Don’t take anything the cheating spouse says personally, and at the same time, don’t believe everything the cheater says.

Cheating SpouseBy Linda

When I was first recovering from Doug’s emotional affair, I would search the internet and read books that offered good advice. Often the advice was to do this, or not to do that.

I wanted to follow the suggestions but it was difficult because I really didn’t understand the purpose of it.  I was uncomfortable following the suggestions because they went against my natural instincts.

For example, one recommendation that was difficult to follow was not to take anything the cheating spouse says personally, and at the same time, not to believe everything the cheater says.

This was hard because the cheater can become a master liar, and since most of us have always trusted what our spouse’s have told us in the past, it is natural to believe what they say now.

I touched on this a bit in a post last week, but wanted to expand on the subject a bit more today.  I want to discuss what happens during the affair process (based on our own experience) so as to validate that you shouldn’t take everything the cheater says personally.

The Cheating Spouse Story

Often before an affair begins both spouses are experiencing pain because they believe that they are unloved and uncared for.  They are beginning to feel hopeless because they don’t want to stay in this pain forever, but they don’t see a way out of it except to leave their marriage, which is something they don’t want to do for various reasons.

See also  Emotional Infidelity: Comparing the Affair Partner to the Spouse

Miraculously they meet someone who is also experiencing the same pain and problems that they are. They have found someone who can validate their pain, who understands what they are experiencing and can make them feel that they are not at fault.  In their minds they have found their savior.

Here is where their “story’ begins.  During all the discussions that the affair couple has about their unhappy marriages, they begin to develop a “story.”  This story alleviates the guilt and justifies their actions.

They magnify the negative aspects of both their marriages and their spouse while magnifying the positive attributes of the lover and the affair relationship.  In essence they rewrite history.

Things that really weren’t a big problem in their marriage now get blown out of proportion and become major issues.  The cheating spouses also believe that they have all told their spouses about these issues, and of course the spouse didn’t care enough do anything to make them better.

By the time their affair is exposed they have rehearsed this “story” in their heads and with each other hundreds of times and it has become ingrained in their brains.

The betrayed spouse has become suspicious that something is not right so they confront the cheating spouse about their suspicions.  In many cases the cheater will deny that anything is going on, but yet they will use this opportunity to tell their “story.”

They begin to articulate with such confidence and persuasion all of the things that they have been unhappy about during their entire marriage.  All of this unhappiness is centered on the betrayed spouse and the marriage.

See also  Keeping Things Secret Within an Emotional Affair

The betrayed spouse is blindsided by all of this because the cheating spouse has never brought these issues up before with so much conviction and detail.

In our case I heard the words “I love you, but I am not in love with you.” “We have grown apart.”  “We are coexisting, and living as roommates.”  “We have nothing in common and don’t spend any time together anymore.”  “I was always the low man on the totem pole.” I was in complete shock because Doug was not very good at expressing his feelings to me, so for him to express it so earnestly made me truly believe his story.

I am not saying that a portion of his story was not true. I had some of the same feelings, but it was the way he presented them to me.  It was so one sided and magnified.

When he finished his story I wondered if he was ever happy in our marriage.  Why did we have children?  Why did we even get married in the first place?

Our problems were created together – one issue causing another until it snowballed out of control. To look at it from the perspective of what he had told me was completely inaccurate and unfair.

The Most Horrific Sentence in the English Language: I Love You, But I Am Not in Love with You.

Listen to What the Cheater is Saying

After thinking about the previous example, I hope that you can understand why you shouldn’t take everything personally.  However, you should listen to what the cheater is saying.  Really listen.  This may be an opportunity to validate their feelings and express how you feel in return.

See also  Why Men Don’t Like to Talk About Their Feelings

I don’t mean by defending yourself or trying to tell your spouse what they did wrong, but to communicate that you feel the same way.  For instance you could say: “It upsets me that we have become like roommates. I miss spending time doing the things we used to do. What can we do to make it better?”

When they say they love you but are not in love with you, tell them you understand how they may feel this way, and you might ask them: “What do you need to make you feel loved?  Just what is love to you?” Use what they say as an opportunity to explore what is happening in your relationship.

This is your chance to do what the affair partner (AP) has done.  The AP has made your spouse feel loved and cared for by listening to their feelings and telling them how he/she feels some of the same feelings.

Taking things personally after the affair can really stop any effort that is made to improve a marriage, but looking at their story objectively can help to pull the cheating spouse away from their story and towards a better relationship.

    33 replies to "Don’t Take the Cheating Spouse’s Story Personally"

    • melissa

      I think you’ve perfectly described on one very common scenario, where the cheater and OP are both in unhappy marriages but there are probably many other stories.

      In my case, I think my husband was not necessarily that unhappy in our marriage but he was looking for validation and admiration and that’s what the OP was giving him (in return for the same validation and help with her career). In part, it stemmed from his low self esteem and inability to communicate with me about his needs (still the case, I fear).

      The OW got divorced during their EA and I think that made my H ‘mirror’ her unhappy feelings about her own marriage. At that time, he started mentioning divorce to me without ever giving me a reason, which was very distressing as I just did not know why he was considering this.

      So it might be worth looking at the different scenarii and delve deeper into why the cheaters went into an EA: lack of self-esteem? Boredom? ‘Unmet’ need to feel cared for? Sexual issues?

      • Doug

        Melissa, Yes you are correct that this is but one common scenario, but don’t you think that (in your case) his need for validation and admiration may have caused unhappiness in the marriage? I agree that it would be an interesting topic to delve into further. I think many on this site have mentioned the reasons they THINK caused their spouse’s EA, but are they the REAL reasons?

    • ruth

      In my case the ow was already divorced. She had been married twice and worked with my h. She told him that she was going to help him fix his marriage but instead she fell in love with him. She called me up and told me that my husband was sleeping with every women that he worked with and she was only his friend and wanted me to know what kind of man he was. I told my h and he told me that she only said that to me because she was in love with him and wanted me to file for divoce. He continued his affair for the next 10 months. He had every oppertunity to leave but never did. He did tell me that he was addicted to her and she was addicted to him.

    • ruth

      I guess I shouldn’t of taken it personaly. But whe you are in that situation you cant help it. I sit back now and think back of all the things that were said and I dont take it personaly because now I realize that he was in a fog. Does it still make me mad? YOU BET IT does, but and this is a big but if I dont start finding way to get over this and move forward I will be living in limbo for the rest of my life and I am worth so much more. WE are worth so much more. After about one year of no contact with her he went to see her (behind my back) He told me that he needed to fix it and to have complete closeure. For the first time I truely believe him and I do believe him that its finally over. You see I didnt believe it during that whole year at all. He has never been honest with me, for the first time he was. Am I a fool to believe him probably but like anything else time will tell. I am not willing to let 35yrs down the drain for a mistake. I just want us to move forward and not take each other for granted anymore.

    • Yuki

      I understand that I shouldn’t take it personally, but it is sometimes really hard, especially since I have copies of many of the emails. I can see in black and white what they thought about everything. My husband and I had a fight about it again last night.

      During the affair, he grew to regret marrying me and told her that many times. He has since said that he was “sick” and not thinking straight. And I am slowly coming to accept that.

      But all it takes is one little thing to set my mind spinning and then I slide back into that hole again. Yesterday, he was sharing photos of our family online and was so proud of everyone’s comments on how smart and goodlooking our family is, and what wonderful attitudes we have passed on to them. He was beaming. It made me think of something we shared when we were having our children. One of our inside jokes was that we were so lucky to have found each other because we were such a good baby factory. So yesterday, I couldn’t help but remark, “I guess it’s lucky that you had your babies with me.” He just looked at me funny, like he didn’t agree with me, and said nothing.

      Now I know I stated it a little differently than we used to before, and the emphasis was on “with me,” implying it wouldn’t have been so good with her. So maybe I brought it on myself, but his reaction sent me into a tailspin. I thought, “he really still regrets marrying me.” And we ended up in a huge argument.

      So yes, while I agree that we shouldn’t take their story personally, it’s very hard not to. I guess I just need to keep working at it.

    • nony

      This article so clearly states what I am feeling right now. He had to go away on a business trip for a couple of days which allowed me time to be alone with my thoughts and not say every stupid thing I am thinking and ending up in a fight. Since his first night away, he has sent texto’s “thinking of you”, “goodnight sweetheart”, and even an email with I love you in the subject.

      I honestly don’t know how to react. I know he wants me to say those things back, but I don’t feel like he is my love anymore. I feel like I don’t know him. I know some things, a lot of important things about him, but the things I trusted in him, the fact that we belonged to each other through thick and thin, are no longer giving me strength to believe in him.

      I am being nice and kind, but I am happy in a way to have a bit of distance. For the first time, I am thinking that he could be talking or texting her every night over there. He will tell me he didn’t (which may very well be true), but how do I really know? He has told so many lies. He initially said that she was taking a year off for maternity leave (oh yes, she’s been pregnant since they met this summer, although she didn’t know that at the time, with her second child no less!). Then I discovered that in fact, she would be back by May. Lies, lies, and more lies. How can I not take what he says personally.

      Any little criticism, which before, I might have listened to, I simply cannot stand from him. I don’t know how to not feel slighted. For the moment, although I am being nice, and even feeling kindly towards him for the most part, my heart and soul are wary of his words and gestures (he even called me twice yesterday). I know he is trying, but I don’t know and cannot know what is in his heart. His ‘story’ broke it along with the trust I gave him for so many years.

      • melissa

        What you’re feeling is totally normal, don’t despair.

    • Stephanie

      My husband and I are making progress in our recovery but I am left struggling with one thing. His OW contacted me on facebook (thats where they reconnected, go figure!) asking for advice from me on how to help my husband through the very deep depression he was in at the time. As much as I wanted to tell her to just go away and he would be fine, I did not do so. Instead I wrote her back and we corresponded for a few days. She had the nerve to ask me to not tell my husband that we talked because she felt it wasnt right and that she was betraying him. I told her I wouldnt but ended up having to because she told me they had been communicating through text messages. This was something I was not aware of, so of course I confronted my husband and he admitted it. I felt betrayed all over again, I had just asked him less than a month ago to NOT exchange numbers with her yet he did. In the end she thought I lied to her and blocked me on Facebook. She forwarded my husband our conversations and while he did not see how I lied to her, he didnt defend me either. Last night I knew he was talking to her on Facebook and he let me read what she said, she requested (not in so many words) that he delete the emails because she didnt want anyone to accidentally see them. I knew she meant me, who else would she be talking about, certainly not her husband because that would mean he would have to hack his way into my husbands email. My husband told her he would delete them if she wanted him to. My dilemma is why does he defend that she can make her own decisions yet wont defend me, his own wife? I am hoping to talk to his counselor about this next tuesday,maybe he has some answers or at least get them.

    • ingoodtimesandbad

      Thanks Linda. You really hit the nail on the head for me today. It’s been a year since D-day and about 6months since OW called things off. However, they still work everyday together and there is no way for me to know if it is completely over. He is back home after being away for one month. I asked him to chose. I didn’t want him to be with her sexually and then come home to me. I caused them to end things so he is at home but still not happy. He stated in the begining that our marriage was over 2 years ago. Like that gives him the okay to have an affair. It was news to me that we were over. I knew we were having problems but like you said, everything is exaggerated in their minds. I wish I would have found this site when I was in the beginning of this nightmare. It’s not the roller coaster ride like it was in the beginning but now like I’m living in limbo.
      I don’t think we are over but he doesn’t want to talk about “us” anymore. He is only here for the kids. He wants a divorce, he claims but thinks I should be the one to get the lawyer. He doesn’t want to look like the bad guy. I asked why he didn’t ask for a divorce two years ago. He said it was because he was cheap. Like he didn’t think he could afford to divorce me back then. I don’t know very many people who get divorce and not end up financial strapped. Well, to top it all off, my hours and pay have been cut from work. I’m looking at it being a good thing because now I can spend more time at home with the kids and him. I was often told that I put him last. Now, I have the energy to do the things I liked doing for him. However, this is now making him more anxious because money is going to be tighter than it was before if he tries to move out. It messes with his plans of trying to break away with minimal damage to our finances.
      Even though he said that he wants a divorce, he is still at home doing nice things for me but refusing to talk about us. He obviously is still hurting and wanting things to be different at home but doesn’t know how to get things to change.
      So I’m confused on how to talk with him to get him to open up. I’m used to getting defensive. He has called me lazy because I’m not working like I used to. OW was working 3 jobs trying to make end meet. So compared to her, I do look lazy. But she has no kids. Taking care of three kids is a job in itself. I really don’t want to be compared to her anymore. I still bring home as much or a little less than my husband. I just don’t have to work as many hours as he does. But I also take care of the house, laundry and groceries. So I feel like I’m still pulling my share of the load around here. I feel blessed that we both have jobs and thankful for all that we do have. So any suggestions on how to respond when he gets mad about me not working or calls me lazy?? I want to treat him like a friend but it’s hard when he is so negative.

      • Doug

        ingoodtimesand bad, I know it is important to treat him like a friend, but he has to respect you and by his comments he is not. Think about how he is treating you and the things he is saying, would you allow someone like that to talk to your children that way. There comes a time when you have to stand up for yourself and tell him how you feel. It sounds like he is trying to manipulate you by trying to make you believe that you are responsible for his unhappiness, he is the one who got himself into this mess. He needs to figure out a way to get out of it. I wonder have you read the book “Love Must Be Tough” or are you seeing a therapist, an objective party may really help you focus on what you need to do to save this relationship. Linda

        • ingoodtimesandbad

          Thanks Linda,

          No, I don’t tolerated it when he calls me lazy. He doesn’t always treat me this way. I think when he is feeling most insecure, he lashes it out on me. So instead of me defending myself and trying to argue my case, I think I need to step back and just listen to what he is saying. He calls me lazy because that was part of the story he told OW. He hasn’t always felt this way. He used to complain that I was working too much and putting my job before my family. He always felt last on my attention list. Like you said, these problems we have were there but are exaggerated by him to justify his behavior. It’s easy to communicate with OW when you don’t have kids, bills, and household problems to discuss also. Just when and where the next time together will be. It was a vacation from his home of reality.

          So, I don’t let him start fights like he used to but I think he starts to attack my character to get me to fight. He is feeling guilty but can’t express it. I do deserve better treatment. I don’t tolerate my kids insulting each other, I won’t tolerate it from my husband. I don’t want my kids to think it’s okay to be treated that way. I don’t think he truly believes what he is saying. If he was that unhappy, why stay?? I think he even feels he deserved to be dumped by me because he can’t do it.

          I haven’t read that book. I’ll add it to my library list of things to read. I did see a therapist in the beginning. I was waiting to see if he was going to go through with a job transfer before starting back up again. Probably start up again next month. Like you said about Doug, my husband is not very good at opening up about his emotions. The only one I can change is me and how I react to him. Letting go of the anger and moving forward. I still have my good days and bad. This site helps give me the encouragement to keep at it. He as told me the line also about still caring about me and that he loves me, just not in love with me. So your comment about not believing their “story” help me realize that he is hurting but can’t express it. We have a lot to learn and I hope that we can work things through. It has just been 1 year since I found out. I’m not the same person I was then. I accept that I can’t be the one that makes him happy. He has to find that inside himself. I also accept that he may have to leave to figure that out. He definitely has been sleeping better than he did last year at this time when he was hiding his affair. He had many more headaches and stomach aches trying to keep all the lies straight.

          I’m just so eager to get things better and wanting him to commit that I get frustrated. So thanks for being here. It’s nice to be able to talk with people who are still trying to make things work even though their spouses made this huge mistake. Not all my friends or co workers can understand why I would bother to stay in this relationship. I just don’t want to throw 21 years away so fast. I don’t think the grass is greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water and take care of it. I choose to stay with the one I promised to love. But it can’t go back to where it was before. That is why I’m trying to learn how to communicate better with my husband than I did before. We wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today if we would have learned how to do that better.

      • Jackie

        Just felt I had to say something to you, because I have been there, and am still fighting these issues like yours. It sounds like H is still in the fog. You’re confused because he is confused. He is there at home knowing it is the right thing to do and the right place to be. He feels guilty shame for what he has done or is still doing, but has trouble stopping.

        I like to think of affairs as a kind of addiction. Only the drug is the other person, the high is from chemicals formed in the brain. It is hard to stop doing what you know deep inside is wrong. The affair makes him feel good and alive again. He attacks because he feels shame for doing something he knows is wrong but can’t seem to stop. The high on the affair is a powerful drug.

        H will find anything wrong with you or the marriage to justify what he is doing. That is to make you feel it is your fault, so you won’t make him feel more guilty, or shameful any longer. Deep down inside he knows it is wrong.

        You are not the problem. It is not because you don’t work hard enough. Not that you are not as pretty. Not that you are lazy. Don’t believe what he is saying. He is attacking you because it turns his attention away from his problem. He is trying to make you feel bad so he doesn’t have to look at himself. Don’t accept these attacking words. You know you are doing your best to maintain your sanity, take care of the kids, and trying to keep your marriage intact. This is his problem! It is not you!

        If you look as him like an alcoholic, or someone addicted on drugs, it makes it easier to see why he might be saying and doing what is is doing.

        I don’t think he really wants a divorce, because he hasn’t done anything himself about it. But he also doesn’t know how to fix things either. Sometimes giving up is easier that feeling all that shame and guilt.

        Read,”Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie. It has helped many people in my Affairs Network group. I think it will help you. It has helped me to understand a little better the dynamics in play here.

        Take care of yourself and your kids. You are not the problem. Your H has a problem but still seems in denial. He is still blaming others for his problem, particularly you. Yes your marriage had problems, they all do. But what is he doing to help fix them? Having an affair is an escape so you don’t have to look at the problems. He has to come to this conclusion himself. He will be defensive and angry if you act as if you know what is best.

        It really helped me to stop talking with my H for a while, about the affair or our marriage. I said to my H, “I just want us to treat each other with kindness and caring.” It seemed to help. Time will tell.

        It is so hard to talk to H if he keeps getting defensive and angry. Keep your talks short and sweet. Be the kind of wife you used to be. Loving and caring. Try not to say things that will cause defensiveness for now. This is a lot harder than it sounds.

        Just felt I has to say something to you. I didn’t like the way you seemed to be blaming yourself. It felt very familiar to me. I’m still in limbo like you. Love yourself, you deserve happiness.

        Good Luck!

        • ingoodtimesandbad

          Hi Jackie,

          Thanks so much for you reply.
          I did finish reading Linda’s suggestion of Love is Tough. It was very informative. I could see myself and our marriage on those pages. I’ll have to get the book you suggested next. I’m still trying to get through the book Boundaries.

          You read all this stuff and it does make you understand how this bad stuff happens but then it just makes me want to fix it. But he hasn’t read any of it, nor will he, so he isn’t on the same page as me.

          I had stopped talking about the affair after he moved back in. It just would set him off. Things have been going well, along as you ignore the pink elephant in the room. We got back on a routine. He was still claiming he was going to move in January. On New Year’s Eve, I found out he had changed his mind. Only because I asked. That’s when I asked for him to pay half of our household expenses since he was staying. I figured, that gave him an out if he wasn’t willing to stay. So the month of January had been going fine except for my hours being cut and him making the comment of me being lazy. Really, I don’t believe him. I know he is still acting out but it drives me nuts that he hasn’t gotten over it yet. He expected me not to care about the affair but he can’t get over the guilt and shame because he refuses to admit it. But he can’t see that.

          So where to go from here?? I was working on me and trying to improve myself. We were back to having sex, doing things nice things for each other but he won’t let me touch his hand in the car when were driving like I used to or kiss him on the lips, he turns his head. So I feel like I’m being used with him still staying here getting on the perks of a husband but not acting like a husband. Where do you draw the line??? I haven’t slept with him since that last night I tried to discuss what he wanted to do. Is it wrong for me to hold that back. It’s not that I don’t want to have that back but he still seems to be in that fog still. I don’t want to be a doormat. I am doing like you said and not letting him call me names or be disrespectful. I do think he is still confused and doesn’t want to rush into a divorce because he really didn’t want that. He thinks I’m forcing the issue. I am because I don’t want to live in limbo. I guess hoping it will wake him up from the fog.

          So I thought I would try the tough love and back off. Not be clingy and desparate. Keep my thoughts to myself. But it’s hard to do this and not make him think I’m just mad because I didn’t get what I wanted from him. I’m finding it hard to decide how tough but nice am I supposed to be??

          Do I let him stay here but treat him respectful but not have sex with him? Do I tell him that I can’t live like this anymore and ask him to leave?? He needs to deal with the reality of the choices he made before we can truly move foward.

          How long ago was your H’s EA?? How long do we wait?? I see small changes in his behavior and gives me hope one miniute and the next I’m thinking the only reason he is doing this is because he is planning things behind my back.

          • Jackie

            What is it about not holding hands and not being able to kiss on the lips? My H did the exact same thing! It feels like a constant rejection, doesn’t it. I hate the limbo too and kept trying to want to fix the marriage. What I realize is that you can’t fix the marriage until, your H fixes himself. He is now grieving what he thinks is his lost love. I know, I know what does that say about all those years you two spent together? Doesn’t that mean anything to him? I’m your wife for goodness sake!

            It must be the fog, confusion, chemicals in the brain. The book,”Love and Limerence, by Dorothy Tennov, explained it well. It is like a chemical dependence addiction. You get withdrawal symptoms, and depression. This book was actually recommended by my H. He thought it best explained what he was going thru.

            Yes, I have read many books, as do most victims of affairs do. Why don’t the betrayers read the books? Mostly because they have trouble looking at themselves, feeling the shame, and accepting that they did something they know deep down inside is wrong. Why can’t he just admit he made a mistake, and try to fix things? I realize for my H, that he is so confused and depressed that he just wants to be left alone all the time. Pressure to fix the marriage that he is confused about, seem to overwhelm him and makes him want to end the marriage instead. I know it is maddening for you to wait. How long do you wait? I really don’t know. You have kids, and want them to have a healthy family. For now do what you can to keep you and the kids healthy. And as they say,”Work on you and your issues”. Let your H work on his.

            Your story sounds so much like mine, I feel we can easily relate. I believe my H was going thru a midlife crisis when his EA started two years ago. He also works with this woman. He said he wasn’t looking, which I believe, but he seemed to like good feelings of the EA so much he allowed himself to “fall in love”. I think this is when the addiction started. Soon after he was rejected by her, because she said,” It was wrong. Go back to your wife and kids.” H became severely depressed. He was mildly depressed before the EA and was questioning things like fears of getting old, feeling of not being needed by the kids any longer, feeling that all he was wanted for was the money he made. H had been slowly withdrawing into himself for years before. He seemed unable to talk about issues with me, or even want to look at them too deeply. I think the fear of being not needed any longer and getting old, was scaring the hell out of him.

            H still couldn’t stop the feelings towards the OW even though he knew it was all a fantasy, that it was now all in his head. He refused to talk about the OW and us and the depression. It felt as if we had two elephants in the room, the OW and depression. It seemed every time I tried, he became angry and blaming me and the kids for over a year. He never moved out, but was tempted to many times. He stayed because we both thought it was better for the kids. I still feel we did the right thing under the circumstances. If he had been more verbally abusive towards me or the kids, I would have asked him to move out.

            To add fuel to H’s depression, within one year a couple of very close family members died.

            My main regret over the two years, was not standing up to him enough. Normally my H is a wonderful gentle, kind considerate, person. But during and after the rejection, I felt he was acting like an angry adolescent. That is, he was disrespectful, inconsiderate, angry, silent. I had two teenagers at the time, and H was the worst. He wouldn’t tell us when he was going out, or when he was coming back. No hello, or good bye. He had numerous outburst,mostly towards me, some towards the kids. I was just so shocked at the way he was behaving, I just was unable to react fast enough, because of my confusion, I remained silent.

            As a result of the two years of crazyness, and our inablility to talk about the EA and his depression, I have major trust issues.

            Just last week, I have been able to finally talk some about what I was going thru for the last two years. This is very new. H is still distant, and very lost. He says now he is just trying to do the right things. Which is good. But he has no feelings towards me or anyone lately…he feels like a blank shell most of the time. Sometimes I feel the tenderness that I once loved. But most of the time it feels lonely and empty around him. Sometimes we laugh. But mostly he wants to be left alone.

            I’m hoping this helps you a little, because I feel I have been where you are. If I can help make your journey a little easier, I will feel some good will come from all this. As is, I have learned so much about life, love, and acceptance thru all this. I am a stronger person, even if my relationship and marriage is still in a dysfunctional state.

            Since your h isn’t telling you about what is going on, do you know if he has slept with the OP? I had major issues and asked him out right if I needed to check with my OBgyn for STDs. When he said “No” , it was a relief, but because he keeps so many secrets about her or other women, I still am never completely sure. There is that trust issue.

            Perhaps your H feels like mine in that he says he is not rejecting me, but he needs to have time and space to be on his own. If time and space allow him to reflect on himself, who he wants to be, and what he wants, that would be a good thing. I have trouble though when all my H does is play games on his computer, when I feel he could be reading books to get himself back together. Is this a male thing, many of my friend’s H use computer games to relax also.

            Sorry, I wrote so much. Hope it can help you.

            • ingoodtimesandbad

              Hi Jackie,

              Thanks. It does help to talk to someone going through similiar circumstances. I do think it is an intimacy issue with the hand holding and kissing. I don’t think they love themselves right now so they don’t want someone else showing them love they don’t think they deserve. My husband has also suffered from depression. He lost his dad when he was young, abused by his step father and alcoholic mother, and sexually abused and beaten by a stranger all before age of 8. Of course, I didn’t find this all out until after this first affair. Yes, both affairs were sexual. I think more EA though with this last one. Hense, the grieving process of losing a friend. He told me he didn’t love her but that she needed him. Like I didn’t?? I have been tested. He never liked using condoms with me but apparently he was to nervous about bringing something home that he did with them. He used sex and pornography to help bring him out of his depressed moods. I think then watching all those fantasy sex acts made him think that’s what our sex life should be like. Very distorted. One of our big fights this summer after he had moved out was that I accused him of having a sexually addiction problem that he needed to get help for. He didn’t like that being thrown in his face.

              So he seems to be making a better effort at home. Not getting as angry and frustrated with the kids. That was one of our other issues. He would be hard on the kids and I would step in. He thought I was undermining his authority and I thought he was going overboard. Things are at least better on that front. So I do understand how easy it is to be tempted when your perception of home is one of turmoil and stress. I just wished he could look at things through my eyes!!

              Something you said about letting him fix the damage rang with me last night. Like you said, we do all the reading trying to understand and grasp where we went wrong. When we didn’t anything wrong. The issues we had are the same issues every married couple goes through. Our H choose to fix their problems on their own trying to meet only their needs. So why the Hell do we try to make ourselves crazy trying to figure them out???? So, I’m stopping or at least going to do my best to stop. I’ve decided to let him stay for now. Like you said, as long as he doesn’t become abusive. I won’t stand for that disrespect. Let him figure this out. Also, I have to believe it’s over with her in order to let him stay here. So even though I’m giving up trying to fix us (his job, not mine) I will be observant as much as I can be. The rest I have to give to God!

              So, you and I have to try our best to put the “fun” back into our dsyfuntional families!!! My husband also uses the on line games to relieve stress. (most addictive personalities seem to trade one addiction for another. The guy who started AA was a sex addict.) So, computer games, without talking with other people on them, seems less harmless than an affair!! I play them with him. If you can’t beat them, join them!! There is bound to be a game you might find fun. And they have plenty of free sites so it doesn’t cost anything. So when he is up playing until two am, I try to have him in bed next to me. Sometimes he’ll stop earlier if I turn mine off to go to bed. Otherwise, he might stay up for hours, (again his choice) It’s better than having him watch porn!!

              My husband left today without saying goodbye,while I was upstairs getting ready. He likes doing that. He tried to call me about a half hour later. I let the voicemail pick it up. I’m glad he is calling but I’m not going to be that needy person just wanting and waiting for any kind of attention. I went to the library and picked up some good beach reads for me. (It’s snowing here and below freezing temps!)Plan on watching a movie and getting take out with the kids tonight. He won’t get home until 10:00. My kids are 15, 13, and 11. I’m going enjoy the time with them (how fun with almost three teenagers!) while they are young. My therapist once said I should write a book!! He said not many women would put up with a husband that has acted this way. You seem to be good at writing, maybe you should try!!

              My H also has his own space issue. I think that’s part of the depression also. I never was clingy before. He had his hobbies over the years. It’s just when their hobbies include affairs when I mind!!

              Anyway, thanks again for your insight. Have fun tonight. With or without him.

    • Pat

      Lived with a man for 15 years because of our son. Married after that for 8 years. Known him to be involved with phone sex, promiscuity prior to our living together; known him to have online sex; be involved an viewer of beastiality; found his online lover;….probably so much more….I just feel so so bad. I feel so so hopeless over this situation. He stated he had remorse and ended this last online lover relationship. I don’t believe it. I just feel so so bad. How can I be so so low in my self esteem to put up with this? We have a fake marriage and union…no one knows the hell I feel….I feel so so hopeless about this man. I feel I don’t even know him. I found out all of this blatantly as a “discovery” this past summer. It was so shocking, although I knew he was like a male whore when I met him. I found out that he is online chat rooms. I posed as his lover and he responded so affirmatively toward this fake. I found out just what was going on. I initiated a divorce…felt sorry for him, dropped it…feel the tension now…feel extreme mistrust. He is a traveling business man….I am so so unhappy. What keeps me in this? I feel sorry for him. Why? Ishould be feeling sorry enough to get out of this…reason tells me….He has a way of acting like we will be together for a 100 years….he gets financial things going that makes me feel so trapped….Somewhere I think I will end this…I don’t feel he is ever honest. I have beenin relationships-4 which all ended in partners’ infidelity….It sure is a sad situation….I am almost 60…what a miserable life I lead………

    • Jackie

      Wow, Linda, I could have written that article myself. Even though the OP did not join H in his EA, I found the blame on me and the marriage had the most destructive effect on me. It made me question, was I so blind not to see all the problems we had? I felt we had issues, but they were not expressed with as much feelings before the affair. I would have thought if they were such important issues, that H would have made more effort for us to resolve them. I always talked with him when I felt there were important issues that we needed to resolve between us.

      Generally H way of dealing with conflict was to give in, because it didn’t seem important enough. During the EA it seemed extremely magnified. Blame of me and the marriage seemed to go hand in hand with me trying to talk about the OP or marriage. It seemed to be set off any time I questioned what he was doing with her, or wanting to work on the issues between us.

      It felt like the best defense was an offense. That is, when H felt bad or guilty or shame, he would attack me or the marriage with blame. It really felt so unfair. All I wanted was to know what was going on, for us to communicate like we used to. The blaming and anger, made me learn to stop talking to H, because I didn’t want to hate him for treating me so unfairly, especially since he was the one who chose to have an EA.

      The EA was destructive, to the marriage, but the blame seem to make it almost impossible for to try to work things out. I supposed that is pattern affairs cause. Damage of trust and communication.

    • Jackie

      “(most addictive personalities seem to trade one addiction for another. The guy who started AA was a sex addict.)”

      I surely agree on this one. My H used to have a drug issue and alcohol problem when he was in high school and college days. I feel he has always been slightly depressed and was self medicating himself with drugs and alcohol. He clearly is addicted to games on the computer now, but I feel it is one of the less harmful addictions he has.

      Will your H go to a therapist? Mine has off and on. Mostly off. But I found it really helped him gain an outside perspective, when normally he keeps all his thoughts in his head. He stopped again, unfortunately.

      Have you tried marriage counseling? We did right after he announced the EA, but it was difficult because he still was so much in the EA, that he kept so much secret. I think marriage counseling is not always the best route when the betrayer is still very active in the affair. He just goes thru the motions without his heart in it. Sometimes it makes them lie more, and H hated it. I thought it was helpful, cause it allowed me to find out more truths, that he was unwilling to share otherwise.

      Have a fun weekend with your kids! I only have one at home now, other off in college, but I am still having fun with him.

      • ingoodtimesandbad

        No, can’t get him to go to counseling. He has always refused even before affairs. (I tried to get him to get help with his depression) He did see a priest a few times after the first affair. That did seem to help but he has even given up going to church. I started seeing a therapist after this 2nd affair. It has helped me. Just wish he would give it a chance. Instead, he is swimming in his own thoughts and perceptions of reality.

        I do think the kids ground him a little back to reality. He says he is staying for them. Well, six months ago he was willing to walk away from them, not see them or call them. I think the fog is lifting but I don’t know if it will totally. So, I feel I need to take care of myself so I don’t go crazy just because he is.

        I wish you the best. May God help us both!!!

        • Jackie

          I really feel the depression is the problem. Will he, or can you talk with his doctor? I really feel the Affairs are H way to fix the bad feelings he feels about himself, and his unhappiness. Affairs give one a euphoric high. I really feel it is a form of self medication.

          My H wouldn’t talk about his depression either, but we may be starting to address the problem lately. Don’t know how long it will last though, or will he begin to shut me out again.

          How are your kids taking all this craziness? What have you told them? I grew up with lots of secrets in my childhood which caused all sorts of problems, and I didn’t want that in my own family. But this affair thing is something I just don’t think is healthy for them to know about at this time, although I think my now adult daughter suspects, but won’t say. She respects and trusts my not telling her. But I think all this has caused a distancing with her dad, cause he has been acting what she says,”Unpredictable”.

          I’ve just said he is going thru something now, and is also depressed.

          • ingoodtimesandbad

            I got him to go to the doctor last year, for his blood pressure problem. He put him back on medication. He even asked the doctor if he thought he might need something for depression and he kind of poo poo the idea, saying unless he really wanted something, lets work on his blood pressure problem first. He hates taking pills. He took the medication for his blood pressure for awhile but even stopped taking that. He managed to get off his medication after he was exercising regularly and lost 60lbs. So, that’s what he is trying to do now. Get back on the exercise routine. I told the doctor I didn’t like when he was exercising before because he was doing 4hrs a day. Probably a good thing he didn’t put him on antidepressants. It’s very possible that my H might be bipolar. Putting him on that if he is could be very dangerous. So, the best person to put him on something is the one person he refuses to see, a therapist. I do believe the affair was his self medication because he stopped working out. He needed his “high”

            My kids are doing okay right now. They were having a hard time when he moved out for that month. It was at least during summer break so it didn’t effect their school work. My son was at a summer camp at the time. I’ve had more problems with him. Plus he is 13 and has that to deal with also. I think they are hopeful that things are going to work out because he is back home and life is back to normal for them, at least, somewhat. He had told them that he was going to move in January. My oldest told him that he would be a bad father if he left. She let him know her feelings. He was upset that she talk with him that way but I was proud of her. In the midst of everything, I think they know that he was with someone else, just from overhearing conversations I was having with my support of family and friends. I told them that there dad made some mistakes but we are all human, and we need to still love him. I told them not to worry about him moving away. If he did, we would deal with that when the time came. I know I will take them to counseling if they want but so far, I’m hoping that this is just a bad dream for them. They have brought him back to reality. They were angry at first with him but now have been trying to get back to the way things were before this nightmare started. They know that divorce has been brought up and my husband thinks that since they have friends whose parents are divorced that they will be fine. That’s how he talked in the middle of his affair fog. Life would just be fine for him. We all would just adjust.

            I I came from a divorced family. My mom ended up marrying my dad’s best friend. How’s that for a screwed up childhood. I definitely didn’t want that for my kids. That’s probably why I’m fighting so hard to keep our family together. My mom had divorced and remarried, and now again separated from my step-dad. The grass is nnot greener on the other side! Both my parents had affairs. It almost feels like if you don’t handle these issure right with your own marriage, you pass your sins down to your kids.

    • Jackie


      Exercise is good, but 4 hours a day is a bit excessive, I agree. Looks to me that you have been doing your part by not getting involved in affairs yourself. You have at least given your kids a view of what a responsible strong adult looks like. One who is there for them. Yeah, so you’ve probably been crying and reaching out a lot too, but that is a healthy outlet under the circumstances, as long as you don’t get stuck there.

      I also fear the antidepressants. They do have lots of unpleasant side effects. H has tried at least 4 kinds over 2 years, singly or together. Seems to allow him to function better, and not be so overwhelmed with everyday life. But he still is in limbo. But this last month things do seem to be calming down enough for me to feel safer to talk with him again. As H says he doesn’t know who he is any longer. This might be part of the midlife crisis thing. In fact, I think the affair was/is also part of it.

      The moving out, makes it harder for the kids to ignore. Harder to overlook that something is clearly wrong with the family. I said to H, “What you choose and the things you do, affects the whole family”. It is sad that in the fog, cheaters just can’t see the damage they are doing to themselves, their spouse, and the kids. They are not in their right minds! Like in any addiction, it isn’t easy to stop, even if you want to. Best just not to go there in the first place. Unfortunately, H still needs to learn that.

      Hopefully H will realize how much he can lose if he doesn’t fix his issues. One of the affair doctors said it best, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting to get different results.” Having affairs are not the solution. Just because it feels good, doesn’t make it right.

      I think divorce sometimes seem as the easy way out, since trying to fix the mess the cheater created, seems too overwhelming. Reminds me about my kids when a homework assignment is too overwhelming for them, they used to just shut down and quit. Just give up. I think this is related for some reason. It just feels like a familiar pattern.

      The solution is to break it into smaller steps so it is workable, so you see you are progressing towards the goal.
      But I guess the real first step is for the cheater to stop escaping, getting his high on the affair, and then to recognize the real reason for their unhappiness, look deeper within yourself.

      What cheaters don’t get is that affairs causes so much pain and damage to the family unit and the individuals involved, it would be much easier, healthier and less costly to work out the issues between the spouses…but then that means the cheater must look at their issues…sometimes it is just to scary or hard to do that.

      They say you choose your mate because it allows you to recreate that which you want to fix from your childhood. That is, you are attracted to that type of person. Probably because you recognize familiar comfortable interactions, which cause you to be attracted to that type of person. That isn’t comforting.

      Guess we are each in charge of fixing our personal issues so it doesn’t get passed on to the next generation. We are in charge of being the best person we can possibly be, setting good examples, treating others and ourselves well .

      Unfortunately we can’t fix our spouses or any one else’s issues. It is even hard to try to get the wayward spouse to listen to reason. Affairs have a way of making normally rational people think and act irrationally. I guess it is part of the love “sickness”.

      I’m feeling calm but philosophical today. Sorry, if I ramble.

      • Doug

        Jackie, thank you for your insight. I remember my brother’s therapist told him that having an affair is similar to jumping out of a plane without a parachute. The affair partner cushions the fall so you can escape the pain temporary but eventually you will need to deal with the reason why you jumped out of the plane in he first place. The affair offers a quick and easy relief from the cheater’s unhappiness but it is never the solution. Linda

    • KT

      Hi, i don’t know when my H started his affair with his coworker. I only found out his affair on 29 Jan, a msg from OP send to him on Oct last yr which H forgot to delet in his old HP. Things was fine
      until I found abt his affair and he suggested divorce. I was too shocked that he wanted divorce before we can talk. I told him I don’t agreed with divorce as I still love him and this family and kids(I was 18yrs old when I was with my H, now I’m 38yrs old)

      I suggested to meet counselor but my H refused saying that it is useless as he don’t love me any more and he gave u our marriage after he had heart attacked in 2005. I was shocked and can’t believe that all these years he don’t love me. After reading all the posts I think my H is using all these execuses to make think he is right to has affair. H wanted to sleep in separate rm as he said he can’t has Gd sleep sleeping nxt to me. He still carry his affair and come back home after midnight and some day he will stay over night at OP’s hse. I’m very hurt and sad by what he is doing. I can’t stop thinking and praying that he will come to his sense. But it seem to get worst each day. He will spend his pay bring her out and holiday instead of on our kids. He spend very little time with family and always shut himself in the rm playing fb game with OP. He won’t talk to me and avoid seeing me when he is at home.

      I know that he still love the kids very much. I was surprised that he brought a cake for me on my birthday and didn’t go see OP on that night. I tot he changed his mind until I talk to him last week and he said he will not divorce now until 1 or 2 yrs later.

      It break my heart and I feel so hurt. Can anyone tell me what is my H thinking. Am I really going to end up divorce. I gave him all the freedom he want and he nvr tell me where he going or why didn’t come back home and I also nvr ask ‘cos he said he don’t want me to control him.

      Any advise what I should do. Thanks

    • Jackie


      My heart goes out to you and all those that have been betrayed by their spouse. So many of us are here supporting one another through these difficult times. My h did all the same emotional things that yours is doing, except that since he was rejected by the OP it was all an emotional fantasy for him. Yours is more difficult since it is also a physical affair fantasy too.

      What did I read from the book Understanding Men’s Passages by Gail Sheehy, that one of the main reason men have affairs is they are afraid of dying. That explains all the change of feelings after the heart attack.

      So what do you do? The main thing I have learned, these last two difficult years, is you can’t change someone else, you can only change yourself. You must take care of yourself and your kids right now. Your husband is addicted to his affair and will not be there for you. He may come and go. Sometimes he will seem to care, other times lost somewhere else, other times hostile towards you. To me, my h was acting like an angry adolescent. He was selfish, wouldn’t say when he was coming or going, blamed every one, except himself for what he was doing (Most of the blame was towards me). Often you will wonder, “Who is this horrible stranger in my life that looks like my h?”

      You need to read about everything that can help you deal with the raw emotions caused by your h betrayal. I found lots of help on the internet particularly Dr. Bob Huizenga and his Marriage Sherpa program, and Frank Gunzburg. This EA web has also been of great help to me. You don’t even have to pay to join most programs. They provide lots of useful free info, all you need to do is give them your email.

      Marriage counseling lasted a couple of months. It was helpful for me, but h found it a horrible experience because it forced him to open up when he didn’t want to. He also was unwilling to let go of the addictive attachment, so joint marriage counseling seemed made him feel more shameful and angry. H felt marriage counseling did him more damage than good It is best to find yourself your own therapist if you have good insurance or can afford it, but they can be expensive. Reach out to others whom you know love and care about you, but be careful about revealing too much details to close family and friends because it can cause you problems later, if and when you and your h decide to work things out. You don’t necessarily have to tell your support people everything, but just let them know you are going through tough times now and need support. Be careful of advice given to you by people. Some advice can be really bad, some can be good. You must judge for yourself what is right and wrong for you. It is best to do nothing early on when you are so emotional, than something you will regret.

      There are also lots of internet and possibly a local support groups. I found BAN (Beyond Affairs Network). Which was very helpful for me. I found the book “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie to be a very good book to help understand the thinking of an addict. This helps you deal with you and the helplessness you feel. A lot of people found Al Anon useful as a support group also. (This is usually available everywhere since alcohol addiction is everywhere.)

      Be sure your h treats you and the kids with respect when h is home. This is not easy when your h is in an addictive state. He will generally blame you for everything that is wrong in his life, whether or not it makes any sense. He will say and do things that are totally irrational and illogical. Perhaps that is why you feel as if you are going crazy…he is not making any sense. Don’t believe everything your H says to you! If you find he is doing more damage (emotional as well as physical) than good to you and the kids, he may need to leave for a while to sort things out.

      The affair is really all about him and his issues. Yes, your relationship and marriage may have deteriorated over the years, but the choice to solve all his problems with an affair is his choice and he must choose fix this if he is willing. The more you try to stop him or make him see reason, the more he will run to the affair partner. This whole addiction thing is very counterintuitive. Addictions are that way for some reason that I don’t quite understand.

      There is a lot of free help available as I mentioned above, internet, library for books, and support groups. You need all the help and support you can gather to help you through this crisis in your life. Good luck to you and all those here who are struggling to survive an affair.

      Oh and don’t forget, to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy, keep yourself busy with things you love. It could be hobbies, family, friends, kids etc… And exercise is very good for your moods. I found walking (especially with friends), yoga tapes, and exercise both inexpensive and lifesaving for me.

      I know this is long note. I just hope it is helpful. Affairs are a very complex and scary issue.

    • KT

      Thanks Jackie.

      I started jogging to keep myself fit, buy things for myself which I don’t do in the past.

      I don’t know what H want. I really can’t take it he don’t come home. I told him how hurt i feel and hope he don’t do it. His replied is he can stay at her place anytime seem she is his gf and if I don’t like it I shld agree to let him move out. I didnt replied until 3 days later. I told H in a very calm way that I wil not sto him from moving out. I told him to think careful and give me his decision. 2 days later, he came home after work and told me he decided to stay. H still continue his affair and don’t come home sometimes.

      Sigh, sometimes I really feel like explore his affair in his office or call OP or even post a msg in their FB. Hoping they will stop this affair once it is no more a secret in the office.

    • Jackie

      There are a few articles on those internet sites I mentioned and maybe this one too on whether to confront the OP or not. It is a tough decision. Sometimes it helps, other times it makes it even worst by bonding pulling them closer.

      It is good that you are trying to be calm in front of your H. In general you just want to be your normal, wonderful, loving self in front of your H because he is comparing the life with you with his fantasy with her. There is no way you can compete with that fantasy! It is not real. Keep yourself looking good and feeling good. I know it is very hard to do all these things when it feels as if everything you believed in is falling apart.

      He seems to still care about you, and still loves the kids, so he is not completely lost in the affair. You have the advantage of knowing your husband better than anyone, and wonderful kids who love their dad. This is a very strong tie. It is very hard to give up 20 years together and a wonderful family. Your H will be conflicted…but he will have to decide when he will stop his madness.

      You don’t know what your H wants, because he doesn’t know what he wants either. He wants it all, but knows he can’t have both. He loves the drug like feeling he gets with her, but he also wants the safety and loving home you provide.

    • KT


      I don’t think I know my H now. He is totally a stranger now.

    • Jackie

      Addiction does that to a person. It is as if your H is on drugs. The drug becomes more important than anything else.

      You need to focus what is good in your life, your health, kids, friends, family, things you love to do. You must read and learn all you can about making you the best you can be. Be happy and proud of who you are. You can only change yourself and how you react to your situation.

    • suziesuffers

      If you want to take a look at some great additional info on the dynamics of an affair, I found a article. It really helped me even though I think I’ve read similar things on this site, sometimes reading it in a different article can hit us with some additional comfort…..and sometimes that just what I need. I want to WORK on things, but sometimes I just need comfort. Even though this link is to a divorce support site, it seems to be more of a site supporting marriage, with divorce being the last resort…thus if you have to divorce, support for that decision.

    • KT


      Actually, what I can’t accept is that H spending $ on her and instead of contribute on house expenses. He can spend $ bring out, buy gift for her and short holidays every 2mths. When I asked him for $ to pay his credit card he get angry and said I always ask $ from him. Frankly speaking, all these yrs I would said I contribute abt 80% of our house expenses and now I am trying to ask him for more seem he has $. If he don’t has $ then how to has gf?

    • KT

      I just found out that H had been to OW’s hse many times for dinner. OW send a msg to H saying mother asked why u didn’t come home for dinner and OW replied that H got diner with colleague. Really confuse what type of relationship they have now. Can anyone advice. Tks

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