Survive the AffairI received an email from someone today that brought me back to a time where I was feeling lost, frustrated and didn’t know where to turn. I wanted to help this women and give her to some insight so she would have the strength to survive the affair and save her marriage.

During the time when I found out about my husband’s marital affair, I visited so many websites, read hundreds of books and listened to well meaning friends. However there was so much conflicting information and ideas that I felt I was pulled in too many directions. So I thought I would compile a brief  list of my thoughts, some books, websites and information that I found helpful.  Hopefully, you will too.

First of all, the affair is not your fault. I know that your spouse may be blaming you, or telling you all the things you should have done differently. I know that there were behaviors that should be changed by both partners. However, your spouse made the choice to go outside the marriage to get his/her needs met.

They may have said they didn’t go looking for an affair and that “it just happened.” However, the spouse made the choice everyday whether to continue that relationship or to go back and work on their marriage. So don’t feel guilty or take the blame for their actions.

Look inward. One thing you need to do is look at yourself and see how your behaviors may have contributed to the deterioration of your marriage. Your spouse also has to take responsibility for their part. After reading the book Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, I learned that problems in a marriage are a result of a vicious cycle. One unwanted behavior from a spouse will produce another reciprocal behavior, and the cycle continues until one day you wake up and realize your marriage is in serious trouble.

Another  book I found extremely helpful was The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage” by Michelle Weiner-Davis.  This book was a lifesaver for me. I was becoming frustrated and anxious because I thought that Doug may still be involved with Tanya. I had tried everything I thought I should do and thought I was not being successful. This book helped me to look at my behaviors and myself differently. It gave me power to continue to try to save my marriage. If time is a problem for you, skip to the chapters on infidelity and mid-life crisis. However, try to read the entire book because it offers insights on how to look at your behaviors in a different way.

Find a friend who will support you. Find someone who will tell you everyday how wonderful you are. Someone who will tell you that your spouse will never find anyone like you. Try to stay away from friends who want to offer marital advice. It is very easy to tell someone they should leave or get a divorce if they are not living  your situation.

Stop obsessing over the other man/women. I know this is a difficult task, especially when your spouse is telling you what a perfect person they are. I spent too much time and energy on thinking about what she looked like, how she acted, what did she have that I didn’t. Unfortunately, it is still something that haunts me today. However I do know that she wasn’t perfect.  Instead, the conditions were perfect for Doug to portray her that way. Everything was easy.  There was no responsibility–only phone calls, texts and lunch dates.

Take responsibility for yourself. For a many months I tried to convince Doug that he should end his emotional affair and work on our marriage. And for many months he continued contacting her and continued the affair. I realized that he needed to make that decision on his own. I cannot control his thoughts and actions. The only control I have is my behavior.

So I began to do things that made me feel better. I went out with friends, took a personal training “boot-camp” class, exercised often, took long baths, went shopping, etc.  I learned that I would be OK with or without him. I wanted to be married to Doug but I didn’t need to be, and that I am a very strong, intelligent, and attractive women who kept her respect and integrity through out this situation.

Look for the small gestures. I know that some mornings when you wake up only to realize the nightmare you are having is your reality and it is almost impossible to get out of bed. Something that helped me get through the day was looking for small gestures. Things that Doug did to show that he was coming back. It could be a look, a tap on the shoulder, a touch when they walk by, or a compliment.

In Doug’s case he started to spend less time in his office and more time in the family room with us.  I know that you want your nightmare to be over and you want your spouse to run into your arms and say he/she is sorry. Chances are this is not going to happen so you need to look at the small behaviors and gestures to give you the courage to carry on.

Write down your thoughts. I  found keeping a journal to be helpful. I would write down the small gestures, my fears, my emotions. Writing them down became a release for me and helped me get a handle on my feelings.

Hopefully  these tips will help you!

Best wishes,

Linda

 

    7 replies to "Find the Strength To Survive the Affair"

    • Tammy

      My husband carried on an emotional affair with a coworker who is also married. She pursued him, however he accepts the blame as he did not stop it. It occured for 3 months until i found out thorugh email. I confronted him 3 months ago and he said he would end it and wanted to be with me. This week was the 1 year anniversary his father’s death and he started acting differently again towards me. he told me that he had been lying and that he still didnt know if he wanted to be married or single. He also said he still cares about her (said he doesnt love her but misses their friendship). She wont just be his friend, she said it’s an affair or not at all. He said he wishes he could go back to the day this started and change his actions so the friendship would be the same and this wouldnt have happened. Since they work together, I did ask that he had mainained boundaries at work and he said he has. He felt so much better after talking to me and he seemed in better spirits. Me on the other hand, I’m heart broken and tired of this. I was at a point of healing in 3 months that i didnt think about it every day and our marriage was improving however I was doing most of the work. I have been going to counseling on my own (he offered to go to marriage counseling but i wanted to do this for myself first). He hasn’t gone but when he was in despair last week (before we talked) he did set up an appt for this week. It’s a big step for him. he doesnt handle conflict/problems well (he gets overwhelmed and stressed out) yet he has stayed to this point and is now trying to get help. He said he has to forgive himself first and figure out how he could have had feelings for someone else, how did this happen. I’m so sad, I want him to be out of his fog, and in this with me to focus on our marriage. But because he didnt deal with this as well as he could over past 3 months, now we are at this point. I feel like until he gets over his feelings for her, our marriage can’t improve. I have to think depression or the fog is clouding his judgement right now and that there is still hope for our marriage (he told me there is). But I feel like I want to cling to him and hold on tight, I’m so emotional and can’t stop thinking about this. I was doing so well and am back to square one. How long do I wait, and how do I help him through this? Should I make him move out? I have supported him quitting his job but he likes his job and a promotion are on horizon so we wont be working with her. Linda, others, help- am I being a doormat? How do i show support but strength through this time of limbo.

    • Paula

      Thanks Linda

      I have tried all of these things, and most often think I am successful, however, I keep falling in holes, just when I think the worst is over. I’m very lucky, I have a darling man who has been VERY patient and loving, and understanding and extremely remorseful for the hurt he caused, and I have worked hard on myself, also knowing I will be fine on my own, if need be.

      The part about finding a friend to support you is probably my biggest thing. I thought I had one, and I had moderated my comments, so that I wasn’t ALWAYS discussing this with her after a while, probably about year after D-Day, but she just ended up after a while saying, “you need to leave,” all the time, so I have pulled back from this friendship quite a bit, because I now know that no-one who hasn’t been through this can possibly understand any of the ways you react, I know I didn’t ever think I would be like this, I’ve told my OH that I would never have asked him to stay if I thought I was going to be like this, he must sometimes feel like I’m punishing him, although that is certainly not my intention, and he rarely, if ever complains, understanding that this is what he has triggered in me. My friend and I have been friends since we were 10, even flatting together when at uni for a year, we were very close. She is disappointed, but forgiving of my other half, as she says, he was stupid, but OW is a psychopath, and therefore very convincing and encouraging in getting her own way, but she thinks it is too hard for us to stay together. As a result (this happened at the beginning of this year, that I decided to stop disclosing any of my true feelings to her) I am now incredibly lonely, and feel I have to put up the strong, sorted screen to everyone. Everyone we know thinks we have it sorted, we’ve survived, and all is wonderful again, and I know this shouldn’t matter, because who cares what everyone else thinks, really, but I am very alone.

      New shrink has decided that I am suffering from post traumatic stress disorder – OMG, I am now officially sick, lol! He says I have reacted to this life event in the same way people do after plane crashes, wars, torture, multiple deaths, etc. I told him it seemed a little over the top, but I do have to agree with him, that is what it feels like, and I’m pretty disappointed in myself. I was pretty okay-ish at first. I was sensible, understanding, knew what I had to do and what OH needed to do to “make it better” and I can’t understand why i am worse now, over two years later than I was initially. I have nightly nightmares of being raped by these two people, and play ugly (not sexy) porn in my head featuring the two of them constantly, awake and asleep, and I’m so tired of fighting those images and feelings. The annoying thing is that I wasn’t so concerned about the sex, although it is not ideal, my worst feelings were about the fact that he had cut me out, and used her as his listening board, and emotional confidante, so I just don’t undersatand why the sexually graphic images are there.

      Never mind, I feel that the psychologist is onto something, and best of all – he has a treatment plan, light at the end of the tunnel, yay!

    • roller coaster rider

      Paula, I am so happy to hear you have found someone with some idea of how to help. It’s true that certain days are just black and the betrayal is worse than death. I am thankful I have a friend whose H had an affair many years ago who is now helping me negotiate these waters. Yesterday she said something priceless: “Don’t waste the pain.”
      In one sense, you are not alone because we are here although not face to face. As for the dreams, my understanding is that rape has nothing to do with sex. It’s about power and probably an expression of how you felt and still feel victimized. No wonder it’s hard to trust…

    • Paula

      Thanks RCR, yeah, unfortunately things have got a little tied up, and past stuff has surfaced that I feel I had dealt with at the time. I have only been with my H sexually, I met him at 20, about 6 months after I had been raped at a uni party, so even though you are right about rape being non-sexual, and more about power, this was a situation where a guy decided he wanted me, and as he got more drunk, he decided he would just “help himself” despite my protests, he was a very big guy, and I had no hope of fighting him off, but I gave it my best shot (I’m not the biggest person.) I coped quite well at the time, went and got tested for STIs, took a morning after pill, and just dealt with it, it wasn’t nice, someone “stole” my innocence, but I was okay, I was a big girl, and despite not having had sex, I’m not a prude, just selective! Consequently, I never told my H that he was my “first” (and therefore only) as it seemed a “lie” to claim that, however several years after we had been together, I did tell him about the rape. He only now knows that he’s my one and only, not that that makes any difference, but I think it kinda shows my loyalty and, I guess, morals. I think that is where the rape nightmares come from, they are graphic and filthy (the OW gave us an STI – which causes me huge grief) and I just bloody well want them to stop. Of course, this disrupts sleep, which never helps anyone’s state of mind. I did such a lot of disclosure over the years to my love about things that I knew would hurt me, one of my BIG things has always been sexual health, probably partly from being a teen in the 80s, when the AIDS crisis first hit, and having a gay dad, who “came out” during that same period while he was still married to my mother, and my interrogation of them about “safe sex” – my mother stayed with my father for another 12-18 months after he admitted to having sex with men, and my terror for the next two years after they had separated (which happened in the summer holidays just before I went away to uni) that she had contracted HIV during that time – as we all know, not having the information about your partner having sex with other people doesn’t give you any opportunity to protect yourself from STIs. I had made it abundantly clear to my love that if there was ever a huge mistake made, even if it was a drunk shag with a complete stranger, whatever (and I certainly didn’t think that would happen, but I wanted to ensure NO DISEASES) that condoms were a must. I always kept some around, didn’t count them, or anything like that, and anyway, he’s perfectly capable of buying his own, just to ensure if the worst happened, at least we would be protected from disease, as I said, his selfishness could have killed me. This all from the man that had been cheated on by the very same woman who he cheated on me with (only 12 months before I met him, she was caught having one of what turned out to be several affairs). He told me that when he first met me, he instantly realised that she hadn’t been worth his time, as what we had was “the real deal” instant attraction, lots of fun, and very, very quickly, we fell very deeply in love – he was just with her because it was easy sex and a bit of company when he looked back on it, and wondered why he was even bothered being upset with her for her indiscretions. As soon as I came on the scene, she got very clingy, and tried to get him back, claiming I had “stolen” him from her, which is absolute rubbish, as I didn’t even meet him until over a year after he caught her cheating and split with her. I think this affair was about revenge, in her mind, for me “stealing her man” – so untrue, and a complete fabrication on her part.

      Thanks for the support, I used to visit here occasionally when I had a friend or two to count on, but only started posting when I realised that I could easily start to be seen by my friends as “sad, miserable Paula,” as a way of ridding my mind of the poison that can fester away at your sanity, so sorry, I do use this site as a dumping gound a bit, but better out than in 🙂

      RCR, I’m so glad you have someone who has “been here” – that must be a marvellous resource, and you must feel very close to her, what a fabulous friend to have, despite the pain that both of you have been through, and continue to go through. Does she still feel pain from time, or is she pretty even these days? I bet she is an awesome person, one thing I have learnt is that women (and men) who get through this, with or without their marriage intact, are amazing people, whereas beforehand, I’m ashamed to admit, I probably thought they were just a little stupid! How the mighty have fallen, lol!

    • Jackie

      Linda,
      I really like what you had to say in this article. It is the same things I felt and learned in these last two years after discovering my H EA. We still have trouble communicating now, but I am working on it. H doesn’t bring up EA but is showing more and more signs of returning to home life such as taking an interest in our home environment, the affairs of the children, and sharing little frustrations he has. He is no longer having emotional outbursts and blaming everyone for his issues and problems, which he did often during the EA. I think it was a shame/guilt thing…where he felt the problem couldn’t be him, so it must be everyone else in our family.

      Tammy,
      Sounds like your husband is in the middle of a Midlife crisis. He is dealing with issues of death of important members of his family like his dad. I wonder if he is also dealing with his own issues of getting old. The EA offers an addictive escape into fantasy so H doesn’t have to look at himself and deal with his issues. The drug like high of the EA, the irrational “in love” feeling is hard to resist, especially for people who don’t like to look too deeply at themselves. I feel my H used the EA to alleviate his depression…a sort of self medication. The affair becomes a very destructive coping mechanism.

      Going to marriage counseling may or may not work. It really depends on what state of mind your H is in. Mine was completely “in love” with the OW at the time and so was only going through the motions of the counseling for me, not us or the marriage. He didn’t want to give up the good feelings the EA gave, even though he admitted that they were a fantasy. We were in marriage counseling for about 3 months. Today, he will not even consider marriage counseling any longer, saying it did more damage than good for him. It helped me immensely, but now we are on our own to put this relationship back together. I think the marriage counseling gave him too much pressure to stop the EA at the time. It seemed to me that H felt pressure from me and the counselor to stop his EA. It was as if H said to himself, “No one is going to tell me what I should do!” This made him want the EA even more…especially since the EA made him feel so good and the counseling and me, made him feel guilty and shameful. Neither I nor the counselor was trying to make H feel bad…we just felt he needed to stop the EA behavior for our relationship to have a chance.

      What seemed to help us the most was for me to back off. Give H the time and space to look at what he was doing to himself, me, and the kids. Allow him to come to his own conclusion about what really mattered to him. Allow the rational side of his brain to catch up and figure out what he truly wanted. This is very hard to do especially when you have no idea what is your H intent towards you, and what H and the OW are doing. I always think of these crazy times as my H emotions “running amok” with no restraints from the rational side of the brain. That is why affairs are so confusing to both spouses. It just isn’t rational thinking.

      Sorry this is so long. I just want to share and help others with what I have learned these last two difficult years.

    • suzie suffers

      Doug/Linda: Have you thought about having a Post that is about the various forms of obsession, length of time, need for counseling, Post Traumatic “affair” syndrome, harm to marriage harboring and “nagging” spouse?

      • Doug

        Suzie, We have posted about obsessive thoughts and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, but I think you are on to something there where we can probably delve into it a little further. Thanks.

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