The other day, we posted a real quick survey on what you would ask a therapist, author or expert about affair recovery and healing if given the chance. 

We had a really great response (Thank you!) and as we suspected, there were two main topics that popped up more than any other – trust and forgiveness.

Here’s an excerpt from “Journey to Trust:  Rebuilding Trust After an Affair”:

“One question that comes up a lot is whether or not forgiveness is a necessary predecessor to trust. Do you have to have forgiveness before you can trust?

That’s one of those which came first, the chicken or the egg things.  Because both of them often go hand in hand.

I firmly believe that you’ve got to go ahead and start rebuilding the trust before the forgiveness. The reason for that, even though you are taking a leap of faith and starting to trust them, many times you’re not even sure what you are going to forgive them for until after you have talked over the issues and you know what matters.

I know that sounds tough, but so many times the spouses want to go ahead and give a blanket pardon, or a blanket forgiveness to cover everything and then resentments build up. That becomes destructive to getting close to one another.

I would rather see you go ahead and start taking the steps to trusting each other, even if it’s just in small ways, and then when you are ready, to go ahead and deal with making the commitment in the form of forgiveness or whatever other type of commitment you’re looking for.

This might be a little counterintuitive to many people since forgiveness is often cited as a barrier to trust, but I think you have got to start with the trust and then get into the forgiveness.

Early on, it’s small ways, because you want to make sure you can trust the person with – for lack of a better term – objects and tangible things.

Can you trust them with the cell phones? Can you trust them with the bank account? Can you trust them to not take off in the night and go over to the lover’s house? Once those things start getting settled, then it feels safe enough to start taking the steps to trust them with your emotions. It’s at that point that you can go ahead and start dealing with the forgiveness.

I think you’re asking for a lot of heartache if you try to deal with the emotional issues before some of those other ones – the tangible ones – get settled.

I know that this may not make sense for all couples, but if you can’t trust, your husband or your wife to have a spare 20 dollars, because you know what they are going to do with it, then you know what I am talking about.

It takes the small steps for the spouse to gain trust with their emotions. A betrayed spouse has a shield over them until they let them self go freely and trust that their spouse isn’t going to reject them.  It takes a lot of time for this to happen and to be completely honest with yourself about your feelings.  

At the same time, it can be hard for the person going through this to just differentiate between trusting and forgiving. Are you trusting, or are you forgiving?

I think it’s just a feeling that you have, the more security you feel when you’re with the person, your heart isn’t racing. It’s just something that happens. You can’t really label it as trust or forgiveness, but it just feels better.

Taking a look at the other side of the coin, one of our favorite authors, Dave Carder, who wrote “Torn Asunder” and “Close Calls,” takes the stance that you must begin the process of forgiveness first. 

He feels that to the extent that you can forgive, you gain respect, and to the extent that you have respect, you gain trust.

It’s hard to argue with this opinion as well, so you really need to look within and try to determine what suits you best and go from there.”


See also  Discussion – Why Did You Decide to Remain Married After an Affair?

Well, that’s a pretty long preface to our discussion this week…

What do you feel needs to happen first…trust or forgiveness? 

Does it matter?

Can you have one without the other?

Why are both so difficult?

Please tell us about your own experiences and reply to one another in the comment section below.


Linda & Doug



    39 replies to "Discussion – What Comes First…Trust or Forgiveness?"

    • overwhelmed

      Well, it seems I’m doing it all backwards again. For me, I feel as though in many ways, I’ve already forgiven my wife. Despite the fact that this marriage is almost certainly at its end now. Despite the fact that she shows no interest in salvaging 20 years together. Indeed, anyone who’s read my forum posts knows that my wife is so far gone that she has even hurt our 2 young children horribly. Yet, still, this feeling of forgiveness gives me some peace. I have begun to forgive her, even though not asked for because I know she is not the person she used to be. She has been manipulated, whether intentionally or not by the OM into believing everything with him is perfect and everything with me is horror. She is not capable of thinking rationally. So in mind my, she is ill. Therefore, I will forgive her for the pain, the lies and the infidelity, in my mind, until such a time, if ever, that she can recognize the pain and damage this affair and hr actions have caused. I need to do this for me. For inner peace.

      This video sums it up quite well.

      • Doug

        Remember there are no rules – no right or wrong way. Do what you think is best and what works for you.

        Her fantasy view of the OM will soon come crashing down as both of them expose their flaws and imperfections. Take care of your kids now, they need you.

        • overwhelmed

          Thanks Doug. That’s what I’m doing. It’s all about the kids now.

    • Patsy50

      In my case forgiveness came first very shortly after my husband told me of his EA. Let me explain. We decided to work on our relationship and in order for me to do this I had to forgive him but not forget what he had done to me or I could not stay with him.

      Trusting came shortly next. He still worked in the same office as the OW although not directly with her on any projects but there was always a possibility,of that. I guess I took a big chance and threw caution to the wind on this one but with this leap of faith he got to prove himself worthy of my trust again. And he also keeps his boundaries that we have set in place. It will be almost 3 yrs from D-day so far so good

    • chiffchaff

      Both of us decided that we didn’t really know what is meant by forgiveness so decided to avoid ever using that term.
      We worked on trust, in very small things, which my H broke frequently and in bigger things, which my H also frequently broke. Until I broke and kicked him out. But it was eventually having trust and my H show that he could be trusted to do small and big things, not forgiveness, that mattered to us.
      I think that my H considers these days that what he did to me and our marriage was actually unforgiveable. and so it stays that way.

    • forcryin'outloud

      I forgave in stages. It wasn’t some all encompassing “I forgive you.” (I did that a few weeks after d-day and then more and more lies came out.) Forgiveness has been a process of dealing with the actions of the affair, the lies, the damage to our relationship and the issues it has caused in our family. So, there have been many acts of forgiveness not just a blanket offering.
      Trust has been difficult for me for reasons that do not involve forgiveness.
      I believe forgiveness and trust are a step by step process individually. And I’m unsure if they are dependent on one another. I have forgiven people I no longer trust but if I trust you I more easily forgive. Probably because I more easily believe in your intentions.
      Similar to Overwhelmed, I forgave for my own inner peace. However, I don’t completely trust because my H has proven he is a compulsive liar.

    • Hopeful

      I couldn’t forgive until I really felt I knew everything, trusted that he had changed, a lot of time passed, and well…I am still not sure I entirely forgive him. Mostly. I understand it and love him and am happy with our lives, but somehow forgiving feels like giving over (I know it isn’t) and there’s this persistent feeling of wanting to control that last bit that makes it hard to say I forgive him.

      But for all intensive purposes, I do forgive him. Trust comes first for me. And time.

      • lost

        Hopeful, I agree with you completely. I have to trust my H, so that I can continue each day with him, But, as someone else said, NEVER 100% again. As with you, I’m also not sure of everything that I need to forgive. AND, I also feel like it’s the one thing I have on him, I know that sounds awful, but I feel once I actually say ,” I forgive you”, then he wins. I hope in time, this situation is over and I also can trust & forgive, But, to early to say

    • gizfield

      I can’t see any reason why one or the other should come first. But I don’t particularly believe you have to have either, for what it’s worth. I think people are looking at these issues as absolutes, anyway. By that, I mean it’s all or nothing. Most cheaters will say “you either trust me or you dont!” And then get pissed off, lol. I use a scale, like a percentage, from 0% to 100%. I gave my husband 100% trust before. He hadn’t earned it and he abused it. Trust me, he won’t be seeing that again. Maybe 80%, but never 100. He proved himself to be too much of a liar. As for forgiveness, he abused that one too. There was a point I could have forgiven him a lot, but now, not so much. I think everyone on here has to have forgiven their spouse a certain amount to even continue to be married to them. I still think he has gotten off very lightly, and there will be no Next Time. The forgiveness and trust meters have expired.

      • Kar

        I thought after I found out I trusted him. But after a year of lies I found on d-day I was very resentful towards him. I realized I was in such shock that I believed so many of his lies only to keep putting the pieces together and finding out he was still lying to me, which now makes me feel foolish and used. I know when he told me it was only once and he felt so guilty and realized how much he loved me I wanted to believe him yet when I looked at the phone records and say he called her even more after the first time I think how could I have trusted and forgive him so easily that know I feel stuck. I think true trust has to come first and I think that takes a long time an eg its been 1 year and 6 months and I’m still trying to get him to admit the truth. He doesn’t understand that if he’s not honest with himself then I can’t trust him since being dishonest with him selve is how affairs start and continue. So I have not truly forgiven him since I can’t trust him since he just wants it all to go away instead of admitting the truth. We will get through this I just wish he could understand he’s not helping me or himself by trying to lie to himself. Looking back I think you need the truth so u can trust before forgiveness. All he has done is set me back with his lies makes me realize his words are not trust worthy which makes me un able to forgive because I’m afraid he will do this again.

        • Sandra

          I think should come first. As with Gizfield my husband continues tell lies. I can not see us moving forward from here until he is willing to admit to what he has done. So how do you forgive someone who does not acknowledge they have done wrong.

          My therapist says I need to forgive first. In order for us to move forward in our marriage. Hell will freeze over first. Until he comes clean.

    • Strengthrequired

      Forgiveness came first for me, trust is still being worked on.. However how many times do you have to forgive all the lies and betrayal after the first dday.
      I agree gizfield, there is only so much forgiveness and trust that you can had out. It’s the lying that was getting harder and harder to forgive. Trusting, how do you hand over trust to someone that has lied without even blinking, I too trusted my h 100%, he earned my complete trust over he ears of our marriage, but the he took advantage of my trust, now trusting him, very very hard. I think it’s a good start to be able to have a starting point for learning to trus again, like paying bills, etc.. So I will probably start looking at what I do trust my h with, so I can get to the point where I can try and trust him with my heart and emotions. That will definately come last.

      Something my h said to me yesterday.
      ” I get upset with how you talk sometimes, like I don’t love or care about you, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t, I would have left along time ago”
      What he seems to forget is, he told me he didn’t love me, he showed me he didn’t care for me, by keeping her in our lives after he apparently chose me, let her trash my name, let her hurt me and our children, broke my heart into a million pieces, he kept choosing her feelings over mine, watched me loose myself, mov from my family, my friends, two of my children, to be in a place where I still don’t know anyone, because I don’t trust anyone anymore. I don’t want to get to know someone and then because/ my h is barely around, start opening up to a friend and tell them what happened, why my h isn’t around, why I can’t go to where I used to live, why my oldest children aren’t with me. Yet she has free access to my h, anytime she wants to try to drag him away, she hasn’t lost her friends, her family are still together, she has lost nothing.
      So yes, I’m guarding my trust as much as I can, I’m guarding my heart and soul as much as I can, until I see complete change.

    • gizfield

      One more thing, I do trust my husband a lot more as a PERSON than I do as a romantic PARTNER. I mean, I trust him not to steal,or do drugs, be a general shit, and to treat our daughter well. Things like that. But not to keep away from Whores. Esp ones claiming to be “friends”….

    • gizfield

      STILL shaking my damn head and laughing my ass off that my husband was trying to convince his skank WHAT A GOOD PERSON he was by lying compulsively and cheating on me. Oh, wait, I forgot her ex CHEATED on her and she would NEVER DO THAT. lol. You just did, bitch!

    • kelbelly

      I have found forgiveness for my H but I have not found complete trust. Though he does an amazing job every day to prove that he loves me and wants to be in our marriage, the words that he said to this OW still ring in my head and leave doubt.

      He told her that he did not love me anymore and that he was only staying until our son graduated. Those words haunt me still. We have 3 years until our youngest graduates and I wonder every day if he will be leaving.

      I dont dwell on it every day or stress about it but it is always in the fore front of my brain. I am not sure that i will trust that he is staying until that time comes and goes.

    • hurt wife

      Kelbelly, I also forgive my HB but Its hard to forget. My HB also works hard to prove that he loves me and he wants us to grow old together. But………… I find it hard to forget some of the things that were said between them. We are 2/12 years past DDay and even after my HB wrote her an email explaining he no longer would have any contact with her she has continued trying to contact him. He has shown me all these attempts which has helped build trust. It was every 6 months or so that some email would come and the last few were more recent, a month apart.
      She has even taken to trying to write in her contact to him that she wants to apologize to me and is asking for my forgiveness and wants us all to be friends. My HB and I decided a long time ago to ignore her attempts in the hope that she will just stop!! It seems that my HB can see now that she is a crazy b….tch, but I always wonder what if?? We are far away from her right now, but will be moving closer at some point and I wonder what then?… It seems to be a constant struggle.

      • kelbelly

        Hurt wife, I am lucky that the OW has not ever tried to contact my H at all. She did tell many many times when I was talking to her that she was sorry but she was in love with my H so I often wonder just what all he said to her to get her to fall so hard but I know at this point, I will never know everything but am ok with that.

        I think if she were to continue to try contacting my H, I would have a no contact order put against her or show up and beat her a$$ lol!

    • Strengthrequired

      Hurt wife, it’s great that your h shows you all the attempts she makes to get him to respond. You would think by now she would have given up, but we aren’t talking about normal people here, these women are relentless and will keep trying until someone else tickles her fancy.
      My h crazy ow uses his name (our)surname as hersmon fb. Now I find that weird my h on the other hand doesn’t because they are related, it’s her mothers maiden name, not hers. It just makes me I’ll, thinking about it.
      I’m now waiting for someone else to tickle her fancy so she forgets my h ever existed. Lol

    • Strengthrequired

      Actually I would love to see her show my h a really crazy side of herself, where my h sits back and goes “whoa, what a missed bullet that was, glad I saw that so I never go back in that direction again “phew”

      • Exercise grace

        My husbands sure showed the bunny boiler side, and while it had driven home the “I dodged a bullet” mentality, it causes other issues. As he watches her direct cyber-bullying at me and cyber stalks the kids, it pains him freshly ,two years after he ended the affair, that it seems like she will never let it go. It also reminds him freshly oh his mistakes and shame, he sees the fear and resentment it triggers in me and that in turn causes him to turn anger inward. No one wins in this situation, per usual in infidelity.

        • Strengthrequired

          Eg, unfortunately, I don’t think cousin it will ever let go, I don’t even think my h has any ill feelings towards her either. I just see this nightmare lasting forever until I break the cycle from my end.
          Even one I’m do upset with my h, he couldn’t even give a call tonight to say goodnight or just to check in, it as me tempted at sending him a message like ” if you want your cousin it, then hav your cousin it, just don’t drag me or your kids down with you”.

          Even though I did send him a message of, ” I’m glad to know whoever your with is good company, have a good weekend”
          Sarcastically of course.

          Yet I just see myself getting resentful towards him because he couldn’t be bothered to lift his finger and call, or even answer his damn phone. It pisses me off, and has me wonder why I’m still here, because I just can’t trust. It doesn’t matter that I love him, it’s worthless if trust isn’t there, and my h couldn’t just do the right thing by me. I don’t care for ” I was tired, excuse ” that’s all it is an excuse, if that is what he is going to say, it does not hurt to still call or just send a message.
          Sorry I’m not impressed right now. I just don’t understand myself why I’m still here.

    • chiffchaff

      This article and everyone’s comments has really made me think alot about my current situation. Although things are good in our marriage now I think that the relative calm we’re experiencing means I am more able to consider some issues I’m left with following what my H did.
      The upshot is that I’m not sure whether I should stay with my H. I frequently feel that I will never feel comfortable trusting him and I can feel a building resentment that although I’m still working hard on myself, physically and mentally, doing the one woman circus thing others have mentioned, he’s still pretty lazy on the relationship front. It’s like we’ve got to a safer harbour and he’s pulled in the sails for a big sleep. I booked us some suprise tickets out for comedy event last night, which was fun, but even there there was a woman who made it so clear that she was interested in my H (staring at him, tottering and giggling past him, maybe I’m being oversensitive) despite him also being with someone, me. I know that this says more about her own lack of morals but this keeps happening. It makes me feel so bloody miserable and is something I never felt before. It’s that constant worry that eventually it will be someone else. there’ll be another low moralled slapper who will fall over him at a low point in his life and off he’ll go again.
      I know that this is a common long term consequence for BSs but I am wondering if I can live with it anymore and maybe it’s time to quit. My H didn’t respond to this woman, I would imagine he never even noticed, honestly. but one day he might.
      we’re just about to go off for a long awaited holiday so I’m hoping these feelings diminish for a while.

    • Strengthrequired

      Chief, Ive been sitting here wondering the same thing. My h is hardly ever home, I don’t feel like I can trust him until he is home every night. I wonder how I am going to keep it together when it has already been eight months like this and getting worse,. I doubt my h will even come home tonight, he won’t even be home Saturday night. Once a week or even twice a week isn’t enough for me, yet I feel bad at the same time because he is working hard so we don’t lose our business our home. So i sit here trying to manage my feelings of being alone and not feeling good enough.
      Sometimes I feel like saying stay down near work, get yourself sorted and when your work is in a better place and you haven’t gotten used to being away then come home.
      I actually feel like I’m in a marriage where the kids and I aremstillmlast in the agenda. Just sitting there and only seen when he feels like it.
      I know that I wouldn’t feel like hadn’t have been for his ea, and really I doubt we would even be in the position we are in, where we are struggling.
      I don’t want to leave my h, but sometimes I just look at how im struggling to trust, and can’t help but wonder how much longer I can wait before our life is looking better, or is it going to be like this for years to come where my h is doing his own thing and I’m home alone with the kids.
      How will our marriage survive this separation on the long term. All I know is I dont want to live like this for much longer. I’m so confused, I don’t know what to believe, I don’t know what to think, I’m tired of trying to analyze everything, I’m tired of the whole damn situation.
      I am trying so very hard to give my h the benefit of the doubt, but it’s hard. I had a pediatrician appt for my two youngest daughters, Monday coming and it’s down near where I used to live, right near where the ow lived. I Ended up canceling and re booking, as i am still having trouble going back there, the anxiety attacks hit, I still cant cope.
      My h actually laughed when i told him that I still couldn’t cope going down there that my anxiety levels gomthrough the roof, he just doesn’t understand what this has done to me.
      I don’t know-how much time it is going to take before i feel ok going there without any problems.
      I was thinking about if I ever leave my h, I have no one left, no friends left because of his ea, I don’t have family around, yet my h still has his friends, all of them, even though we socialized with his friends and their wives, they won’t be apart of my life if we separate, his family I wouldn’t even dare see them again, because I have humiliated enough.
      So I’m stuck, I also don’t want to hurt my h by leaving, it ismjust a vicious cycle, and I keep feeling guilty for feeling the way I do. It just sucks. Love truly hurts.

    • Gizfield

      Chiffchaff, I too consider myself to be a “flight risk.” It’s like I’ve traded places with the Cheater. “unhappy”, thinking my future would be better else, lacking commitment. I have had my share of lying, cheating losers and was with him because I thought he was a “good person”. But guess what, he is a lying, cheating loser too. Maybe that is why people buy into the AffairFog scenario so easily. It’s much easier to think they were in some sort of blameless coma than to admit Yes, my spouse (not someone else) did this. Knowingly, intentionally, repeatedly and did not give a rat’s ass about the harm they were causing. What has been “seen” cannot be unseen. I just consider the person they were a component of their personality, it’s still on there, waiting to emerge. The real questionis whether it will or not, and if I want to be waiting around to greet it.

      • chiffchaff

        it is like trading places in someway, yes.
        It also feels like my H is desperately wanting to be seen as the good guy with everyone. His nephew is seriously ill in hospital and so he has been going to visit as often as he can during the day even though he should be at work. I’m pleased he’s doing this but I find it awful that while he’s visiting I’m also wondering if he really is there at all or if he’s lying to me. That feels really awful to suspect him of lying so badly at this time, not just to me but to everyone like that, but it’s because of what he did before. I don’t even feel like I can ask if he really was there without it coming across that I think he’s capable of being so hideously conniving.
        why is it that CSs cannot see and understand the long term consequences for others of what they do like normal people and not choose to slip into bed with the first sadsack they come across?

        • Strengthrequired

          Chiff, what I find, is that I feel guilty with every thought that comes into my head, I feel guilty for not being able to trust. I feel like I’m always the bad person. Yet I never gave myself that title until I was made to feel like I was such a bad wife, mother, friend, in my h eyes due to my h ea.
          So I kept it going unintentionally. Thinking at times this is all my fault, if I was better, we never would have faced this, however I know it was not my problem to own, it was not me who cheated, I did not do this to us. So it’s strange to be knowing it’s not on me, yet to still feel guilty.
          As for the cs not seeing the long term effects of what they cause through being unfaithful, I don’t understand it myself, maybe they truly are blinded by infatuation and fulfilling their own ego, that they can’t see the devastation they leave around them, and when they do, they prefer to forget because they see all the hurt they caused was by their own hand. It would have to be a terrible burden to have that hanging over your head, especially from those that would never have succumbed to such a place in their lives that would hurt those they truly love. I guess I would prefer to try and forget too, if I ever hurt anyone so terribly, because it would be a rude shock to me, if I ever did and I couldn’t see what was happening until it was too late, until after I woke from some strange trance.

    • Gizfield

      Strength required, I also believe my biggest problemis lack of commitment. I have these spells where I just get really pissed off, or alternately, melancholy. To use an old fashioned word. I wake up some mornings and just want to BAIL. It isn’t related to forgiveness or trust either. It’s more like Fraud, he is not the person he presented himself to be. It passes, but still it is there and very strong.

    • Rachel

      Still not divorced. Court couldn’t be this Thursday because the ex is golfing in cape cod until Sunday . What a rough life he has.
      Good news though, I got approved to refinance the house in my name only. The ex told my attorney if I needed him to cosign he would . Are you kidding me!!!!!! He just doesn’t stop!
      Oh and did I mention his soulmate has a house in the exact town that he will be golfing at in the cape?
      Hopefully next Thursday I will have some good news that this drawn out drama is over. Fingers crossed.
      Thanks for letting me vent, it helps.

    • Gizfield

      Chiffchaff, he absolutely cannot stand to be seen as the bad guy. I have a phone app called Virtual Recorder and I taped a couple of our fights so I could recall what was said. I list.ened to them earlier. Always the same story… I am “crazy”. He didn’t do anything wrong…he snuck around 8 months behind my back pursuing a whore, who knew he was married with a child, announced he wanted a divorce. Said he was done with the bitch but was caught in contact with her various times the next couple of years. Talked to her about 8 months after this nasty slut called me all kind of names. Sneaking and lying the entire time. And he never did anything wrong. His basis for this? Well, apparently since he *alledgedlye* never inserted his *penis*into her *vagina* it’s just all ok. No harm done. Sorry to be so graphic but I repeatedly see people using this same logic on here. I told him I dont believe him, and truthfully there is no way for him to prove otherwise, is there? In my personal opinion, adultery starts when you want to have sex with someone other than you spouse AND YOU BEGIN ANY SORT OF ACTION to make it happen. Sneaking and lying certainly meet that criteria.

      • Strengthrequired

        Why is it we are always the “crazy, whacked in the head” ones? It baffles me, we wouldn’t feel this way if they had just stayed being faithful and didn’t give into temptation and had us feel like we had some serious flaw that was unfixable, because we were that bad it took trash to seduce him. Little did they realize that what they had right in front of them was what really mattered.
        I honestly think that’s why my h kept lying to me with his continued contact with cousin it, because he hadn’t stuck it in, then he wasn’t doing anything wrong.
        It’s funny my h told me th other day, how she wouldn’t get the hint that he didn’t want her, she wouldn’t let go. Well of course she isn’t goingto let go if you kept giving her a reason not to, like telling her to
        He wanted to always look like this good guy, he didn’t want o hurt her, so he played her game in the hopes she would get sick of it and leave on her own. Men, honestly.
        He thought it wouldn’t have taken as long as I did. Well derr. As long as they think there is a chance, as long as they keep getting spoken to lovingly and like your interested in what they have to say, they aren’t going to budge.
        I went through all that prolonged pain, because he didn’t want t hurt cousin it’s feelings. Stuff her feelings I say.

    • Strengthrequired

      Rachel, yay for the loan approval, congratulations.
      Sorry t hear that again court didn’t happen, hang in there ok.

    • Joan

      My husband had an EA with a girl from our church…all of 18. She was flattered because he treated her as much older than she was and wrote gushy reply. He lied and hid these things then after I found out he continued to pine for her and lied to our therapist and me about following her on Facebook and the Internet. he once said, “Leave it to me to love someone who doesn’t love me back ” and still wants to know what she is up to because she is so “interesting”. That she and her family still at our church. He lost his mom the previous year and she was cold and it was so clear that he kept trying to “win ” her approval. So he substituted this girl who wrote him mostly about herself but saying how wonderful he was, Etc. He thinks it enough to not contact her but I can’t stand that I think he is still enamored of her. He refuses to change churches. I may quit although I will also miss friends. She is a nice kid who may have thought of him as a substitute dad. His intentions were pretty blatant although he has keeps changing his story to himself and me saying how it wasn’t that bad and he is working on “our” relationship. Not so until I know he is no longer in “love” or pining for his special friendship …which I told him. He just thinks I need to “move on”. In other words let him pine for her from afar in peace. Because of his ability to compartmentalize his life (say he loves me and have this “crush” or whatever on this kid …and lie about it for almost a year) I don’t know that I can trust him. And he wants all of this kept secret of course because if I tell people that is just “revenge” to make him look bad. It feels like emotional abuse. He is on antidepressants but I wish there were a way he could have one of those BIG wake up moments. Like me talking with her in front of him and telling her everything. To make sure he never wants to be around her again. He still has the fantasy of being friends and catching up” with her. And we have been married over 25 years. It has been devastating to me.

      • livingonafence

        Joan, it’s simple. Either both of you change churches or you’re going to discuss the matter with the girl’s parents. You shouldn’t be forced to attend church with her, and you shouldn’t be forced to go to a church different from your husband’s. If he’s that selfish then show him the light. Show him you will NOT be a total doormat, and he will either prove his commitment to you and your marriage or he will be discussing his inappropriate behavior with her parents.

        It’s totally selfish of him to continue to want to be around her and to think you just have to accept it. You don’t. If he won’t change churches then ask her family to do so.

        • Joan

          You make a lot of sense. it is an extraordinarily weird circumstance. The girl is now 20 and a “rising star” in a line of work in which he has always been interested but never been able to get a job. She is in college – but the college is close by. So since she is active in the field (and I won’t say which line of work) and local, she is involved in the same types of organizations outside of the college that he would be involved in. I said “would” because he needs to restrict his involvement to avoid her as well. She is interning with an organization that under normal circumstances he would also be doing some volunteer work for – but….a no go. She has also been in the news as she is considered a student leader, blah blah blah. So that is why he kept on following her whereabouts and looking up news on the internet – but also we ended up getting tickets to a football game last fall on campus and he knew she was in the student section and said he “found himself” going down to that area when he went to get popcorn, but then said he didn’t find her so why was I bothered when I found that out? So the church thing is a risk in the summer and at holidays. And my friends are there too. He refuses to work on the infatuation (which he says is gone) but says that if he works on his self esteem he won’t need to hearken back to when he was feeling great when she was telling him how wonderful he was (they had served on a committee together at church and he always treated her as an adult – which most teenagers love). She is a friendly outgoing and smart girl – but she is a kid. He cannot envision her as anything but an emotionally mature adult – and that is the problem – he had even asked her questions about her theories on raising children(!). I believe he still has her on a pedestal. And says that if he just tries to work on himself that will work. I want him to focus (with his therapist) on demystifying the infatuation- analyze it to death. She needed/wanted a substitute dad (who is rarely there – very involved with his business) . His reply was that well he didn’t know that and didn’t know what their relationship was, etc. Since he claims it could not have possibly been romantic on her part that it is ridiculous for me to worry about something that could happen. If I would just get over worrying about so everything coudl go back to “normal” we could go to church and see her and say hello and that is his goal – to be”normal” again – because he sure would like to talk with her about all her new “experiences” – as a platonic friend of course. So this is much more than church it is a black hole. I’d like to move away – but we both need to work and still have kids in college (one just beginning – and she is a friend of this girl’s – but is not aware of any of this). And the girl is not really aware of anything except that my husband doesn’t talk with her anymore and will leave if she shows up – mostly – unless he doesn’t .
          His therapist just wants to work on his self esteem – and told him that of course he could see how he could be flattered by this. But his therapist refuses to say that my husband is “addicted” to his infatuation or anything like it – it certainly seems that way to me. My husband likes his therapist -not sure what good it is doing. I don’t really want to see our couples therapist until we have something to move forward towards. If I do not feel “safe” that he is over this girl and that he is just waiting for me to get better, then I don’t see the point in spending money on the couples therapist.

    • Gizfield

      Sandra, I dont really think they believe what they did was wrong, I just think they feel if they can convince themself, you will be convinced too. I decided I had had enough of that crap. Like Richard Pryor or some comedian said, You have to outlogic these mother F ers. lol. One day he started the usual I didnt do anything WRONG crap. I said “oh, how do you figure that?” “we were friends long before I met you.” Ok. “so what was the basis of your friendship?” “we lived at the same apartments.” Wow, I was certainly impressed by that, let me tell you. So I said, “I guess it’s ok to sneak around with someone and lie about it since you lived in the same apartments. What about people you worked with or went to school with.? that should be ok, too, right?” Now I’ve worked st the same place over 20 years, about a thousand people at a time. Went to a college with about 30,000. Not to mention all the other people I’ve met. So there are thousands of people I could sneak around with cause we’re “friends”. when you break it down for them in in a concrete way just HOW STUPID what they are saying, it does seem to help. And I think it is crucial for them to believe it is wrong, cause if they don’t, WHAT is going to stop them from DOING IT AGAIN? Nothing, that is what. My advice is do not give up on this issue.

    • Carol

      Joan, so sorry. That experience of compartmentalizing is pretty common among CSs, I think. For some reason they think that’s acceptable behavior (!). I’m sure they wouldn’t like it if their spouses were “compartmentalizing” feelings for another man.
      Also common for male CSs is the need for approval from women because of a lack of affection or real approval from their mothers. My H had 3 EAs, the last one the worst of them all, with three women who all look like his mother and act like her, too (vain, self-absorbed, artsy, dishonest, foodies, impractical). The psychological aspects of it all were very transparent. That doesn’t make it any less painful, of course. But it helped me to realize that the EA wasn’t really about me at all, anything I did or didn’t do, etc. It’s all about the CS and his issues, and his inability to man up and face them head-on.
      I don’t know what others would feel about keeping things secret — I told my H that I would not tell people willy-nilly but nor would I lie if they asked what was wrong in our marriage. I told him he shouldn’t do things secretly that would be embarrassing to him if they got out publicly. I wasn’t trying to hurt him — but I’m certainly not going to start lying and covering up for him, when I’ve always prided myself on being an honest person.

    • AnnaB

      I had to really think about this question. But I think you only start forgiving if you’re secure and relaxed, and that can only happen if your H or W proves they have severed ties with him/her and they make a huge effort to reassure you. Obviously everyone is different and some people find it hard to express themselves, so you don’t know how sorry or ashamed they are. My H has apologised many times and keeps me informed of where he is going each day, which I appreciate. However, he has lied so many times in the past that I sometimes find it hard to relax. Also, in the beginning I wasn’t sure what forgiveness actually is. But further on, I think it must be just getting on with things in a ‘normal’ way and laughing together etc. Regarding trust, my logic tells me it is unlikely to happen again because of the ‘fireworks’ it caused, and the unsettling atmosphere that upset our children. But still I’m on my guard and won’t allow myself to ever relax completely in case I’m let down again. I’ve discovered that I’m stronger than I could ever have imagined, but if it happened again I worry that the stress and grief woud result in a breakdown.

    • exercisegrace

      For me, I think that the DECISION to forgive came first. I made the decision to begin the process of forgiving almost right away and I work toward that daily. On the other hand, he broke trust that had been built over nearly thirty years. You can’t just (or at least I can’t) just “decide” to trust someone and that’s that. I trust him incrementally as I see him being open and honest. As I have not caught him in any lies. As he lives transparently. As he shares his feelings more with me. Trust will take much longer to rebuild and to be perfectly honest, I will NEVER have the TYPE of trust I did before: total, complete, blind, unquestioning trust. I would be stupid to trust that way and frankly I think I was stupid to trust that way to begin with. Every relationship should have some accountability in it.

    • Gizfield

      Joan, I agree that it is just so creepy that he is using church to further his inappropriate feelings for this girl. They like to think other people dont notice , but of course they do. My brother’s wife repeatedly caught him viewing porn. She threw him out of the house, then reported him to the church. They told him he had demons, and performed a genuine exorcism on him. I kid you not . Straightened him right out though.

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