Hello everyone!

After the affair, many of us are looking for answers. “Why did this happen?” What could I have done so that it wouldn’t have happened?” “What is the other person like?” The list goes on and on.

We are also looking for something from the cheating spouse. A true apology, to show remorse, and to do whatever they need to do to make it up to us and to help us heal.

With this in mind… What would you like your spouse to do to heal your relationship?

Please feel free to share your story, and respond to each other’s comments!

Have a great day!

Doug & Linda

See also  How to Regain Trust in a Marriage - The Trust Contract

    30 replies to "Discussion: What Does Your Spouse Need to do After the Affair?"

    • Dori

      After 30 years of marriage I found out my husband is having an emotional affair with his business partner. The fact that she is a business partner means that they will continue to work together.
      I need him to acknowledge that he had an emotional affair, and I need him to tell me it will stop and not continue, and I need him to tell me that he will put up bounderies with her, and I need to need how he will put up those bounderies. But so far he hasn’t told me he will, and although he is making an effort at changes, I feel like he thinks he can make changes to keep me happy and continue on with his emotional affair with her.

      • Doug

        Dori, Thanks for starting the discussion. I think that your husband will find it very difficult to end an affair while still being in constant contact with the OW. As you are probably aware, one of the most important boundaries is no contact with the OP. What sort of other boundaries do you propose might work in light of their business arrangement?

      • surprised

        Dori – I completely understand what you are saying. My H also works with the OW and is now helping her fight an EEO complaint because “he’s the only one that will help her in the office”. The texts have started again where he’ll drop everything including family time to answer them & phone calls. It’s not of a personal nature anymore (at least not the texts I can see) but there is still an interconnected neediness for the relationship to continue. I’m just so tired of it all.
        In answering the question, I need my H to put up boundaries & make this OW off limits during evenings & weekends & when she does interrupt, tell her he is busy with his family & he will talk to her at work the next day.

        • Doug

          Surprised, I know it’s got to be tough to be in a situation where the OW and your husband still have contact on an everyday basis like that. One of the top marriage experts, William Harley would tell you that your husband must end the contact with the OW completely–no exceptions. Even if that means finding a new job or moving out of state. Ii know in this economy that can be easier said than done, so in light of that, you certainly need to get those boundaries in place at the very least. Total off limits between the two of them would be better.

    • LizS

      I would like for my husband to show me that he truely values me….that our marriage is worth his time….

    • ruth

      He needs to open up and answer all my questions honestly even if he thinks they will hurt me. My unanwered questions are haunting me.

    • Jeffrey Murrah

      What I see that makes a difference is when there is a change in priorities, and a change in attitude. With the change in attitude, there needs to be a change in thinking and a change in what they do.

      Talk without change = No Change.

      I would get more specific, but what each couple wants from their cheating spouse differs. It varies from finding another job to spending more time with the kids, to praying together. Each person has unique needs. What they have in common are the changes in priorities and real changes in attitude.

      • Doug

        Jeffrey, I agree that a spouse needs for the betrayed spouse to change their priorities and their attitude. I also feel as the betrayed spouse that I really need to see a change in their actions. I really look at how Doug is behaving toward me and the emphasis he is putting toward our relationship more than what he is saying to me. Sometimes I have difficulty trusting his words because he lied so much to me during his affair that I really try to focus on what he is doing to gain my trust and show his commitment toward me. I not demanding that he shower me with gifts (although flowers would be nice) I just look at the effort he is putting forth in order to make our marriage his highest priority. For so long it was at the bottom of our list, since the affair we both have learned what we need to do for it to remain at the top. It takes time, we have given up some things but I feel it has been worth the effort. Linda

    • Empty

      I would like to be romanced and pursued… I want him to text me just because he’s thinking of me, send flowers because he knows I’ve had a rough day, tell me he loves me a million times a day. I want him to do those things not because I tell him it’s what I need but because he wants to. He used to do those things and I just want to be the priority again. I stood in front of the flower section at the grocery store this morning and thought about buying myself some. I had to go to the dentist to have some work done and I HATE the dentist. I stood there with my mouth numb and a raging headache and talked myself out of buying them because I was so sure he would send some today knowing I had to go and how I feel afterwards. Dumb me… I should have taken care of MYSELF and bought them!

      • tammy

        you hit it perfect i want to be the PRIORIY!! again too.

    • Time_You_Can't_Get_Back

      I would like to build on our communication.. Something that lacked way before the affair. After 6 years we still havent figured out how to effectively communicate with each other. If we can change that then I can feel that this is something worth fighting for. I basically need to see something that wasn’t there before the EA..

    • mahalia

      He would have to prove to me that he is with me because he wants to be–not because of the kids, or a sense of obligation, or because the OW dumped him. I need to know–somehow–that he recognizes the insecurity and triggers that got him into the affair in the first place. Otherwise, despite good intentions, it will likely happen again–a bit like a drug addict relapsing. He needs to put the time and energy into being friends with me, as a very base line thing. I don’t think there is any way to have frank, open communication if we aren’t interested in each other as people, and aren’t comfortable with each other. That takes focus. I would like him to acknowledge my pain, without trying to rationalize anything.

    • melissa

      All of the posts touch on something very important. For me, it’s also about answering my questions, which are haunting me. And it’s about communicating better and being able to talk about my emotions and fears without accusations of talking’psychobabble’ or worse. It’s not being accused of being a ‘nag’ when I say I feel insecure when he is away time and time again for work because I do not trust him anymore (and he knows why). It’s flowers on my birthday (and yes, I did buy them myself, he did not even think about it although I did get a card this time). It’s telling me he loves me, not holding those words back, telling me the OW is absolutely off the scene for ever and a day and he will keep to his word.

      What I am getting is his trying to include me in some of his trips, ‘phoning me when he’s on his way back from a meeting (sometimes), saying thank you more often for little things, enjoying the food I cook but what I really would like is him telling me the things about me that he loves rather than praising the things that I do.

    • Em

      Since I’ve been reading this blog (a couple of months) I’ve started to get a better understanding of how the EA happened and an affirmation that everything I have been feeling etc is “pretty normal” for betrayed people. He is very honest in answering questions about the past but how can I trust him to be honest about the present? My H has been kinder and more patient than ever before in our 26 years. He now lets me know when he’s going to be late home from work, texts me about day to day things when we are apart etc, but I need him to be genuinely sorry for what has happened. I need him to understand the emotional pain, the insecurity,the feelings of our past together being invalidated by his disloyalty. Although he has experienced unhappiness in our marriage, he has not experienced the physical pain and emptiness of a “broken heart”. We have both been keen to try and save the marriage because of our love of our family but this is no longer enough for me. I need to be the person he most wants to be with. I need to feel important to him as a person, not just as the mother of the family. This new topic is very timely as I have been starting to feel that we need some sort of “commemoration” to mark our decision to commit to each other, not just to our marriage and family if that is what we are going to do. I don’t know what it should be. An exchange of gifts, an out of the ordinary planned time together, something verbal……? It seems very optomistic to be thinking like this, as sometimes I feel that our whole situation is irretrievably hopeless.

    • melissa

      Onene thing I forgot to say earlier: first and foremost I want my husband to take responsibility for his affair and be able to not make the same mistake again. I want him to move away from his perception that ‘nothing happened’ as it is so wrong. I think the one thing that will drive me to leaving him is that if he cannot accept responsibility for what he’s done and stays unaware that every decision he makes which affects our marriage should be taken seriously, then there’s no point trying to make things better. Our therapist told me that it may take a long time (1-2 years, maybe more, she said). My husband did write me a note saying his behaviour was wholly inappropriate and he would not ever do it again but ten months later it was back to secrets and lies with the same OW. So has he really learned anything? Is he really taking responsibility for his actions? Sadly, I don’t think so and the steps he’s taking to make things better seem irrelevant.

    • NotBroken

      Right now I feel like I need to know that this will never happen again, I can not go through this again. Sure he can say he wont do again, or that I should trust him now, and he can even prove it through his actions, but I still feel insecure. So many people who contribute to this blog talk about how this is not the first time this happened, or how their spouse promised no contact with the OP but then they later found out they were lying. I just can’t relive this again. I wish I knew for sure that it would never happen again, I wish he could prove for me without a shadow of doubt that this is the last time he will break my heart. I’m afraid to work on my marriage and then in the future find out that he started talking to OW again or that he started with someone new. I don’t know what to do with this insane fear I have.

      • Doug

        Not Broken, I’m glad you chimed in and said what you have said because it seems to be a common thread with many of the responders. I have a question to follow up with…How is he supposed to prove these sorts of things to you? How can he prove it will never happen again other than telling you that it won’t? Is there something that he needs to show in his actions or what? I hope you aren’t taking this as being argumentative, as I don’t mean to be. I just really want to know what all the victims of an affair need from the cheating spouse to convince you that he/she ain’t going anywhere ever again. I guess it all comes back to trust doesn’t it?

        • NotBroken

          Doug, we have total transparency now with emails, voicemails, etc. We communicate through text when he is not home and we phone often. But I still have this nagging fear. I always think that he’ll just get better at lying than he was before. I was hoping that you could give me some input as to why you know you will never do this again. How do you know for sure that you wont stray again? Us betrayed spouses can only hope, because trust can be rebuilt but I don’t think it will ever go back to 100%. I will always carry a scar, and that scar will remind be to keep my eyes open and protect myself. So what can you tell us as the betrayers that will reassure us that this will not happen again? Not only reassure us, but absolutely guarantee that this will not happen again?

          • Doug

            NotBroken, I understand the fear you feel, I really do. Hopefully, you will come to a point where it will be non-existent. For me, I came to a point of total realization that I was screwing up bad, and that Linda and my family mean too much to me to jeopardize doing something like this ever again (see: https://www.emotionalaffair.org/recovering-from-an-affair-no-pain-no-gain/ ).

            Unfortunately, my word and my actions are all I have to prove/guarantee this. There’s not much more I (or anyone) can do. I imagine with time that the pain and the scars will heal and that nagging fear that the victims face will go away. However, that being said, it’s vitally important to continue to work on the marriage constantly, live by the boundaries that you have agreed to, and be observant of the signs should your marriage start to slip back to the way that it was.

      • Tanya

        I’ve completely blocked my husband out now, i’ve started divorce procedings and he’s just told me he thought everything could go back to how it was 3 years ago!! – even though he’s still seeing the OP!! he says its only because he gets lonely and I don’t know what thats like because the children live with me – I’m sorry but I just don’t see a way back, I couldn’t live constantly looking over my shoulder, jumping every time his mobile phone makes a sound, its sad as we’d been together for almost 20 years and have 3 wonderful children together but personally, I don’t see how it can be done. A friend of mine went though the same experience and she said to me that we had both made different choices as she had her husband back but then she said ‘there isn’t a day goes by without me thinking about it’, I can’t imagine the hurt ever going away at least if you start a new life, hopefully, the hurt will fade?????

    • TRUST YOU!

      Does it realy come down to tust? WE have all trusted before and look where we are today. Trust is’nt enough.

      Will he/she ever do it again? Only they will know.
      Can they ever realy make you feel that they wont? Probably not.

      I agree with Jeff, a shift in priorities will help the betrayed spouse feel better. Working on whats wrong with them is good. But it depends on why they are doing it. If this change in priorities and work they do to change themselves are done simply to make the betrayed spouse feel better, then are they realy working on the problem. At some point they will feel that they have done all this work and the betrayed spouse doesn’t see it. Or the betrayed spouse falls back into a pettern that helped lead to the affair, it will happen again. One of them will feel they have done all this work while the other hasn’t done enough.

      So, is all we are left with, FAITH?
      Faith that there are better days to come.
      Faith that we are good people, and bad things happen.
      Faith in ourselves.

      Sorry, but today I feel that no one will ever change who they are. I know I will never be that person for my spouse. To use a talk show host’s line..
      “Look at your hand. If you forgive it, will it change the number of fingers it has? If you paint your nails and be real nice to it, will it like you more?”
      People are who they are, if you still love them after what happened why expect them to change.
      What more do you want from them than to know, if they wanted to leave, they would have.
      Yes I want answers. Yes I want trust back. Yes I want for me to be more of a priority then the other person. Yes I want to know that this will never happen again. Yes I want my spouse to go to tharapy for issues that are in their head.
      Give you another line.
      Put all your want in one hand, and crap in the other. Which one will fill up faster?
      Wanting wont fill up your heart.


    • Donna

      I am like Not Broken.. I am so scared that when my husband comes out the other side that eventually he will fall again and break my heart. Trust is such a big thing to give, especially when you find out about EA 6 months ago, give some trust to only have it broken over and over again as husband is still seeing OW every week and speaking or texting every other day. I want change of phone numberson both ends, made private if they have too. I don’t really know.. I guess it is a time thing.

      • tammy

        i agree with you too. i guess i am not as strong as the others,the ones that believe they are going to win the loyalty of their spouse. i am scared too he says that he is sorry and that he wants to be with me but when it comes down to it will he really not see or talk to her again? will he really be able to do that when she asks him to be with her? i have been going through this for a while now and just when i was ready to give up and move on with my life and leave him so that i maybe have a chance at being happy again, he said that he want us to be together and work this all out. i hope i have made the right decision and that he really means it and i wont get hurt again.

    • Em

      Doug, it’s so hard to know what the cheating spouse can do to prove or even really show their ‘”new integrity”. If someone is unkind to you, you can usually tell whether or not they are being unkind again. If someone lies to you, how can you ever know that they are not lying again. I battle with this daily. It’s been four years since his admission of disloyalty. There have been a few hickups since but not consumated as far as I know. How can he prove his loyalty to me? He was the one who would tell me the world works on trust! He was the one who proved (along with OW) that he could not be trusted. It’s scary and maybe foolhardy to leave yourself open to more hurt. NotBroken, how do we find a balance? Do we protect ourselves and just tread water in our relationships with spouse or take the risk of plunging in and trying to move forward?

    • Christina

      It’s been 16 months since I caught my spouse in an EA. I would like to renew our vows but I would like him to do all the planning for it. I mentioned it last year a few months before our anniversary but it was forgotten about due to the holidays. I want this because to me, our vows were broken. The SANCTITY of our vows was broken and I want him to put forth effort to renew them. I don’t want an elaborate ceremony at all. Just us, our children and our pastor in the cafeteria of the local high school where we attend church.

      My therapist says that one reason I want this so much is because I’m disillusioned. No longer do I hold him above other men thinking that he is wiser, smarter, more loving, etc…I’ve realized that he’s human with all the faults that go along with that. He is no longer on that pedestal that I placed him. Our marriage isn’t above others and our love isn’t strong enough to conquer all and we aren’t living the fairy tale. That the absolute trust I had in us and our marriage, in him, was destined to fail from the beginning. Pretty disillusioned, right?

      It’s something I’m working on now but being disillusioned and riding myself of these girlhood fantasies of love and marriage are what is going to make our marriage stronger every single day. It takes acts of understanding, love, compassion and selflessness. It takes effort on both our parts. Acts and efforts trump trust because they are a reality we can see and feel. With this more mature view, I’d like to state our vows to each other and as an act of both love and contrition, I’d like him to arrange it.

    • Pauline

      I just found out about my husbands affair a month ago. The OW called my house because she hadn’t heard from him in a coupleof weeks. She thought he lived alone and that we were seperated. He met her online a year and a half ago and this past June he went to a visit his sister which lives 3000 miles away but he really went to meet this woman and they were intamate several times as she put it.
      Any way when she called she asked me if my H lived here and I sais yes ans she asked me if I was the ex-wife. So when hecame home from work I told him what happened and asked him to call the number and he wouldn’t. at this point I didn’t have all the details because the OW hung up. So I called her and told her my H was home now and asked her if she would like to talk to him and she said yes but he wouldn not get on the phone so I asked her what was going on and she told me that they had been talking for a year and ahalf and that he went to visit her. I asked him to leave and he did for close to three weeks and he came back home and the next day I did some snooping on his compuer and found thatthere was another woman that sent him ane-mail and said she missed him and pleasecall her. This woman lives in Ireland and she also has been talking to him for over a year and she said that he told her I left 2 years ago because he treated me badly and caused me to havean affair which I did but that was 25 years ago. so I found out about two woman withen 3 weeks apart. He informrd me lastnight that he really cares for her putting it nicely( loves her) He sais he fell out of love with me 3 years ago when we first talked and now he said he was trying to make himself not love me because it makes him feel like a fool for loving me because of the affair I had 25 years ago. he found out about the affair 10 years after it was ended. I am Heart Broken I love him so much even though the past three years have been hell with so many lies on his part about finances and everything else. He blames me for what he has done. I am so confused about so many things. Any suggestions? Pauline

    • Scott M.

      1. Ownership of the affair, that it was her CHOICE and to use the word affair.
      2. Ackowlwdgement that the pain inflicted was real, cut deep and will take long to heal.
      3. Proof of no more contact, access to cell phones, email, passwords, whereabouts, who she is with. gradually this need will fade but i reserve all rights to know.
      4. Full and complete truthful, honest answers to ALL questions for as long as I need answers.
      5. Indivdual/couples counseling until I deem it over.
      6. mandatory scheduling of together time- away from everyone. to laugh out loud and cry and argue and make up.
      7. Expectation of communication that she never withhold info again, ever, under any circumstances. I can ask as many times as I need.
      8. For her to know that the trust being rebuilt will not be in a day, it is on my schedule, not hers.
      9. That she believe she must change her belief system of right and wrong in a partnership.
      10. acknowledgemet that her reality was that of a fantasy, that marriages take hard work and that is willing and able to put in the effort.

    • melissa

      Scott, your hurt comes through loud and clear through your words but maybe you should think ‘we’ rather than ‘I’. I’ve tried all you suggest, using the ‘I’ and ‘my’ (my schedule, my hurt…) but I did not get anywhere. My husband refused to go for anymore counselling. He will not change his belief system. We do not share some of our individual values. He will not tell the whole truth, partly because his truth is not necesssarily my truth and probably because he’s angry with himself, embarrassed, has lost face, did not like being found out – whatever the reasons, I don’t think I’ll ever get it. This said, if you focus on unconditional love and try to recapture that between the two of you, the rest, as you say, may fade although you will both be two very different people. I’m not there yet and I have doubts and I’m scared and angry and sad every single minute of the day, it’s a really bumpy ride and I don’t know whether I’ll get to the other side but I’ve given myself a deadline (otherwise I mightgo on and on and on giving my H chances and losing my self-esteem) and we’ll see.

    • beth

      Oddly, I don’think I want him to do a damn thing. Or rather I am indifferent to the effort. I know I am responible at some level for all of this, but I find myself apathetic to that as well. Whatever I might have done or not done, he made the very worst choice for me and for our family he possibly could have. Whatever he might to do now will just smack of getting over on me because he knows I have one foot out the door.

    • Confused

      Is it ok to ask your husband to change cellphone numbers after the affair?? And get rid off all females on his phone even if they were really just friends?? HOw can I make him understand?

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