAVE it….what is it I’m trying to save….just keeping him!! That’s not a marriage…

    • suziesuffers

      I wonder sometimes if he’s with me just as a stepping stone to the next encounter…..just like me, I don’t want to be alone. So maybe he bounces back to me between his pursuits so he won’t have to be alone…and I don’t have to be alone…..there is even security and safety in the pain.

    • Jessica

      Suziesuffers,
      I totally understand what you are saying. I asked my H why couldn’t you see the truth about the OW sooner he says it takes six months to get to know someone WTF were you doing trying to get to know someone? Now I’m important? After 16 years you didn’t know this is and is that the truth? I don’t believe anything he says only his actions. He asked me is this how it’s going to be until I’m dead? I don’t know how long it will take I know I am getting better…. but the trust is gone. I keep asking myself will the pain be less if I leave? And then again he should see the pain he has caused.

    • Christina

      As the hurt person, how much of my emotional ups and downs should I share with my partner?
      Is it necessary for me to call him every single time I think he might be seeing her? Won’t that just create an environment in our relationship where he feels constantly checked on and I go crazy telling him how suspicious I am of him?
      It is a hard balance. . . . .
      There are definite times when I worry that they might be seeing or talking to each other- call it intuition . . . . ?
      But I have also had those feelings and then he calls and asks me to go somewhere or do something and must not have been/talking to her. . .
      When does it stop.

    • Saddenned

      Christina,

      Have you seen a marriage counselor? You have to recognize that sometimes it is just feelings, I have a hard time to… Reliving the moment brings those feelings back everytime, but you have to distinguish. The mind can play tricks on you.

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