filling the void caused by infidelityI was talking to my father the other day and he mentioned to me that it was the ten year anniversary of my grandpa passing away. I hadn’t remembered that at all, but after hearing that I started to travel down memory lane just a bit to think about my grandparents. One thing that always stood out to me was their undeniably strong love for one another.

When I was a young boy, my sister and I would occasionally get to spend the night at their house and it was always such a treat. You know how grandparents like to spoil their grand kids. They didn’t have a lot of money, so they never showered us with frivolous gifts or anything, but man they sure would let us eat anything we wanted (potato chips and ice cream just before bedtime- no way!) and allowed us to stay up late watching TV (Hello 11:30!).

In case you were wondering, it was the sixties, so “The Honeymooners” and “Hogan’s Heroes” were two of my favorites, but I digress.   What really stuck out in my mind the other day was that they really were a couple to envy.

They did just about everything together and would always hold hands when they were out. They also used to do the whole “I love you – No, I love you more” thing back and forth which would make me beet red with embarrassment when I was young. I would realize much later that they were pretty dead serious about it. I guess you could say it was adorable. I NEVER use that word – adorable – but it really was.

My grandma smoked quite a bit and came down with emphysema which would eventually be the cause of her death. I’ll never forget that my grandpa had to make the decision whether to leave her hooked up to machines for God knows how long, or let her slip away peacefully on her own. He chose the latter.

On the day she died my grandpa was by her bedside and they did that “I love you more” thing for the last time. What a tearjerker that was.

puzzle pieceSomething is missing

So by now you’re probably wondering where I’m going with all of this…

Well, perhaps some of you who have gone through the affair recovery process or are just now beginning your journey, may look at your marriage and wonder if your spouse is going to be there for you, holding your hand on your deathbed and uttering his/her version of the “I love you more” routine.

After an affair there is tremendous uncertainty for what the future might hold. “Will she leave once the kids are grown?” Will he do this to me again?” “Does he really love me or did he just settle?” “Am I the one she really wants?”

And in addition to those thoughts that run through your head, you may also feel that there’s just something missing.

Even if you’ve been able to survive the whole ordeal of ncaa lines and are to the point where your marriage is doing really well, you feel as though there is a void. The affair took a special part of your relationship and your love away from you and has left you feeling like you lost something – something important to your definition of “us”.

It’s quite ironic when you think about it. Many unfaithful claim that they were drawn into their affairs because something was missing in their marriage and yet the very act of infidelity robs the betrayed spouse of so very much.

You may even question if you really love your spouse, or at the very least, if you can ever love your spouse like you used to. Will it be as strong? Will it be enough?

Perhaps all these feelings stem from some lingering trust issues mixed with a little resentment – or maybe it just is what it is.

I know that Linda experienced these types of feelings a while back and it really did kill me to think my actions had caused that. It was one of the factors that really motivated me to get busy and try to make things up to her. And I know to an extent that she still does feel that that certain specialness and innocence of our relationship was taken away from her.

I really don’t know if I can really ever make it up to her so all I can do is my best (with her help) to make our new relationship even better. Yet there may forever be that void.

And what if that is indeed the case? What then? Does one just accept the loss? How?

Perhaps you are feeling something similar.

holding handsFighting for your marriage because of love

Perhaps you indeed love your spouse and are fighting like hell for your marriage because you believe in that love and in the hope that your marriage can be better and stronger in the future. And though the searing pain of the affair is dulled and for the most part in the background, it is still there. It always will be to some extent. You may feel your marriage will forever be defined as pre-affair, affair and post-affair.

And while that may be true, remember that you both chose to stay in the marriage and I think for most of us that is due to the fact that there is a measure of deep love there. You just may not be able to feel it or fully grasp it at the moment. But it’s there and it’s why the infidelity hurts so deeply.

Yes the marriage has changed and is defined differently and will never be the same. But ask yourself, honestly, “Could that actually be a good thing?” Because even if you thought you were happy and perfect, I’m betting that there were things in your relationship that you can now see needed to be changed.

And though change scares us and makes us all sweaty and nervous at times, it doesn’t have to be bad. It is change that allows us to grow and become better versions of ourselves.

If not for change would you have been a good parent? I know I wouldn’t have been. Would you have become as successful in your job? Without change, would you have been able to adjust to all of the other hardships and obstacles that you’ve encountered over the years? Doubtful.

I found the following quote from a reader a year or so ago and tucked it away in a file on my computer. I think it’s quite good and sums up where I’m trying to go with all of this rambling…

What’s hard about infidelity is that the change hit us all at once. There was no build up, no preparation. Your spouse changed the rules and expectations of your marriage without your consent. BUT you do have a say now. You are no longer powerless in what happens. And you get to choose how you move forward – and that is the most powerful thing about post-infidelity, I believe. You get a choice. And every day you stay – and he stays – you are choosing each other and the future. You may not realize it, but you’re already starting to look forward, and letting go slowly of the past.

And while there may always be some sort of void as a result of the affair, I like to believe it can diminish over time and can be filled with love if you choose to do so. Hopefully it can be a love we all can envy – like my grandparents.

 

    20 replies to "Filling the Void Caused by Infidelity"

    • Strengthrequired

      A void is definately there for me, I do hold into hope that that void will eventually disappear, yet right now, I don’t see it. I guess I am still in shock, that my h could have done what he did to me and our children. I don’t get it, I don’t understand it, yes he wasn’t well, but heck, I wasn’t either and I didn’t choose to hurt him. I do know he feels terrible, I think he fears me leaving some day, I fear it too, as still times I think the memories get just a bit too much. Yet somehow I still remain, he still remains, one day, moves to the next day, and we are still here. We are both in the trying to get past the past, me trying to escape the pain of what he did, and he trying to escape his guilt of what he did.
      Today a month after we move, he tell a me how someone has written ” I love” and his name in the dirt on his mag wheels. Unfortunately none of our kids did it, so you know where my mind went….. ” the ow”. Yet I don’t know, but this would be something she would do, to get to him and me. I’m used to the tricks she used to pull, just to get me away from my h and him me, so of course she would know it would get to me.
      Maybe I am reading too much into things, but as I said, getting last the memories and the pain, I couldn’t help.
      Here I am, moved back and still on the edge of my seat, just waiting for her to pounce.
      How I wish the future would hurry up and arrive, where that void is nolonger there.
      Where I can feel confident that on my deathbed my h would be there, giving me his undying love and him, my undying love. Just like your grandparents.

    • Lynsey

      Strengthrequired, at least your H told you about finding the writing “I love…” in the dirt. That should mean something positive for you. And, if it was the former OW, how juvenile to do something like that. You’re above all that nonsense, so please try not to let it get to you. She is so not worth it.

      • Strengthrequired

        Lynsey, my h did tell me, which was a good thing. My h thought it was me, and was happy about it he told me last night, he thought I was sending him love messages in a different way. I told him no, if I wanted to send you I love you messages I would think of something nicer than writing it on your car wheel. I let him know that this seemed more like what it would do, especially if she wants to get to both of us. Yet I can’t prove it. It just reminds me of all the tacky stunts she pulled, and no doubt she has heard that we have moved back, so probably more trouble causing.

    • Gizfield

      If it is Cousin It, all I can say is “What a psychotic, immature bitch.” You need to get a restraining order and a straitjacket for this chick. Seriously, though, she is mental SR. Do you have a plan as to how you are going to deal with her?

      • Strengthrequired

        Giz, if it was her, I totally agree, she is. Yet I can’t do anything about her, unless we knew it was her for sure. She could have gone past his work, while he wasn’t there, or she could have come past our home while we were asleep. Who knows, as I said can’t prove it. It just really got to me, because it only happens when we are back home together again, and she is a shit stirrer, and if she is jealous because he chose to stay in our marriage and leave her, then I don’t think it will end there, if it was her that is. I told my h to check out his car, in case she put some sort of spell on it lol.

        • Strengthrequired

          Ohh and giz, no there is no plan, my h seems to think she won’t do anything, I beg to differ. I can’t put a restraining order in her, if she is stalking my h, he would have to do it. Yet I think proof is needed too. Can’t wait to get a surveillance camera up.

    • tryinghard

      Doug

      This is a great piece. I really feel the heart and love you put into it and also the regret you obviously feel for your past choices.

      Even though life is so much better than “before” (yep I said it cause sadly I think that is how we will measure the rest of our lives) there will always be that little bit of doubt. Maybe a little bit of a void too.

      As I age I do question if my husband has the stomach to see me through the whole “in sickness and in health” promise. He’s never been very good at taking care of me or his sons when we were sick, but Katie bar the door when he’s sick. OMG it’s like he’s literally dying!!! I am totally the doting nurse too. Can’t help myself. I’m a regular Florence Nightingale when someone’s sick. Seriously I get a 24 hour bug and by God I better be better in 24 hours or less!!! He just doesn’t know how to care give other than fetch an aspirin. Me?? I get out of bed and run to the nearest Walgreens if necessary.

      He and I do that “I love you more” thing all the time, BUT we always did! I’m one of those who firmly believe that infidelity has NOTHING to do with loving or not loving one’s spouse and is totally about moral compass, values, and character. Also what love means to one person may not be the same to another.

      The difference now is he shows me by his actions that he loves me. He acts in very loving ways on a daily, almost all day basis. He doesn’t pass me that he doesn’t reach out and touch me or kiss me. He calls me all the time when we are apart (eeehhh, wait he did that to the OW too :/) Do I approach these new caring, loving acts with a lot of trepidation??? You betcha!! But I’m getting there. Slowly he is showing he’s here for the long haul. I do think and believe that the void can be filled given time. I guess I’m just hopeful but I can live with hope.

      I just hope he doesn’t change his mind, again…..

      • Doug

        Thanks TH. Why is it that a lot of men are such babies when they’re sick? Perhaps they’re reverting back to their childhood when mommy took care of them. Not that I’m special, but I prefer to be left alone when I’m sick. Anyways, I hear you about the moral compass, values and character aspect, though the “fog” can sometimes convince the CS that they really do not love their spouse anymore, never did, and wonder why they ever got married in the first place. It’s typically all a bunch of bull$#!+ most of us can attest to.

        • Strengthrequired

          Doug, my h came down sick a couple of days before he went away overseas, just before his ea started. He was sick over there and on his return, he told me how the ow looked after him when he was sick, and I didn’t. Lol. So of course she loved him, and I didn’t. Ohhh how he told me how she pampered him, and fussed over him. Of course she could, she had no babies or young children to also attend to, while trying at the same time to seduce him, taking advantage of the fact that I was back home.
          Now what’s funny, he tells me how much I have always looked after him and made him feel better. Strange how they forget so easily in a short space of time.

          • Doug

            Of course he forgot how you would take care of him. Funny though how now he has changed his tune. I hope he realizes how special you are!

            • Strengthrequired

              Thankyou Doug for those kind words. I think he realises, I hope so anyway. He tells me, so maybe I should start believing him lol. You know what he tells me now since his thinking changed. The ow dragged him down, she didn’t make him feel better at all. The only person that made him feel better was me, and he always knew that, even while he was going through his stressed depressed selfish time. He didn’t understand why he kept going back to her, he classified her like we call it, an addiction. An addiction that had us almost lose everything. He is still very down about what we have lost since that phase as he calls it, so he just keeps working harder.

    • Gizfield

      I “took care” of my husband after he had his coronary heart bypass surgery, somewhere about 8 or 9 years ago when our daughter was really young. A toddler, so I had both of them. I don’t think he truly appreciated it, since I’m so “lazy” and all. I’m sure his girlfriend would have been down with that. She takes such good care of her own daughter and all, lol.

      I’m kind of worried. My brother is 67 and was hospitalized in June for a staph infection. Very serious, he was in the hospital about a month, then rehab for another month. Now, they want him to have a coronary bypass. I’ve noticed that recently his live in girlfriend of eleven years, who has never worked, doesn’t drive, etc. has been squawking on facebook that she is “bored”, she’s not getting to do anything, cause my brother is just laying around, watching t.v. or reading rather than hauling her around. She “likes to be on the go”. On someone else’s dime of course. If this chick deserts him now, which I feel like she might, I’ll probably hunt her down and drag her back myself.

      • Strengthrequired

        Giz, I’m lazy and all too, lol. It wasn’t lazy, no…. She was perfect at the time. Lol. Once the dust settles, is when things start looking clearer. The high of an affair makes everything look bad in comparison.
        Your a good person giz, I’m sure your h sees how wonderful you are, us fatty’s beat the ones that thought were better than us. I guess being a scrag ended up not outweighing a good wife, pardon the pun. Lol

    • Tryinghard

      Doug
      Yes that crazy fog does that indeed. I think you have to always speak those words I Love You but certainly you have to act in loving ways and show your love and realize for yourself you are showing your love, always.

      After many years of marriage I always loved my husband but I will own that I probably wasn’t as overt as I should have been to show him I loved him. I just assumed he knew it!

      It’s so hard after so many years to be on top of your game to show that love. I don’t know why though. I guess life gets in the way.

      Yes a lot of men are babies and I walk a fine line with my care giving. I’m good at it but sometimes he just won’t listen and I think he wants to be miserable.

      • Strengthrequired

        Th, I always told my h I loved him, he did me too, yet it is more often now, I think it is so important. You are so right.

    • exercisegrace

      The hardest part for me is that even two years after d-day, many sessions with therapists (individual and couple) and countless hours of discussion, my husband maintains that it wasn’t the marriage that caused him to cheat. He would happily go back to exactly what we had before his affair. I know that sounds strange, but in a way I envy people who can say they knew they were unhappy, they knew there were problems, etc. My husband’s issues were losing his dad, nearly losing his business, financial pressures, a move, a new baby, etc. He went into a clinical depression and was ripe for the manipulative predator his whore admits she was. He trusted this “friend” that worked with him for years and she took full advantage. The attention, admiration, flattery and lies all seemed so attractive. I know it must have lifted him (temporarily) out of his depression. I was dealing with all those issues too. We were both paddling along in rough seas. I assumed we could hang in until the storms passed, but he jumped ship onto the SS Crazy Whore! He told her from the start that he loved me and would never leave me. So WHY? As we all know, there is simply no concrete answer to that. He soothed his own selfish needs in a very destructive way. period.

      For me, the void that is left is enormous. He and I were each others’ first and only. We valued our relationship and the purity of it. It felt sacred. We saved the best and most intimate for each other, and that is a rare, rare thing in this world. His whore admitted to having HPV late in their “relationship” and now I have to worry if that will ruin my health. It makes me very angry that he risked my health that way. Whatever good we make out of these ashes is not compensation for this type of stress.

      Ok. Having said that, I will say some positive things too. I recognize now that no one is immune. No matter how strong your marriage, how much you love each other, circumstances can come along to challenge all that. I believe we will always be better in tune with each other and our emotional needs. Particularly in times of great stress. I have learned to SPEAK UP. My needs matter too, and that’s something I always put last place. Every. Time. We are also working towards being a little more “selfish” and putting our marriage first. With four kids, work, chores, etc. that’s no easy task. But I believe we are getting better at it. Baby steps my friends, baby steps. I have learned to measure healing in inches, not miles. At the beginning of this road, I had unrealistic expectations of how quickly and how completely I would heal. I took the set backs hard. I can roll with it all much better now. I can relax and know that this process simply takes what it takes. We love each other and we are committed to healing. That’s really all that needs to be said!

      • Strengthrequired

        Eg, I could say almost the same thing, apart from a couple changes here and there. My h was suffering similar to yours, business, financial, pressures, stress, new baby, a large family to take care of, and it all became too much, so jumped ship. Me I was going through the same too, yet like you, I thought we could whether the storm. She came back into his life at the right time, she played with his head, manipulated him etc and the rest is history. She gave him the short lived high, which masked he bad he was still feeling, it ended up making him feel even worse. He even told me, how every time he was with her, he felt worse, and he couldn’t understand if she loved him, then why would she have made him feel worse about himself.
        The only time he truly started to feel relaxed, was when he was with me and his children. It just became more and more uncomfortable every time he spoke to her, saw her, yet in a way I think he was worried about hw she would react, if he didn’t.
        We both definately put up with crazy ass ow.

        • Ann

          I am right there with you both. My H was stressed at work and home and she came along for what she said was “strings free” sex. At first she claimed to love her H but as the A moved along my H discovered that she wanted him. Like you, Grace, he told her from the beginning that he would never leave me, and never showed any emotions for her. They never even “dated” …just sex at a hotel once or twice a month. It wasn’t until he ended it (months before Dday) that she started acting crazy.

          I am a week from the 2 year anniversary of Dday and still struggle daily. I just told my H this week that I thought I needed to move out… not sure I can ever feel for him like I should. I have really only stayed for the kids.. I love him, but I don’t think I will ever respect him again. Have have my days where I think I can make it, then there are days that I hate myself for staying.

          He has done all the right things on his end (MC, IC, open communication) it is me who doesn’t think I can ever forgive him for destroying what we had.

          • Tabs

            Ann,

            I’m in my 3rd year since Dday. Although we’ve had our yelling (and punching) matches, I have not moved out nor asked my H to move out. I often regret not kicking his sorry ass out the front door. I think I really only stayed because I was overwhelmed with the deception. I also know I hate to lose, even if the prize is a CH. I’m not sure what burden is the worse: infidelity or staying married after infidelity.

    • forcryin'outloud

      Nicely written heartfelt post Doug!

      I will always have a void – for so many reasons. Probably most because of all the lies in thought, word and deed. I firmly know now that I will never completely trust my H again. I also know I will never trust another person like I trusted my H ever again. And yes I know how sad that seems.

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