Though the title to this mentions how to cheat on your spouse, this article is about the mindset that a cheater develops in order to carry on an affair.

how to cheat on your spouse

By Sarah P.

This title at first glance appears to both be click bait AND a way to instruct wayward spouses to cheat without guilt. However, appearances are not always as they seem.

This article is about the mindset that a wayward spouse develops in order to carry on an affair. This article will discuss the strategies of compartmentalization, entitlement, and dissociation that some wayward spouses use to carry on an affair without feeling remorse or guilt while in the affair.

The betrayed spouse often knows something “is off,” but most cannot point to what it is. Before a betrayed spouse finds out about an affair, they can develop free-floating anxiety, depression, weakened immune systems due to stress, and sometimes get the feeling life is not as it seems.

Often wayward spouses treat betrayed spouses poorly by nit-picking things that do not matter, by stating backhanded comments, by gas-lighting, becoming frequently angry, and unpleasant to be around. Wayward spouses do this to keep a betrayed spouse mentally unbalanced.

A betrayed spouse might develop depression due to months of poor treatment by the wayward spouse and when this occurs, the wayward spouse has very intentionally set up the perfect situation: he or she can now frame himself or herself as the long-suffering victim of a wife or husband who is depressed or who treats him or her terribly.

In essence, this article is about the calculated manipulation tactics wayward spouses use to frame themselves as victims, thus relieving them of feelings of guilt.

How to Cheat on Your Spouse Without Feeling Guilty: 4 Elements

1. Dissociation

“Dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity. Dissociation seems to fall on a continuum of severity. Mild dissociation would be like daydreaming, getting “lost” in a book, or when you are driving down a familiar stretch of road and realize that you do not remember the last several miles. A severe and more chronic form of dissociation is seen in the disorder Dissociative Identity Disorder, once called Multiple Personality Disorder, and other Dissociative Disorders…

Other dissociative disorders include “psychogenic amnesia” (the inability to recall personally significant memories), “psychogenic fugue” (memory loss characteristic of amnesia, loss of one’s identity, and fleeing from one’s home environment), and “multiple personality” (the person has two or more distinct personalities that alternate with one another. This is also known as “Dissociative Identity Disorder.” (1)


Everyone in the world has the capacity to dissociate and it is a way to give the brain a rest. Dissociation can help children daydream and think of exciting new worlds where they can fly, fight pirates, or even live in giant cities filled with puppies and candy. Dissociation can be a friend to the imagination in a healthy way, such as when children dream up exciting new worlds where anything is possible or get lost in a good book.

Dissociation allows us to suspend rational thought systems when we are watching our favorite movies or reading fictional books set in far off lands or perhaps set in totally different galaxies from our own. Dissociation can be an important part of the creative mind.

But, dissociation taken to its extreme is very harmful to the person who develops it and the people around them.

How does this apply to infidelity?

Since dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection between a person’s thoughts, memory, and sense of identity, a wayward spouse can call upon dissociation to forget that he is Paul the Investment Banker with a wife and four children. When Paul is with his mistress, Susan, he can easily drop thoughts about who he is, memories of his wife and family, and drop his identity of investment banker.

When Paul is with his mistress, he is again a giddy teenager, exploring forbidden love and the body of a new woman, which makes the experience exciting. For Paul, the combination of forbidden and new is irresistible. Paul is able to disconnect from real life, suspend reality, and live a fantasy life with Susan where anything is possible. While with Susan, he is able to block out all thoughts of his life outside of the affair.

“How Could You?” – The Psychology of Justifications, Rationalizations and Excuses for Infidelity

2. Compartmentalization

This leads us to dissociation’s best friend: compartmentalization. After Paul is finished seeing Susan, he must compartmentalize the time spent with her to assuage guilt and to prevent any memories of his time with Susan from rising up.


If he cannot compartmentalize Susan, he will start acting strangely and his wife will ask questions. Paul’s mind automatically compartmentalizes his affair with Susan in order to hide it.

What is compartmentalization?

From Wikipedia: Compartmentalization is a subconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person’s having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves.

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Compartmentalization allows these conflicting ideas to co-exist by inhibiting direct or explicit acknowledgement and interaction between separate compartmentalized self states.[1]

Often compartmentalization is associated with negativity, but it does not always have to be a negative trait. Built for survival, this ability to compartmentalize can help people focus and discern important information to gain clarity. Forbes used an excellent example at how compartmentalization can help entrepreneurs:

“Normally entrepreneurs think about their businesses all day long and therefore focus on nothing else. In the past I would have worked on a long list of projects. Instead, I had all these other things that were demanding attention from my mind and heart, and there were only a few events or priorities I was humanly capable of focusing on per day. I learned prioritizing is saying “no” and focusing on only the few things that matter most.

So, to sum it up, here is a five-step system for dealing with adversity and extreme challenges while running a business:

  1. Compartmentalize it. Isolate the issue from all the other challenges you are dealing with.
  2. Apply extreme focus on each compartment, but only for a short period of time.
  3. Move forward in incremental steps. And once you see progress…
  4. Close the compartment and open the next one.
  5. Say “no” to things that don’t deserve a compartment.” (2)


These principles are essential parts of a successful business. In the case of business, these principles can help an entrepreneur focus on the right thing at the right time and be fully present for those experiences. In this way, it is positive.

However, these very same principles can be used by Paul in a negative way: to carry on a long-term affair with Susan while he is married to Colleen. This list below is written from the perspective of how someone like Paul will use this technique while in the affair fog.

The items below represent deceit and I do not agree with them. This list is for illustrative purposes to give you a peak into the mind of Paul while he is having an affair:

  1. Paul will isolate the attraction to and relationship with Susan from other life challenges, events, or from his wife and family.
  2. Paul will apply extreme focus to Susan when with her and think only of her when with her. He will shut out all other thoughts of a life outside Susan when in her arms.
  3. Move the affair forward in incremental steps and if he has not gotten caught….
  4. Paul will close the compartment (of past memories with Susan) and open a new compartment that contains justifications for the affair with Susan. He will open a compartment that labels Susan as a soul mate to justify his actions.
  5. Say ‘no’ to things like guilt and shame because they do not deserve a compartment (in Paul’s opinion). They do not deserve a compartment because they make Paul feel bad. Paul believes the love her has for Susan is unlike any other love before. This special love will not be marred by negativity or guilt.

Of course, the thoughts above are both immoral and they are sheer lunacy. It is wrong to cheat on one’s spouse, but guilt can be held at bay by compartmentalizing the affair. The list above was a concrete example of the things that go through the minds of adulterers and how they compartmentalize the affair so that it does not affect the rest of their lives.

The Psychology of Affairs: The Games People Play and the Lies that Bind 

3.  Entitlement

After Paul has had an affair with Susan for a while, he will begin to feel entitled. He will believe he always deserved the kind of love and carefree sexual relationship Susan provides him. Since Paul is an Investment Banker, he believes the whole world should be at his feet and feels entitled to put the world at his feet. Paul views himself as a demi-God of sorts. The more entitled he feels, the more victimized he will feel for being married and “shackled to a family that forces Paul to be a responsible adult.”

He will wonder why he works hard all day and yet Susan is the only one who understands him.  He will see himself as victims of his children; they are leeches since they require food and school clothing. He will also start to see his wife as a leech that is sucking him dry.


4.  Victim Mentality

Why is it so important for a wayward spouse like Paul to make a deliberate attempt to frame himself as a victim?   

The first reason is to prevent Paul from feeling guilty for having an affair. If he is being “victimized” by an “unloving shrew of a wife,” he can reassure himself that he is justified in finding shelter in the arms of another woman like Susan.

Secondly, if Paul is caught in the arms of another woman like Susan, he will have already written a story in his mind to excuse his behavior so that others will not find him guilty either. 

See also  The Affair Recovery Timeline – Shorten It With This One Shift by the Unfaithful Spouse

He will regale anyone who is willing to listen about his terrible lot in life: being the long-suffering and abused husband of a cruel and cold wife. He will explain how years of emotional starvation and years of physical deprivation broke him. He will pause dramatically and say somewhere he knew it was wrong to share the shelter of Susan’s arms, but Susan was the bright light of hope after years of a cold and loveless marriage.

In fact, he even might shed a tear for dramatic effect to anyone who is listening. He might make a statement and ask a rhetorical question like, “Oh how I hate myself… why couldn’t I have done without love and been satisfied with years of tedium, a cold martial bed, and disconnection? Oh why, why, why? Why must I have feelings and why must I need the warmth and comfort of a woman’s arms. Why couldn’t Colleen do that? I pleaded and I begged and I even cried… but Colleen slept in a different bedroom? Oh why couldn’t I be content with my soul-destroying life?”

If onlookers are gullible and heard Paul say such things, the (gullible) women would have likely given Paul a hug and comforted him by giving compliments. The gullible men would have excused him and the men would have said Paul had the right (as a man) to have sex everyday. Some men might say Colleen deserved it and make excuses for Paul.

That is, if the people listening were gullible. People who are not gullible would start asking questions.

Changing Places: When the Wayward Spouse Identifies as the Victim

What Really Happened 

Let us take a closer look at these three fictional characters: Paul, Colleen, and Susan to set up and illustrate this dynamic.

Let us go back in time.

Paul and Colleen met in their mid-20’s when they were introduced by mutual friends. Paul and Colleen hit it off immediately since they shared the same hobbies and happened to work in the same industry.

They took it slow and became friends first, which formed a solid foundation onto which they built their relationship. Paul and Colleen respected the other very much and spent a lot of time together because their communication came easy and naturally.

Eventually they became a couple and they fell fast for one another. Colleen was so smitten with Paul and she was certain this was the man she would marry. Eventually, Paul proposed and Colleen said “yes.” They had a beautiful wedding in the Hampton’s and said their vows on the beach at sunset.

Colleen quit her job (also) as an investment banker after their first child was born. Soon, two more children were born and Paul and Colleen made the decision for Colleen to stay home until the children were in college.

Colleen became a mother of three children and Paul was no longer ‘top dog.’ Colleen was still smitten with her husband and they had a frequent sex life. Either they took a shower together before the kids were awake or had a middle-of-the-night romp as the kids slept.

During the day, Colleen focused on being a good mom to their three children. They had help from a nanny so that Paul and Colleen could maintain date nights. Colleen kept her figure and worked out a lot. Colleen was a super mom in the eyes of her friends and the other moms in Soho looked up to her.

One day, a new employee and graduate from Yale showed up in Paul’s workplace. Susan was driven and sassy and determined to play with the big boys. She was planning her own wedding to another Yale graduate and would soon marry in to a wealthy New York family.

Susan, a very aggressive Millennial, felt most people were beneath her and that she was the smartest person in the room. She was loud, pushy, always arguing with someone, and dealt with others like a bull in a China shop.

Susan felt tremendous power since she (a 24-year-old) with an MBA, was so bossy and out-spoken that she could make men and women twice her age give her a wide berth. She loved questioning authority figures during meetings and openly criticizing presentations. She loved taking people down a few notches and planned on becoming a Vice President in the banking industry by the time she was 27-years-old.

Paul was a very handsome 35-year-old and an Assistant Vice President at their international banking firm. Susan soon noticed that she did not intimidate Paul in meetings. Then, one day she saw his wedding ring flash under the boardroom lights, as he was giving a presentation about the company’s quarterly performance.

Susan could not intimidate Paul, Paul was married, and Susan saw Paul as the ticket to ridding herself of her associate status and to be quickly promoted to Assistant Vice President. She wanted to be promoted to Assistant Vice President within the year.

Susan took the seductiveness of her wardrobe up several notches, and spent hours on her hair and make-up before work. Each day, she made her way to Paul’s office and often sat on his desk as she asked him questions. She always sat on his desk when she wore miniskirts and stilettos.

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Then, the compliments began… “I hope your wife appreciates you. You are so young, successful, smart, and strong. You have earned my respect and I think about you a lot these days.”

Then the lunches began. Paul loved looking across the table at Susan’s mysterious and exotic dark eyes, her long, slender neck, her shiny, black hair and her flawless porcelain skin.

One day Susan teased Paul and asked him what kind of women he liked. Before he could answer, she said, “I like men just like you. I like everything about you and often think about you as I fall asleep at night. Sometimes my bed feels so cold and I long for arms just like yours.”

Note: Susan did not tell Paul she was engaged, let alone living with her fiancé. Susan was also an expert at compartmentalization. When she was at work, it was all about doing what was necessary to move her to the top of the corporate ladder in a flash.

It was a rainy Monday when disaster hit. Paul’s manager announced that Susan was being fast-tracked and she would accompany Paul on his quarterly business trip to their offices in London.

Paul was flabbergasted and did not know what to do. He did not want Colleen to know because then she would worry. He had never told Colleen about Susan. He decided it was best not to tell his wife Colleen because he was sure nothing would happen between him and Susan. They would have hotel rooms on separate floors; their days would be busy with meetings; they would be too tired to get dinner, let alone talk.

As anyone who is remotely clued in knows, life does not work that way. Paul and Susan consummated their relationship on their first night in London. Susan was wild. Paul and Colleen had frequent sex, but Susan was wild and did things Colleen never would have done. Susan was completely comfortable with her daring, sexual nature and wanted to give Paul a sampling of everything that was to come. So, she did.

Paul knew if Colleen found out, that would be the end of their marriage. He also knew that if human resources found out, he would be fired. So, Paul used dissociation, compartmentalization, and treating Colleen poorly to allow him to carry on an affair without guilt.

Paul and Susan carried on an affair for two years until Susan no longer needed Paul. Once Susan became a regional Vice President, she was no longer interested in Paul. It was fun while it lasted, but she did not truly want the burden of Paul’s children. Susan did not want children at all. 


how to cheat on your spouse


The Real Victim

Of course, the real victim in this scenario is the betrayed spouse, Colleen. Often, spouses like Colleen do not find out. If the Paul’s of the world are careful and know how to flawlessly live double-lives, the Colleen’s never find out.

That is, unless the Colleens of the world get an irregular pap result or an unknown STD. Then, Colleen will start questioning and be in for a rude awakening.

If Colleen goes to couples therapy with Paul, there will be times when he will not remember the details of the affair. Of course, there will be many times Paul does remember but will not tell the truth. However, if the dissociation was strong and Paul experienced psychogenic amnesia, there will be things he will not remember.

Worst of all, when Colleen asks why, Paul will most likely point to flaws in Colleen because he feels entitled. He does not understand why Colleen is still “harping on the affair” since it is over. Many unfaithful men and women think since the affair is over, there is nothing to discuss. They think the only duty they had was to end the affair and become quite irate when they do end it, and when the betrayed spouse wants to revisit it.

In Summary

This article is a very brief overview of the psychological mechanisms that come into play during infidelity. This article is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to psychological mechanisms that allow wayward spouses to carry on double lives and not be eaten alive by guilt.

How about you?

Do you recognize anything in this article that is similar to what you have gone through? Have you noticed dissociation, entitlement, and compartmentalization in your wayward spouse?

If so, how did these psychological states look?

Is there any other coping mechanism your wayward spouse used to assuage guilt?

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Inside the Mind of the Unfaithful
Understanding Why Cheaters Do What They Do

Doug talks with several ex-unfaithful persons who share their experiences, thoughts and feelings.  They answer the most asked questions betrayed spouses typically have for the cheater.






Photo:  Petras Gagilas


    55 replies to "How to Cheat on Your Spouse Without Feeling Guilty"

    • Hopeful

      Pretty much sounds like my husband. I think for him entitlement would be number one. That was the starting point with him, he deserved to do what he wanted, he worked hard, he provided, others liked him…. Then everything else followed. And I guess one good point to his choice in ow is he did not ever cross over his horrible behavior into the workplace.

    • Sarah P.

      Hello Hopeful,

      I am so sorry this sounds like your husband. That’s a really painful experience to be married to someone like Paul.

      You are not alone though and fortunately your husband is no longer than person. It’s cold consolation though. He may no longer be a person like that, but you will still remember when he was like that.

      Paul is a composite of all the men I had known in the corporate world who were cheating with coworkers. Susan is a composite of how some aggressive and career-oriented women sometimes use their sexuality to get ahead. Unlike those of us with integrity, we have life goals, but know reaching such goals in ways that are honest will take time.

      I hope this article helped you better understand what your H was thinking. (He wasn’t. His double life was neatly tucked away until the guilt caused him to break). The fact that he broke it off and told you is a big deal. It doesn’t make what he did better. But it reassures you he did it because he wanted to break it off. And then he did the right thing by telling you.

      Did you ever have psycho somatic symptoms during that time? (These symptoms are biologically REAL, but they are brought on by the stress of feeling something is “off” without finding a clue as to what it is.).

      How are you doing in your marriage and how have your triggers been? That is, are they almost completely gone or do some things still trigger you? That is just a general question since every betrayed spouse has triggers and every spouse’s healing is on a different time line, which is totally their own timeline.

      Did you ever have a chance to read The Myth of Sanity? Again, the title is misleading. It’s all about how the mind works.

      Hope all is well,


    • Hopeful

      I have not read that book yet… on my list.

      Yes I totally had psycho somatic symptoms. I think it was hard to detect since his affairs were sporadic. So there would be periods where things were off then good. Very roller coaster feeling. Also for example when we were on vacation things would be great. What I reflect on is he would turn off his phone or leave it behind. Always with the explanation of not being on call while on vacation but since he told me it allowed him to not worry about being contacted by them or drawn to check their FB pages etc.

      I do think we were able to move towards recovery faster since he has “broken up” with the ow 15 months before dday on his own. He made that decision and was pulled in that direction since he knew it was so wrong what he was doing. For me this carried extra weight in the positive. He did admit he considered not telling me and asking for a divorce since he did not know how long he could go on with the secret and by doing that he would save face and look like the good guy still.

      I wish my triggers were gone or diminished. I feel like they have a strong presence still. It sometimes is betrayal related but other times general life and society related. For example with the President and the Kavanaugh hearings so many triggers. In general I do not have triggers related to worrying about his betrayal. I hate that tv shows, movies and books are like a time bomb. I feel like every time I watch or read something it has betrayal/cheating or something like that. Friends trigger me all the time with discussion. And then even more general related to our anniversary. I won’t go into the story of our anniversary this year but it was not great and still getting triggered. I find social media also causes me to be triggered. I avoid it as much as possible except when it is kid or family related.

      • Puzzled

        I think you’re about 3 years out too. I keep waiting on the triggers to disappear but certain things just seem to explode them open again. I sometimes wonder if the conversations or TV shows centered around cheating or affairs has a negative affect on my wife like they have on me.

        • Hopeful

          Puzzled, Yes I am 3 1/2 years out. I hate the triggers. I avoid so many situations. I hate social media as I mentioned, weddings, being with close friends, relatives etc. I love that I have surrounded myself with like minded people who have high morals except my husband before dday. But then marriage, relationships comes up and betrayal and fidelity always come up. Might be our age or stage in life. Or maybe before dday I didn’t even notice it.

    • Rose

      My H had no guilt that I could see. His first A many years ago: He definitely felt entitled. H thought I was having an a A myself so rather than asking me, he went out and had one himself (I wasn’t having an A, nothing even close). Then the 2nd one, he compartmentalized and rationalized that with “She needed my help!” so, you know, didn’t want to burden me with that—for 2 years. Even after I found out and he promised no contact. Just didn’t want to burden me so lied for a year and a half. Then the 3rd, his cousin—it was only “sexting”’ and dirty emails. Definitely not an A, so he said…

    • Sarah P.

      Hi Hopeful,

      Yes, many form of media can be triggering. I hate how some shows glorify affairs where other shows glorify a single life where there is one hook up after the next. What has been going on with Kavanaugh was terrible to watch.
      I avoid social media. No Facebook, no twitter, no instagram, no anything. Life is too busy and Facebook has been linked to depression. We have a policy at home where none of us have social media- not me, not my H, not our kids. My kids don’t have phones either. It helps keep the family grounded and focused on each other.

      As for your friends… do they know what happened to you? Or are they triggering you out of ignorance?

      Care to share what happened on your anniversary? I am curious because I find the longer I am married the less special anniversaries are. It’s kinda troubling. So was it one of those things? Or just rage related to what he did and still coming to terms with it. I am asking about feelings on your anniversary and not about identifying events or details. I am still trying to wrap my head around how to help betrayed spouses have positive experiences on their anniversary.

      It still bothers me that your H thought of getting a divorce so he could look like the good guy. Why was your H so invested in what others think of him?

      My theory is be a genuinely good person (don’t break the 10 commandments even if no one is looking) and let others think what they want. My H has this attachment to ensuring everyone believes his social mask. And I tell him just to drop it. People can see through social masks anyways.

      The thing that I think is most strange about many cheaters is they couldn’t stand looking themselves in the mirror if others knew. My question is- they know they are cheaters so how can they look themselves in the mirror? And if someone believes in a higher power of any kind, the higher power knows about the affair. So why on earth aren’t people freaked out that God sees everything they do and instead get freaked out if people see what they do? They are mortified if people find out they are cheaters but not mortified that a higher power knows they are a cheater. And even if someone is an atheist they themselves know the person they are looking at in the mirror is a cheater.

      Even if people don’t find out, it doesn’t magically make the deed disappear.

      Hopeful, I assume you know what the OW’s look like. Does that bother you on some level? Do you ever want to take your H by the shirt collar and say, “what on earth were you thinking?”

    • Sarah P.

      I am so sorry. I am going to be quite frank. The fact that he doesn’t appreciate you the way you deserve to be appreciated makes me angry on your behalf. But please keep talking about it. It just boggles my mind.

      I hate the excuse men use about helping women. Really? We are women and WE need help. If they want to save someone they need to save their wife and their marriage.

      The thing with the crazy cousin is the worst. Does crazy cousin know that you know? Did crazy cousin ever send nude pics to your H? If she did, get proof of that. I just cannot wrap my head around why a cousin would pursue another cousin let alone one who is married. Don’t get me wrong, yours is not the first story out there. And I had my own incident where my H had a female cousin and we were at his brothers wedding. Female cousin got drunk at the reception. My H and I were standing there (sober) and crazy cousin came to talk with her husband and children in tow. She was drunk and started flirting with my H as her own H and her kids stood there. The kids were NOT young. They were tweens and totally understood what their mom was doing. I told my husband it was time for fresh air before she did something that went to far. Was I scared she would seduce my H? No! I saw the looks on her children’s faces. They were shocked and embarrassed. I hold no ill will towards her either. I just felt that it would have been traumatic for the kids if their mom got so out of hand that they would never forget it. They live many states away and we have no contact with them. It was one of those moments where it was best to walk away for the sake of the kids. Who wants to have as a formative memory the day mom got drunk at a family wedding and professed her lust for her own cousin in front of their father. That’s crazy stuff. So we got air before it went there. I am sure my H’s crazy cousin will have more men to hit on in the future, but at least I didn’t let it get out of hand on my watch. It’s no fun for kids having a sloppy drunk parent in public saying things she can’t take back.

      So does your H’s crazy cousin contact when she is drunk or does she do this when sober? They are both crazy, but sober is crazier because when you are sober you have mental blocks in place. Has his cousin sent anything lately? And finally, why? Why on earth does a blood relative of your husband’s want to have an affair? Or is she a blood relative?

      So sorry, Rose,


    • Puzzled

      Interesting read, Sarah. Some of this nails my wife’s behavior during her affair (and probably the time leading up to it when it was just starting).
      1) Dissociation: My wife’s alleged affair partner was someone from work (no, I still don’t know who) so this falls right into things. She could disappear to work and be surrounded by chaos and trauma of a hospital. She wasn’t wife, mom, church choir member, trusted friend but whatever she decided to be. She seemed so carefree about the dissociation of our family and marriage. Long before D-day and before I had the unfortunate pleasure of learning about affairs and emotional affairs, she was acting “off”. I asked her what was wrong. She said she felt different and that sometimes people change & their feelings change for each other. She then said there have been times when I could have just packed a bag, left & never looked back. I was dumbfounded but still never suspected a thing.

      2) Compartmentalize: I’m sure she was busy trying to keep all the secrets away from the “normal” parts of her life & in their boxes. Granted, her treatment of me deteriorated as her affair grew but I didn’t know anything. I was still naive to this whole thing. Texting/talking/seeing the other guy, trying to still be “mom” at home (although my older kids also knew something was amiss), trying to be a good nurse/co-worker, still acting like the sweet honest wife/friend that she had been when we’d be around other people (boy, that one made me ill). It must have been a stressful time for her (and I hope it was).

      3) Entitlement: This one is spot on although, like most BS, I didn’t know why she felt this way. After the ILYBINILWY speech, I spoke with our pastor and she gave us the name of Christian counselor to see. I was lost. I was sad. I simply thought my wife was hurting and having a crisis of faith or who knows what. I never suspected an affair. Once again, hindsight is 20/20 when thinking about her words at the counseling session: I deserve happiness, I deserve to be in the spotlight once, I’m tired of just being “mom”, when will everything be for me? I deserve my happiness no matter what. I was floored. We were great friends in college and didn’t date until our last semester. But, we were happy. We liked each other. I should have know something was up but, as I said, I would never suspect her of an affair. It just wasn’t “us”.

      5) Victim mentality: This one hits home too. And I’m not making these things up: My wife told me and told our counselor that most of her unhappiness stemmed from…the fact that I was nice. I was too nice. I always helped around the house or took the kids to church when she worked. Everyone said that I was a good catch/she was lucky to have me and then she’d get back to #3 when would it be her turn to be the good catch and someone was lucky to have her. I looked at her like she was an alien. I told her “I have always loved you and told you how lucky I am to have you”. I guess that wasn’t enough but what can you do. I remember talking with her at home when she was treating me like dirt and she even said again how nice I was and it drove her nuts. I said “do you want me to do something terrible”? I told her tell people that I hit her or cheated on her. Her response sums me up though: nobody would believe that because they know you and your heart.

      Sometimes I wish I could have compartmentalized and dissociated during the affair. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so miserable every day/night. I guess that my way to cope was focusing on our kids and staying in shape. It’s three years out from D-day but she didn’t end it right away. I really don’t know how much longer it lasted. We are better but I still have triggers. Words stay with us long after they are forgotten by the person who said them. She said some things to me that I pray someday I will forget. Unfortunately, they still sting. An affair after 20 years of marriage. Ugh

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Puzzled,

        I am so glad to see you back and thank you for sharing your experience in such detail. It is heartbreaking but it gives me an idea about what your wife was thinking.

        But, first, I wanted to give you an opinion. I never expect people to take my opinions or my advice. Only they know what it right for them, so it’s okay if you don’t agree. So here is my opinion, it really bothers me that you don’t know the identity of the affair partner. If I were in your situation I would hire a private detective. I think it is WRONG to keep the identity of the affair partner a secret. But, I can wager a guess on what the affair partner might have been like, given that your wife is a nurse at a hospital. I hate the medical industry because many people employed in it get more focused on coworkers than patients. All kinds of hospital affairs occur. I will never forget this colleague my husband had– a doctor who had gone off his bipolar medication. My husband had the guy on speakerphone and the guy was acting really weird. Anyhow, the guy congratulated my husband about my husband’s new job which was part of a larger hospital. The guy said, “I envy you… the great thing about working in hospitals is if you find a nurse you want to bang, you can always say you had to work late and there is no way for wives to know.” My husband took the guy off of speakerphone after that. About a week after that, the guy my husband was talking to showed up at my husband’s job. The MD was having a full manic episode. This MD went and got all of this cash out of his bank account, put it in a brief case, and came to my husbands work and was throwing it all over the lobby, giving it to strangers, and then he came into the area where my H worked and the MD was giving huge wads of cash to everyone there. My H called security and had the MD put into a locked-in mental ward and my H collected the cash the MD had given everyone and brought it to the MD’s wife who worked in the same hospital. These folks were about 20 years older than us. So, anyhow, I hate the culture of hospitals because of that. Many nurses have affairs with MDs. Almost all MD’s are married or engaged. There is a big mystique around MDs. People assume their lives are so much different than everyone else’s. The nurses assume the wives of MD’s have lives like the Housewives of Orange County. I don’t have cable, but I know someone who watches it and she talks about it. Most MD’s are up to their necks in debt and if they are family docs, like my H, they do not get paid what others MD’s get paid. When I worked, I made twice my husband’s income. I was in the software industry. But, the nurses only see an image and they create this story in their minds about these doctors and how they live these awesome lives and how their wives probably wear designer dresses all day and look like Barbie dolls and attend parties for the elite. LOLZZZZZZ. There is not an ounce of truth unless an MD is one of those Beverly Hills MD’s who have their own TV shows. Maybe they live that way but the rest don’t. I only know one wife of an MD who lives for materialism. She spends 15k a month on designer clothing. They don’t have the $$ so her husband works overtime.

        I would assume the affair partner your wife saw was married. And she probably imagined what the other wife (allegedly) had.

        Puzzled, if you want to email me off-line, I have some ideas for you from a Christian perspective. I don’t like to force my spiritual beliefs on others by posting them publicly. I have a way to pray about this if you want to hear it. There are also books for Christian couples.

        [email protected]


        PS- This thing about your wife saying you are too nice… that ticks me off. All I hear from single women all day is there are no nice men out there. Sometimes when they meet a nice man, they tell me he is too nice. I am NOT talking about people I speak with on this site. I am talking about things I have seen in real life throughout my life. If you weren’t nice, your wife could have used the “I am so abused by my husband” card. Yes, there are women out there who are abused. However, I have factual information (based on research) that indicates married women who have affairs will lure in a married man by saying her husband is a wife beater. That way the male target wants to be a knight in shining armor. Also, one time I heard a female spouse poacher talk at length about her abusive husband. He was abusive because he didn’t want her draining the bank account by constantly shopping for trinkets and other things they didn’t need. That proved he was a mean husband. (She was warped). So, either way, a betrayed husband doesn’t win. The game is rigged. The female wayward spouse will turn what is normally an asset (like kindness) into a detriment. Also, male wayward spouses do this too.

    • Hopeful

      Puzzled, I wish I could compartamentalize like my husband. Of erase my memory. He is so much better at it. I know deep down he feels it but it is different. We have a lot in common but since betrayal less than I thought. I am more jaded now. He says I am negative and he chooses to focus on the positive. I know he means that he selfishly does not want me feeling so negative about the world. If I see it this way he knows it is because of him. I really try my hardest but lots of current things out there now make it hard.

    • Hopeful

      Sarah, I agree with your comments and thoughts regarding social media. My husband has zero now, I have some and continue to decrease it, our kids have some but it is limited and we look at it together often.

      My friends do not know anything about what happened. No one does. What triggers me is conversation seems to end up on betrayal. We have very similar thinking and they have zero tollerence. So things will get said about how they cannot believe some wife is with their husband after a year long affair. How could she not tell, how could she take him back, etc…

      As far as your anniversary it is the absence of anything. My husband had a guys trip that time of year. This year it fell on the day. I am flexible and can celebrate on other days. I have always been someone that the thought matters the most. He got home on our anniversary and never even mentioned it. There are a million things he could have done that required little thought. And money is not an issue even though I did not have any gift expectations. Wrapped up in all of this during what i call the affair years I have stacks of cards, poems and amazing gifts.he has told me those feelings were real and also he had to do it basically to play the good husband role. He also has never cared about any holiday or birthday whether it is celebrated or acknowledged. Then I think should we ever celebrate. I fake being happy when our kids talk about us meeting or our wedding. It makes me sad. And the. I see and know others who have either amazing celebrations or they spend their anniversary together professing their love. I know it might not be valid but it makes me sad and confused.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Hopeful,

        I do not blame you for being sad and confused. I do agree it’s the thought that counts and I cannot believe that your husband never mentioned it. That would wound me terribly. Has he said anything?

        It is also difficult to be around friends who are talking about affairs all the time and you are not able to talk about what happened. Here is a question– was that your decision not to tell people or was that his decision? Or was it mutual? As I recall, your children don’t know either and that’s why they talk about how you met and your wedding. Is he worried it would endanger his reputation as Mr. Nice Guy who makes all the money single-handedly? (As I recall, he did not want you to mention when you make income for yourself. Sigh.) That makes me sad.

        Honestly, you are a better woman than me. Keeping such a thing inside would hurt too much.

        I wonder why he doesn’t care about birthdays or holidays. But, I will give you a little hint about my own life. When I first got married, I was shocked that my husband expected such a different day-to-day life than the one I had. For example, every night we had a sit down meal as a family. The TV was off. We set the dining table and served the food in nice serving bowls. My dad was a professor and my mom was staying at home after she retired from broadcasting. Professors are not wealthy. But, my mom had a very nice wedding set of dishes and bowls and my dad’s parents were always buying us nice things. So, even though we were always on a budget, we had formal dinners every day with home-cooked food and a beautifully set table. We talked the whole time and lingered. Then we cleaned up and did the dishes and hung out in the living room the rest of the night. We did this every day. On holidays my mom brought out the antique silver she had inherited and goblets dating back to the Victorian era. We were not wealthy, but we lived in a way that was very dignified and gracious. Our home was always spotless and my mom knew how to decorate on a budget. Money or not, I had manners, I walked with straight shoulders, dressed well when I needed to, called adults Mr. and Mrs., and had traveled a LOT and had a large vocabulary. The travel happened when my dad’s parents paid for us all to go on trips together, or we did driving road trips in the summer and stayed at budget motels. To this day, people assume I grew up in a wealthy home. That is a huge NO. Anyone in my family who did have money acquired it solely from hard work. There were no inheritances or fortunes for anyone. Each person from my family immigrated to the United States at one time or another as a poor immigrant and worked hard until they got what they needed. The poverty my mom’s mom experienced as a child is unfathomable. It hurts just to think about it. She was born before the great depression. They were subsistence farmers and had to grow their own food or they didn’t eat. There was no birth control so kids kept coming. My grandma (mom’s mom) was being a mom at the age of 4-years-old. At 4-years-old she knew how to bake bread, prepare basic meals, and attend to the younger children. And if she didn’t do it right, she got whipped. She did not pass this abuse down through the family. My mom and all her siblings put themselves through college without any help. Their parents had no help to give. My dad’s parents had money because each had somehow lucked out because both put themselves through college on scholarships, both had excellent jobs through the Great Depression, both were huge savers, investors, and lived below their means so that they could have a great retirement and money for nursing homes. They paid for my dad to go to college and he had a good start because of that. I also put myself through college through scholarships and while working two jobs that took 30 hours a week.

        I was raised to be very gracious, to be dignified, and was raised to be a lady, but we did not have the kind of money others had. Still, we had those formal dinners every night. I tried to do the same thing with my husband. I tried for two years straight then I gave up. I would call him to figure out when he was leaving work and by the time he came home, he had a beautiful, home-cooked dinner waiting for him on the dining table. He found every excuse not to sit down. He would putter until the food got cold. Or if he started eating, he would get up randomly and not come back. I would ask what to do differently and he would have no suggestions. He simply refused to sit at the dining table and eat. Period. He wanted to eat in the living room in front of the TV, so we did. When it came to birthdays or holidays, he would get very worked up. If there was a formal dinner to be had, he would get agitated and end up leaving the table. Or he would get bossy and pick an argument with one of our kids. For our birthdays, he and I would get each other cards and go to dinner. For kids birthdays, he wanted them done the way they were done when he was a kid. His parents had relatives at his birthday parties, but no friends. Since my kids didn’t care if they had friends or not, we would have cake with my parents (and sometimes his parents.) Then there would be presents and that would be it. After the years, things started getting strange because my H would always get upset on birthdays, mothers days, fathers days, and holidays. He was always so uptight he would pick a fight with my oldest and the day would get ruined. One day my mom asked me to ask my husband what birthdays, holidays and dinners were like at his house when he was a child.

        And here is how it was for my husband:

        -His mom made food at some point and heated it up and he and his mom ate alone in the living room. His dad was gone before he woke up and home after he went to bed. His dad ate alone when he got home.

        -Birthdays were spent solely with his parents, his brother, and his grandparents. No neighborhood children were allowed. He was expected to sit at a formal dining room table and fake excitement when someone gave him a random present. If he wasn’t excited enough, he got yelled at and the present got taken away or thrown in the garbage by his mom.

        -Mother’s Day: If he did anything less than worship his mom to the fullest degree during that day, he was punished for the next month.

        -Father’s Day: Rarely since his dad always worked

        -His mom’s birthday: He needed to double the amount of time he worshipped his mom on mother’s day and had to worship her (times two) on her birthday. If he failed, he was punished for three months.

        They didn’t celebrate major holidays. His parents had immigrated when they were in their early 20’s.

        I started asking my husband more about what birthdays were like, how they made him feel etc. His birthdays were nightmares. I asked about all those sit down dinners alone with “mommy dearest.” Well, those were inquisition sessions where anything and everything about him was fair game to criticize and analyze.

        And anytime in the past we had the mistake of having a sit down dinner with his parents, it would go something like this (and this is a true story): My h’s mom would have photos of my husband in his teens and 20’s. She would pass them around the dinner table. She would point out how handsome he was and we would agree. Then, my MIL would say, “Look at him now… he hasn’t been wearing his retainer or whitening his teeth, he has gained too much weight and look at those gray hairs. Don’t you think he looks terrible, Sarah?” And I would squeeze my husband’s hand and say, “He is the most handsome man I have ever met and he always will be. I think he gets better looking each year and I am grateful for him.” Then, my MIL would argue with me and call me stupid for not being able to see what she sees. Then a fight would break out and the table and I would get up and leave. That is only one story of the “mistake of sit down dinners” with my husband’s parents. I have WORSE stories. That is only one of many.

        Long ago, I gave up doing things my way and gave up. There are no dinners at the dinner table. Everyone eats on the couch. I gave up on birthday parties except cake and presents for the kids. Now we go to Thanksgiving dinner out. Everything that I had as a good memory from childhood was attached to a bad memory for my husband. That is the crux of why he has acted out.

        Now any kind of holiday or birthday is so low-key, we hardly celebrate it. My kids don’t want those massive parties at bowling alleys or bouncy castle places. I always offer but they say they just want presents. And so it goes.

        Hopeful, back to your husband. People’s childhoods are not always as they seem. I would really like to know what kind of experiences your husband had on holidays and birthdays and where the root of not caring about them came from. Most people I know have huge celebrations. If it’s any consolation, one Mother’s Day about 2 years ago, my husband forgot to buy cards and flowers. (That’s all I want, cards specifically. I don’t even need flowers). But, he forgot and I started crying. He said something lame like, “Well, you know you are a mom and we all love you.” Then I went and asked for time alone to decompress. I don’t cry around others or show strong emotions around others, except for when I love them. Then I will tell them how much I love them and how much they mean to me. But, I am not a yeller. Never have been. When I need to cry, I go and cry alone. I do not cry to make other people feel guilty, that’s why I cry alone. When I cry it’s because I am deeply wounded and I go somewhere alone where I can have a good cry. Eventually, he went to Safeway and brought the kids and bought some cards and roses. I was thankful. But, at that point I was also wondering why bother.

        So I am very sorry for how your anniversary turned out. Do you ever get filled with rage? Do you know who Louise Hay is? The founder of Hay House publishing? She has wonderful books. I read a blog post she wrote a while ago and she said when rage rises up, go punch pillows and scream as loud as you need to. All this coming from a woman who was so ‘zen’ on the outside. Even she acknowledges that we must get anger and rage out- but we need to do so correctly.

        Big hugs,

        • Hopeful

          I could have written much of your post.

          It is my choice to not tell anyone about my husband’s affairs. He was very open with me that it was my decision. I do believe he felt that way. And honestly it would be a big issue most with my parents. He says his parents and sibling would freak out but I am not so sure. I am 50/50 on that. I do think they would be shocked since they put him on a pedestal. One quick story when things were very off with us but I could not figure out why I mentioned it to his sibling. It was probably the wrong audience but the only person I ever reached out to. Well I got told how amazing he is and how lucky I am compared to others especially. My primary reason for not telling anyone is the kids. I just do not feel there is anyone I can tell that would keep it secret, understand, empathize or be able to help/support me. I do not know anyone that has gone through it. Based on talking with my closest friends they fall in line with society and no second chances. I know they would be kind and do the best to help me. Also my closest friends are our closet couple and family friends. I know this would change everything. I do not think it would be for the better.

          Professionally I honestly think it could help. Sort of that I have been there and can relate aspect.

          Growing up just like me birthdays were not a huge deal. I would say our experience was similar. I will say that I have witnessed his father is so thoughtful and kind about his wife and celebrations. He actually goes what I would consider over the top with gifts. He is also affectionate too. My family was minimal with gifts. We also always ate at home and spent a lot of time together like your family. It was more about the thought or experience. And I understand not going over board or having huge birthdays every year. I would say he is more supportive of celebrating for our kids birthdays but it falls on me. He does not complain about it. My kids are not very demanding either.

          What stands out to me is for years I would get nothing for mother’s day. And what he would say to me was “You are not my mother why would I get you a gift.” Granted I was not looking for a gift from him but when your kids are little just like your example they cannot go out and buy anything even the smallest item. I would have even been happy if he said to my kids “let’s sit down and make a card”. Or what about typing something on the computer or using stickers. I mean it could have been the most simple effort. So I have felt the same way on Mother’s Day as you have. I too feel the same as you deeply hurt. I do not express my feelings in rage. I too want to be left alone and cry alone. So similar.

          My husband over the years has used the “my parents did not do it that way”. Whether it is about day to day life between us, our kids or whatever. I always say I am not married to them and my goal is not to be like anyone else. I am very conscientious to not do exactly as my parents did. I have worked hard to learn from them and take the good but adapt to my life. Some things they taught me I have implemented in my daily life. Other aspects no way. I do not use it as a blanket excuse for my behavior. I could explain in a logical way why how they taught me to save and invest is what I feel best for our family. It is not tied to my emotions though but based on experience, education and continued learning.

          We also have the same thing regarding eating dinner…. What I find hard is before marrying each other we spoke about all of these things. I guess it was just to abstract. Now in day to day life and with age it is a different story.

          And back to your original question. On our anniversary we talked about it. I was very upset and brought it up to him. He is very good at “falling on the sword”. I got a long explanation that he was sorry, how he gets too busy over the summer with social commitments with friends, distracted by the kids, too busy at work and he fell short and should have acknowledged it at a minimum. He has brought it up since and continues to reflect how bad he messed up. I do not bring it up. My way to cope is never to complain but I distance myself. I know it is a way of self protectionism and avoiding being vulnerable. I feel like I question what he does that it will be fake. He says he will never do anything to be fake as evidenced by how he treated this anniversary. He only does what he wants…

          • Sarah P.

            Hi Hopeful,

            I wish your H would do the right thing in the first place instead of falling on his sword after the fact.

            As for you being “lucky” to be with him, no, he is “lucky” to be with you. Those people who tell you that you are lucky see his social face. They don’t see who he really is. And it’s very hurtful as a wife to hear they are so lucky to be with a man when they know what a man is really like when no one else is looking.

            There was a phrase my ex had and I hated it but never argued it. He would do things at work that crossed the line, such as putting very expensive dinners on the company charge card. I would tell him to stop doing it because it was not ethical. He said something to the effect of: “Do whatever you want and if someone questions you, ask for forgiveness later.”

            Well, stupid me didn’t understand what a huge red flag that was. And also I do NOT live my life that way. I always ask for permission first and discuss things openly. If my H doesn’t agree with something, I don’t do whatever I want. I stick to my promises.

            I wonder how many people are out there who do what they want and ask for forgiveness later.

            Hopeful, do you think there will come a time when you can confide in someone? I cannot imagine how lonely it might be not to be able to share these things with good friends.

            You are a better person than me because I cannot keep such shocking things inside. I have to bounce it off a trusted confidante, otherwise I can’t take the stress. How do you hold it together? I admire you for being able to do so.

            As for families, yes it was nice spending family time as a child. The things I remember most as a kid where those road trips that we took in our car and stayed at whatever Motel 6 we found. Where we stayed and riding in the car didn’t matter. Family time mattered. I look around these days and realize kids don’t play anymore and most parents don’t play with their kids. What a sad society we have turned into.

            How has your week been?


    • Kay

      Thank you for this article and sharing so much. Hopeful & Sarah I can relate with a lot of what you said.
      My husband did not have a good childhood and has an extremely controlling narcissistic mother. But he did not see anything until he really got into counseling after the affair.
      His AP mirrored his mom in many ways. She played the damsel in distress & then would brow beat him abt what he did or how he did it. Creating a familiar cycle for him where he needed to work for approval that truly never came.
      My H affair started on a drunken night away from home and he says the guilt killed him so much. He was gone for a 3 day weekend but came home noticeably thinner (9 lbs to be exact) at the time he said food poisoning but says he was sick to his stomach with guilt.
      After coming home he contacted her to check her disease history (they had mutual friends) and she laid on the guilt & badgering – how could you ask me that? What are saying abt me? You’re a jerk? I’m so hurt, etc. He was then back in the cycle of childhood and wanted to make it up to her as “friends”. Needless to say that wasn’t good enough for her & she began pursuing him sexually. When he resisted she told him to be a man and what’s the difference he was already a cheater.
      He then fell into a cycle where he would feel guilty and horrible abt himself so he would act out with her thru rough sex to “release” his pain. He would dissociate with reality and convinced himself how much he deserved this.
      Please note that prior to this we had been together 21 years and had a pretty good marriage, were best friends and had a regular enjoyable sex life.
      My H most definitely compartmentalized as the A took place during his lunch breaks so he would convince himself he wasn’t hurt me cuz it didn’t take time away from me, he was lying through omission and he still fulfilled all of his dad duties, pickups drop offs etc.
      but I totally felt something was off. Without one hard piece of evidence my gut was completely out of wack. And when I would try to tell him what he felt he would either explode or gaslight. I truly couldn’t understand what was happening. After almost 5 months I found a counselor cuz I was truly starting to feel like I was going crazy. He asked to come with me. We only had 2 sessions before I found out. Concidentally on a Sunday night after another unexplainable blow up I spoke to my sister who shared her H had recently had an affair and she encouraged me to look into the phone records. I saw the same number texted thousands of times while he was at work. I figured out who the number belonged to and was able to piece together that she was on the trip. That Monday night at our session without him knowing I had found out already he confessed his “mistake” and that he ended it with her that day but at the time I didn’t view it as a confession which during the beginning recovery added to our disconnect as he felt he did right by confessing and ending it in his own but I couldn’t see what that meant as I had discovered alone which truly traumatized me.

      All this to say through our now 23 month recovery we have seen all of whar was described in the article. Entitlement, dissociation and compartmentalizations were used for his survival. When his walks drop he cries uncontrollably and expresses truly hate for himself. He has even shared how contaplated suicide many times during the affair to spare me the pain of finding out.
      It’s been a rough road but he has been doing the work, seeing the counselor his walls still go up especially when I’m triggered or flooding. But like the email said I’ve had to work through how to express my anger & rage cuz many of my ways only sabotaged my healing.

      Everyday is better than the last and I can truly see the difference time makes. As well as reading this articles, knowing I’m not alone and having names to put on my feelings & what’s happening. Thank you!!

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Kay,

        Welcome! So glad you are getting names to put your feelings to. Once we have a name for it, we can overcome it.

        Kay, so sorry your H was having an affair. There is something I have come to believe, based on pattern recognition and based on the idea that subconsciously many people marry a person either identical to an abusive parent OR the opposite of an abusive parents. This truly is done on a subconscious level. Since the person was never able to receive the love and validation they received from an abusive parent, they marry someone just the opposite hoping that spouse can heal the wound left by the abusive parent. Well, a kind spouse can be kind, but they cannot heal the wound left by the parent. Only therapy can do that OR the abusive parent can do that if the abusive parent ever has insight. (Very unlikely). Or, the person marries someone just like the abusive parent and attempts to turn that abusive spouse into a nice spouse. If they are able to do this, they prove to themselves their relationship with their abusive parent can be healed, which is an illusion. Also, it is unlikely they well get an abusive spouse to stop being abusive. Either way it goes, the adult child of an abusive parent marries someone opposite to the parent OR just like the parent. If they marry someone opposite than the abusive parent, they will be able to bask in the light of someone truly loving them for the first time. However….once they bask in that love, they have no framework through which to interact with that kind person they married. Their frameworks were built in childhood and they learned how to live within an abusive context. They learned ho to live from day to day and knew what to expect. Now they are not in an abusive home and it can sometimes feel uncomfortable because they are not used to it. It doesn’t feel “familiar.” They feel safe, but they don’t know what to do with “safe.” Here is the paradox. At some point they might meet someone of the opposite gender who is just like the abusive parent. Now THAT feels familiar. And on a subconscious level they have an affair to prove that they can make an abusive person love them. Uh… it never works out that way. Abusive people don’t know how to love unless they go to therapy, of their own volition, and spend years learning how to love. So, people who are abusive cannot love unless they go to therapy and learn. Until then, they can want you urgently (to fill a hole in their soul) in their own kind of dysfunctional way that they think is love, but it is not love…. even if they think it is. So, it is very common for an adult who was abused in childhood to either marry a replica of the abusive parent or the opposite. Either way, they are open to having affairs because they were never given the love or validation they needed to get from a parent in childhood. They need therapy because spouses CANNOT fix it. Ask me how I know? I am married to an adult child of a profoundly abusive mom. I have attempted to fill him up for years, but it never really sinks in. Plus, every time he talks to that abusive parent, he gets massively triggered and that sets him back about a month in whatever headway he made into feeling more healthy. We have had periods of time in our marriage where he was happy and he could actually feel filled up by my unconditional kindness and he could feel at peace. All it takes is one text or one phone call with his mom for him to go into full insecurity and anger mode. (I don’t allow anger in my house unless it is “righteous anger” like the Bible speaks of. People are allowed to be filled with rage over true injustices such as someone snatching the neighbor’s child and having that child come home in a body bag. People are allowed to have rage over being betrayed– that is righteous anger). I don’t allow the kind of anger that is directed at innocent people, like children, because my H has rage triggered by childhood. I ask him to take a walk or a drive. And I do have righteous anger when my H has an argument with his mom and it affects our marriage.

        So, when people are married to spouses who had abusive childhoods, there will always be an issue. How it will manifest? It all depends. But sometimes it manifests as an affair because they think they can work out their abusive relationship with their parent by choosing an affair partner like their parent. It makes NO SENSE to those of us who did not grow up in abusive homes. Because you can’t make sense of something that is IRRATIONAL.

        Kay, you are allowed to rage all you want. Just find proper outlets.

        Here is a good way to work out rage. (Please know this is satirical in nature and you are supposed to laugh…). You get a full body picture of the affair partner. Then you hire someone to turn it into one of those cardboard humans that are made to scale (like in movie theaters.) In fact, you probably want to make several of these full scale cardboard cut outs of the affair partner. When your wayward spouse isn’t around, you can draw a bullseye on them and use their cardboard cut out to play a good, old-fashioned game of darts. Or, you could get a 12 inch photo of the affair partner’s face and you could tape it to one of those punchable clowns that are kids toys. Also those cardboard cut outs might make a nice addition to the mud room laying down on the floor (since the affair partner probably spent a lot of time laying down). You can always wipe your muddy boots on them. If your cat scratches the couch, just put one of those cardboard cut outs near the cat so the cat can use it as its new scratching post. In a bind, and if you run out of kitty litter, you could shred the cardboard cut out and put it in the litter-box in a pinch. Ahhh– there are so many creative things you can do with a picture of the affair partner. Who knew a photo of them could be so useful? I think we could even consult Martha Stewart on some creative ways to use photos of affair partners. Again, all of that was a JOKE. If you don’t laugh, then you end up crying. I was watching a documentary the other day on several famous comedians. I forget who said it, but one of them remarked the best humor comes from profound pain. That was the comedian’s experience at least. It was an interesting insight.

        Kay, does your H have any remorse about any of this? Does he care about your suffering?


    • Sarah P.

      PS- I wrote something ambiguous.

      “Since the person was never able to receive the love and validation they received from an abusive parent, they marry someone just the opposite hoping that spouse can heal the wound left by the abusive parent.”

      I needed to clear up that statement because it made no sense because I didn’t give it enough context.

      There are two things I meant here and I phrased it terribly.

      -Children are not able to receive REAL love and validation from abusive parents because abusers don’t know how to truly love.

      -Sometimes abusive parents will provide their own version of what they believe is love and validation to their child (BUT it is not actually love and validation). It has nothing to do with actual love and validation. So even if an abusive parent sends their own version of love/validation, a child will not be able to receive it as such since it’s not. Abusers don’t know what real love is or how to give it, even if an abuser believes they know how to love.

      One time my husband told me something off the wall. He said, “The people we hurt the most are the people we love the most.” This was in the first year of marriage and I called FOUL on that one immediately and I asked who told him such a thing. Well, it was his mom who told him that after she beat him. I told him that was completely incorrect and it was an abusive act and gas-lighting. It sets a precedent for someone to beat a child/spouse and say, “I only beat you because I love you more than anyone else.” UH NO. BULLSHIT. Total horse crap. I told my husband that kind of thinking will NEVER fly in my household and that no matter what his mom said, he will not repeat it the words or the behavior. I told him he must be the kindest to the people he loves the most. That’s what NORMAL people do. So, I don’t allow him to bring such bullshit philosophies in from his childhood.

      • Hopeful

        This reminds me of a conversation with my husband. He said after doing what he did to the person he loved most (cheating on me) he spiraled downward. He knew it was that wrong but did not know how to rectify it even with all of his resources. He said it hurt him that bad the first time he cheated on me. Basically he had to tell himself whatever he had to in order to not feel like a POS on a daily basis. I have learned that he tells himself whatever he needs to feel okay about himself. SIgh…

        • Sarah P.

          Hi Hopeful,

          That is sad to hear what your husband did. Many people will do that (tell themselves a story) rather than own up to behavior. I am going to assume that your H lived a consequence-free childhood and never learned to develop boundaries. And I think it would be better if you H allowed himself to feel like a POS when he does POS things or says them.

    • Elizabeth

      This article is so true! Before I discovered that my husband is actually a sex Addict and compulsively unfaithful (while not actually wanting to pursue that kind of relationship with me, his wife) I would have very anxious times without knowing what triggered it. Now of course I do know and as he will never admit to it but gaslights me so I think I’m crazy as his dissociation/compartmentalisation is such that I almost think he believes himself. I’m sure he has told my MIL that I have accused him unjustly as when we visited her overseas (lucky she lives overseas) she was truly awful to me as no doubt she thinks I am a cold unfeeling wife who randomly accuses her poor innocent husband of being a cheater! He is always having little tantrums where he tells me how depressing it is that I can’t greet him warmly when he comes home from work. I have to see the ow every week at church mind you where she tries to be friendly and my husband admonishes me for being unfriendly to her!!! She is the second ow in 2 years mind you as his addiction is getting worse. I don’t have definitive evidence as the detective I hired charged me $3K and basically did nothing! though I ha e found hotel receipts for 2 people on his room on business trips and there has been menstrual blood on our quilt cover (oh yes he brings her home to my bed when I’m at work) that is not mine!

      • Sarah P.


        Big hugs to you. I cannot tell you how sorry I am to hear you are in this situation.

        Let’s look at the key components of your situation and please understand I am, angry at your H for doing what he is doing to you:

        -Husband doesn’t want to pursue a physical relationship with you (if I read that correctly)

        -Husband is a sex addict (but won’t do it with you (his wife), if I understood it correctly).

        -Husband is a compulsive cheater due to his (alleged) sex addiction. (I doubt he is a sex addict, but I would need to know more to find out for sure. Sex addiction is the new ‘get out of jail free card’ for so many people.)

        -Husband has an affair with someone at church (that’s evil in and of itself and he needs to be kicked out of church).

        -I imagine husband tells “mommy” that you are a cold and unfeeling wife and so she treats you terribly. And I imagine he tells his “mommy” he doesn’t understand why you are so cold (sniff) because he is the perfect husband who works hard all day long. And I imagine he tells mommy he is so upset that you can’t greet him at the door after work the way a Pomeranian greets its master at the door. I imagine his mother is horrified and secretly thinks of buying you a Pomeranian costume for Christmas, so that she can teach you how to greet her son at the door the way he deserves to be greeted. (And his mom can also remind you of your status that way too– you are no more than a pet who has to wag its body around in circles, jump and do tricks on command, and run around on all fours. Maybe you can get an agent too). (I am BEING SATIRICAL here).

        -Husband has sex in your marital bed from a woman who attends your church. (So wrong).

        -Husband is upset that you are NOT all fake smiles toward the other woman at church who knows your marital bed better than you do. (So double wrong).

        -Your husband and the OW are breaking the commandment “thou shalt now commit adultery,” the fact that they are at church makes this all okay and so why aren’t you smiling? (I am being sarcastic). Usually this is the case where God starts throwing lightening bolts. Oh wait, that’s Odin… Take two: Since we are talking about the Bible here, the One God does not suffer fools. Breaking a commandment and NOT repenting, then having the audacity to show up at church, causes people to get their names removed from the “Book of Life.” When they show up at the Four Seasons in the clouds and ask to get through the gates, they are promptly escorted away by angels with swords and quickly dispatched to an elevator that goes DOWN.

        -Menstrual blood on a quilt cover…. oh boy, that has a lot of implications. Not only was H having a physical relationship with another woman, it was during that woman’s “cycle” and if a woman has any kind of disease that can be passed via blood, well, that has even bigger implications for health reasons. There is a remote chance he could get a disease and give it to you.

        But truly… that is GROSS. Having sex with someone other than your spouse in the marital bed and leaving body fluids is as low as it goes. It is time to install hidden cameras. You can buy a small and motion activated camera and there is an app called “my d-link lite.” It records everything and you can view it on your phone 24/7. The app is password protected, so if your H were to try to get into the app, he would be out of luck. Of course, don’t tell anyone you know you have installed a camera. (People like to gossip). You can choose to keep the videos to view the recordings later via the D-link app. Some states don’t allow a spouse to secretly record another. You get around that by hiring a technician to install it.

        Some might be thinking I am not playing nice and should be giving more forgiving advice. However, it’s like this: affairs break the marital contract.

        But, having sex in the marital bed and the OW leaving blood behind for the wife to see is just beyond gross and it is a threat to your health. I have no words for how nasty that is on so many levels. Having such an experience would make me go NUCLEAR.

        My ex ensured there was no proof anywhere, except for the fact that his affair with her gave me cervical cancer. But, cervical cancer is not the kind of proof you can see immediately, such as proof from hidden cameras.


        Elizabeth, how are you coping in the day-to-day? Are there children involved? How are you going to get through this? Do you have a therapist to speak with? A good friend? I am really worried about you (despite the sarcastic comments). There are some people who do such wrong things (like your H) that I can’t write about it without using some form of sarcasm or satire. These things are just so heinous.

        How can we help you?

        Does anyone have some tips for Elizabeth?


    • Kay

      Sarah, thank you for your reply. Yes we have learned through our therapy how true what you’ve explained in. My H has repeatedly said how he quickly feel in love with me for charactersitics we now realize were drastically different from his mom and every other woman he was ever with. He has had me a pedestal and definitely looked for me to fix him. Which of course I could not. But ironically I on the other hand was trying to fix him cuz my parents divorced when I was 12 and my father slowly disappeared from my life after that. (Our daughter was 12 when I learned about the affair and part of my pain was in the fear that my children were now going to have a repeat of my life. The timing was too painfully coincidental)

      My H feels tremendous remorse for what he did and has been able at times to really express that. Again when he gets triggered or overcome with shame he rages and I get left feeling abandoned all over again. Even if he’s physical still here he was emotionally checked out & my feelings & needs go unheard & ignored.

      He says & I believe he truly feels that the affair was a huge mistake. He never went back after I found out nor did she really pursue. He thinks it’s cuz he did a good job finally standing up to her which I think he needs to feel as that is part of the work he needs to do with his mom. I think it’s cuz the fun & power was taken from her with my knowing. (I told our mutual friends who didn’t have nice things to say to her and caused some of her friendships to change)

      But as I said before we are both doing the work & therapy. We do more individual than couple with the same therapist cuz he thinks we need to work on ourselves more so and it will greatly impact our relationship. It’s still hard especially since it’s taking him longer to get to where I am but I know it’s not from lack of love for me it’s from his sounds being so much deeper than mine.

      • Sarah P.


        I am glad that you and your husband are doing well in couple’s therapy. You are right about the timing being painfully coincidental. It’s a mom’s worst fear: having her children live the life she ensured they would never live, but then having an experience where children might repeat that life anyways. It’s just terrible.

        It’s interesting that both you and your husband had your wounds. Like a good person, you wanted to help him despite your own hurt.

        I am sorry that you have to experience his rages. You are right that those rages he has come from shame. And he needs to walk away or take a drive when the rage rises up.

        The thing with men who have had these insanely dysfunctional moms, is they have to stand up to their moms (or someone who symbolizes their mom such as the OW who is just like the mom) and they have to say NO. These dysfunctional moms take away their son’s masculinity by being able to control their sons. When a man’s masculinity is taken, it causes shame in him. That shame causes RAGE. And a man will be angry at all women (including his wife) until he stands up to his mom OR does some kind of healing work where he is able to work through the trauma his mom caused. The rage that husbands/fiances who had affairs direct it at us but it was not caused by us. It was caused by the original woman who harmed them: their mom. Their moms were supposed to protect them, but instead they harmed them. Men are never allowed to speak out against their moms, especially not allowed to speak out against the “mommy dearest’s of the world.” What I mean by that is if they do, they will be silenced by guilt, by other family members, or both.

        The second man I dated in college had a crazy mom. He was a very attractive and very quiet guy with large, dark eyes. He liked to read a lot, but he and I connected and he was able to be at ease around me. We laughed a lot and had fun hanging out. To the world, his mom was a successful medical professional, but cruel behind closed doors. His dad traveled for his job and was not home, so he was raised by his mom. His mom was very moody and controlling.

        He told me that his most important thing (toy) in his life when he was 4-years-old was a Mickey Mouse his grandparents gave him. He wore it all the time, kept it clean, and was so happy and proud of it. (Isn’t that sweet?) Can’t you just picture a little boy with giant dark eyes making sure his Mickey Mouse watch stayed clean? And can’t you visualize him showing adults his watch and excitedly showing how Micky’s arms pointed at the time?

        Well he told me that one night (that when he was 4-years-old) before dinner, his mom was in a bad mood and said she couldn’t stand to hear his watch ticking. So she ripped it off his wrist, smashed it with her foot, and threw it away. He cried and she did not care.

        When he and I first starting dating, I remember him calling me in tears and asking to sit by the river so we could talk. I met him at the river. Well, he had a dog that he had grown up with since he was a child. This dog was his only comfort in life and the dog was one of the smaller breeds that can live 18 years. Well, his mom had made the decision herself to take the dog to the vet and put it to sleep. He had no idea the dog was sick, was not informed that she wanted to put the dog to sleep, and was told only after the dog had been cremated. he was devastated. But, that was his mom. She literally destroyed all he loved, whether it was a Mickey Mouse watch or the dog that had meant everything to him. She is an evil woman. And if my parents had ever done that to a pet of mine, I would have gone nuts. But then I don’t have parents like that. Our animals are our family members.

        What was sad is that he and I could have been married. That is a long and heartbreaking story as to why we were not. Neither of us had an affair. Far from it. His parents were so completely fooled and blinded by their own misinterpretations of something that occurred between him and me. As a result, a great sin was committed by them. Though “allegedly” Christians they did and said the most unChristian things. They persecuted their son over what they thought and were relentless in demanding something terrible of him. It has nothing to do with theft or adultery. Just a “grave sin” but not in a legal sense.

        About 10 years later, he “woke up” to what he and his parents had done. When he ‘woke up,’ he was devastated beyond words when he had enough time to grow up and see greater contexts of what had happened and how some acts in life will NEVER be taken back. The children’s film “Monster’s INC” by Pixar was the thing that triggered his awakening. And when it was triggered, he started emailing me day and night. His tears could not stop coming. He sent me long emails and was mentally tortured over the past even though I had forgiven him and his parents years before. But, he could not forgive himself. His pain was so acute his would not date anyone for several years. Instead he sent me long emails about what he would have done if he could have gone back in time. He became obsessed with why he didn’t stand up at the time and he became obsessed with the event and the fall-out of the event. (One big piece of the fall-out was at 20 years old, I died and was resuscitated by the hospital. I don’t remember that near death experience, I only remember a recent one). No, no one physically harmed me and I did not commit suicide, Nothing like that. But, the decisions his parents made, ended up with me dying (being resuscitated) and in a hospital.

        He went dark for several years (as in he stopped contacting me because I asked him to). Oh and do you think his parents EVER thought remorse over the grave sin they committed? NO, they did not. I still can’t believe it to this day. (Why do I reference sin? Because his parents are elders at their church and talked about their Godliness all the time. If people are “super Christians” and commit “sins” according to Christianity, I call them out. I cannot stand hypocrisy.)

        Then he contacted me again after I was married and he even asked if I would leave my husband for him. He was ready to get on a plane and fly to my city to convince me. This was all out of the blue and he left it on a voicemail.

        I called him on the phone and told him “NO” and that I had two children. Once he learned I had children, he said that this knowledge set him free of thinking about me. I wished him all the best and told him I hoped he would find a wonderful wife and have children as well. Anyways, I think he ended up having a child with someone out of wedlock, but not getting married. He and the woman he had a child with are almost 50 years old. It’s amazing how much trouble a cruel mother can cause throughout a man’s life.

        Likewise, a cruel father can do terrible harm to girls and boys. I wish all parents were more intentional about how they treated their children and looked at the bigger picture. Children need unconditional love, children need to be emotionally cared for by their parents, and children need to be told “no” to things that will not benefit them.

        Anyhow, there is always fall-out of some sort when someone has cruel parents. It might not be an affair in a marriage. But, there will always be fall-out of some sort. Some people turn to drugs, some people to alcohol, some people have rage issues, some people go from relationship to relationship at lightening speed and never get married, some people become workaholics and super ambitious, some people never find their place in life and feel always the outsider. It’s all very sad.

        I hope this website is a beacon of light DESPITE the terrible topics we discuss. Life can give us terrible blows and be very difficult, but there is always a solution and we can always overcome.

        Kay, I know your husband stood up to the OW, but do you think he will stand up to his mom? I sure hope you two are able to work it out. What else does your marriage counselor say?

        How are your children?


    • Rose

      Hopeless, after my H’s affairs, I was obsessed with email and my calendar. Was he with her on this birthday or anniversary? Was he with her when we had to put our dog down? Was he with her when there were other important events in THIS family’s life? I also cross-checked bank and phone statements to see if he was treating her to coffee when we were broke or when I worked 2 jobs and went to school. It permeated every single part of our life. He didn’t get to keep a rescue dog he wanted because he was too busy privately messaging his love interest on Facebook while I struggled with this large aggressive dog. I am still obsessed with what he does because I haven’t been the priority for a very long time.

      • Sarah P.


        The thing with the large, aggressive dog makes me angry. It’s almost a symbol of his mis-placed rage for you even though he had NO RIGHT to be filled with rage towards you. Quite the opposite!! Any rage should be directed towards him.

        Have you ever looked your husband in the face and said in a very calm voice, “You are a very pathetic person. You are such an empty shell of a human being that you break your vows of our marriage, breaks your promises, and you are so insecure that attention from a cousin means more to you than creating a meaningful relationship.”

        Also, I knew this lady from Texas when I was in college. She had doberman pinchers and she had trained them each time a man entered the house for the dogs to run and gently put their mouths on the guy’s tender bits. She had to call them off, or the dogs would stay in that position. Why did she do that? She lived alone and was afraid of intruders. It was easier for her to train her dogs to do that to all men and she would call off the dogs when it was a friend. Since your husband let that vicious dog treat you badly, I think it might be time to get a male dog and train it to go after your husband’s tender bits when he spends too much time on Facebook. Just a thought.


    • Elizabeth

      Hi Sarah
      Thank you so much for your comments and I really appreciate your compassion for my situation. Unfortunately we have a daughter who is 7 years old. I have known about my husband now for 2 years and like I said this woman from church is not the first affair he’s had. She is a rebound because the first ow from work dumped him because he wouldn’t break up with me (surmise but I’m pretty sure that’s the way it was, he was smitten with her but under a lot of stress from her the whole 18 months they were an item) so he’s not as wrapped in ow2 as ow1. When I confronted him about ow1 he was furious and gaslighted me. He has rages in front of my daughter as he hopes to bully me into silence. I have now worked out he has been compulsively unfaithful since we met. In our first year of marriage (and I was a virgin when we married) he gave me an std but the doctor told me I could have got it from a public toilet (he was covering for my Cs) and I believed him. A few years later I found condoms in his wallet which he said was because when I was traveling for work he felt frustrated and went out to pick up a one night stand but couldn’t go through with it when it came to it. He never said sorry at the time and got angry if I even mentioned that incident although it destroyed my trust in him as I had never thought he would ever even think of cheating. Our sex life was never normal but I didn’t have much to compare it with being innocent and thought maybe it was my fault. I alwAys had to initiate it or it would never happen. I now think he has seen prostitutes as well because when I went through old bank statements there was a lot of cash being withdrawn every month and he can’t explain why and is usually very tight on spending and gives me grief for buying clothes. Again I always felt guilty for spending money even if it was my money (I do have a job as well) and blamed myself. aa a teenager his parents put him in a reform school because he got anxious about a math exam and refused to go to school. He was there four months and I think ruined his life as it disrupted his attachement to his mother at a pivotal time (he was 14 and late going through puberty) he never got therapy or talked to his parents about his time there and was assaukted by another boy (there were some seriously messed up kids in that place) . I got him into therapy last year for this and he went to a few sessions but then it got too hard and he started to blame me for accusing him of the affair. We went to couples therapy for a while but he gaslighted me so that the therapist thought I was a crazy wife. In the end she saw that he was lying but then he didn’t want to go back to therapy. I ha e sought legal advice and they have said he would get 50% custody and more than 60% of our assets. I fear for what he would do if I left him physically and to take away my assets etc. I don’t want to leave my daughter in his care as you can imagine as he is not a good father. Outwardly he appears the most genuine and sweet person and joined the church when we were dating. No one could believe he is doing what he’s doing as he seems a bit socially awkward and as far from being a player as you could imagine. I think he genuinely does love me in a weird way (I am a mommy substitute or a better mom than he had as I have never left him) but cannnot face the truth about himself and/or the shame and guilt. I consulted a Sex addiction specialist who from what I said told me he is a typical Addict and like all addictions it gets worse over time. I have seen therapists and healers who have helped me cope and my family are so supportive but it is very hard. I have learnt a lot about myself and about psychology (have read so many books on this subject including Gabor mate and Byron Katie) and love your posts as they really help give me perspective. Sometimes this just feels like normal life although I know it’s not normal and I wish I could be in any other couple – even a cs who would admit one affair and be sorry for it.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Elizabeth,

        I am grateful my humor did not offend you. I have to be very mindful of my humor since no one can see my body language, my face, or hear my voice. Then it’s clear that I am just being silly/absurd/sarcastic in order to get someone to smile and I am NOT attempting to be offensive.


        Because being betrayed is the most freaking, devastating, awful, horrendous, horrible, mind-bending, depression-inducing experience on the planet.

        People who are being betrayed are crying all the time. Sometimes I attempt to come up with something satirical to hopefully provide a laugh. I want whoever is reading to get a break from the tears for goodness sakes because crying all day is just awful. Have you seen what it does to your mascara? And there is no truly waterproof-mascara on the planet. Totally false advertising, I tell you! I just want to save your mascara and save you from that red nose thing people get from crying. And there is no waterproof foundation for that either. Also totally false advertising! I want you to laugh, if only to save you money on your make-up bills, you know?

        Okay, back to all seriousness….and I do NOT mean to offend you. I have just been doing this for so long that I know what patterns match with what trauma. Before you told me about the prostitute habit and the not having a physical relationship with you, the question I was asking myself was, “So when in her husband’s life was he sexually abused by a man older than him or his own age?” AND “When in her husband’s life did her husband have some fuzzy boundaries around his relationship with “mommy?”

        You may not have discovered it yet or the full extend of it. But, I can promise you it exists. I do not believe your husband is a sexual addict.

        And I am going to get VERY SERIOUS here. Trigger warnings ahead for anyone who has experienced sexual abuse. Please skip this comment if anyone has been sexually abused and has issues with triggers.

        Here is what I believe: I believe your husband experienced sexual trauma at the hands of a man or boy that was not consensual. It was done before the age of 20 because people really are still forming their sexuality before this age. Any kind of experience with someone older is a type of sexual child abuse. Non-consensual sexual acts with someone their own age is a type of rape.

        On the other hand, let’s differentiate this from the experimentation peers do. Everyone hits puberty at a different age and becomes boy or girl crazy at a different age. Many play spin the bottle or “7 minutes in heaven’ in the closet. One of my best friends had a steady boyfriend at 14 and they had a consensual sexual relationship for a long time. (No, she does not care if I mention this because she aspires to be a sex educator one day.) Then there was me. I was not boy crazy until much later. I was so confused by why my 13-year-old friends were screaming about John Taylor and George Michael. I loved their music did not get it. I did not become boy crazy until I was about 18 years old. For this, I am extremely grateful. Because when who I was to be as an adult emerged around 20, I am so thankful it emerged at a time where I could handle it emotionally and was also in a long term and monogamous relationship with a guy about two years older than me who was perfectly matched to me in this area. He was as crazy about me as I was crazy about him and I call that an ideal situation.

        Moving on.

        If a boy sexually experiments with or was raped by a boy his own age or by a man, it causes shame, rage, and confusion about sexuality. If boys of the same age experiment with each other, that can also cause shame and confusion even if they are just a couple of teenage boys dealing with out-of-control and overwhelming hormones. But back to non-consensual situations….He starts to question his own sexuality as well as his own masculinity. The societal narrative is that boys and men are able to protect themselves if they really wanted to protect themselves from being raped. This is absolutely UNTRUE. The message in our society is if a boy/man has any kind of experimentation or if he was raped by another man, then he “wanted it” or he is “secretly bi” or there is something “secretly terrible about him” that would “cause another to rape” him.
        All of it is UNTRUE.

        However, there are few to no outlets where a man can go and get real counseling about such experiences. Many men who were raped as children will sexually act out with as many women as possible to “prove to themselves” that they are masculine and heterosexual. They do this to attempt to out-run the shame of earlier life experience. It never works. It just destroys them and everything valuable in their lives. These experiences cause such damage that they cannot have a normal sexual relationship with their wife. Having a sexual experience with a wife requires vulnerability and it allows someone to get to know the most intimate nature of another. Someone who was abused doesn’t want to be vulnerable so they do anonymous sex OR sex that will never lead to long-term commitment in order to attempt to out-run the shame that they are defective while also NOT having vulnerability attached to their sexuality.

        Then, we must not forget our old pal “dissociation.” When someone is being abused they will dissociate and compartmentalize. It’s what the brain does to protect them when they are in situations where they MUST stay and have no easy way of getting out. (Like when children are sexually abused by parents). They have to split the “good daddy” who plays board games with them, helps them with their homework, and takes them to the movies from the “bad daddy” who sneaks into their room after mom is asleep and does any number of traumatizing things. There was one case study (in a book) where after the daughter in the family went through puberty and after her mom was asleep, her dad would come into her bedroom and masturbate in front of his daughter. It was so disturbing she never dated or had anything to do with men. She became a life-long lesbian, even though her dad never touched her. Most of the time she pretended to be asleep and hoped and prayed he would never touch her. There was an even worse case study I had read. In this case study, there was another girl would be asked to come on errands with her dad when she was around the age of 13. There were many siblings in the house and no one noticed when she was gone. Her dad would never talk about what was happening. He would drive to the woods, they would walk to a tree, and her dad would pull down his pants and point and say the word “hand” or “mouth.” She remembers feeling as if the only merciful thing was he would allow her to “spit” and drink coda afterwards. But, there was NO discussion. Then they went to get errands done and went home. The father was such a tyrant to everyone, that no one dared speak up. She learned that life “went better for her” if she split (in her mind) the dad who didn’t abuse her with the dad who did abuse her. Any kind of trauma whatsoever naturally causes the mind to dissociate and compartmentalize. Someone who has been abused earlier in their life can have affairs and dissociate and compartmentalize naturally, without even thinking about it. Their mind is so damaged it is (very sadly) their normal. I understand why sex addiction specialists would see your husband as a sex addict. However, there really is a fine line between a true addiction AND acting out. Obviously, I am not your therapist and don’t know the whole situation. However, I will say the therapy community has had a long-standing debate about whether or not sex addiction exists. Is it a mental illness versus something else? These days many therapists are hesitating to make the diagnosis. According to the DSM, a therapist must always look for a better explanation for a condition before labeling it.

        Since your husband was assaulted by a boy and put in a horribly traumatic school and also had a mom who does not sound great, the better explanation here would be PTSD with secondary features that include sexual acting out.

        ****This does NOT count as a diagnosis and I am not qualified to diagnose someone I do not see within the formal relationship of therapy.****

        It is something that I believe is worthy of exploration with a therapist. If someone has experienced trauma, then diagnosing them as a sex addict really needs to be rethought. Even if he is diagnosed as a sex addict, I do believe he needs to be evaluated for PTSD due to the experience with school. It does not cause as much as some would think to cause PTSD.

        Now let’s talk about divorce. I hear your concerns about divorce. To be quite honest, I would not feel good about having your husband alone with your daughter 50% of the time without your supervision. If you were to divorce, that would be the case. He is deeply emotionally troubled and there is no telling if he would go off the deep end. If you were to think of divorce, it would be good to move to a state where you can sue for alienation of affection and also ensure that such a state would give you 100% custody of your daughter. If you were to divorce your husband, I would want you to have a clean break where you and your daughter would have no contact with him at all and could go on with your lives.

        Now let’s talk about you. How can you be supported in a way that helps you live in a marriage that is so troubling? Do you have a regular individual counselor that you can see? Do you have trusted friends at church who can guide you and also not gossip? What about your daughter? Does your daughter know that something is up?

        Does your husband ever have fits of yelling and rage at you and your daughter? Does he ever target your self-esteem and try to tear you down? Don’t be afraid of sharing that because I do not judge. Unfortunately, I know a lot about domestic violence, trauma bonds, early childhood abuse, and all kinds of other icky things. Our current model that we have in terms of dealing with abused wives is broken. It is generally based on shaming a woman into leaving her spouse. Well, shaming a person into doing something makes them even more stressed out and actually parallels the abuse that they suffer at home. The only way to help women get free of such relationships is to get them strong emotionally, ensure they have an excellent career to pay the bills, a good support system, and a way to guarantee they will truly be free of an abusive spouse. If a woman leaves an abusive spouse and there is 50/50 custody, now children can be abused and she will have no way of knowing.

        Recently I was asked an opinion on such a situation. The couple never married. but the father saw the child on weekends. This is not a confidential situation and was not asked within a professional setting and was not asked in private. It is a publicly known situation. I am sharing it because it brought home the idea of how difficult it is to know how your child is being treated when with an abusive ex. This story had a twist and was different than most. The parents of the child were never married and the mom has almost all custody of the child. The mom has needed help picking up her child from preschool on certain days. When the mother of the child’s father offered to pick up the child, the mother of the child was grateful. (This is the child’s other grandma — the dad’s mom). Pretty soon the child started getting headaches and stomach pain. Finally the child said out loud what was happening to the child. Then the child said it was a lie. After the mom spoke with the child and told the child that the child was safe, the whole story came out. The other grandma had mental problems. After picking up the child from preschool, the grandma would punch the child in the stomach and hit the child on the head. The state was called and the child will never see that grandma again. Thank goodness. But, in such situations where there is split custody, a parent can never really know what their child goes through.

        Now that we have gotten all that serious stuff out of the way, let’s get back to humor. Your church was seriously hit by lightening? I thought God stopped throwing the lightening bolts about a 1,000 years ago. Lightening bolts are very old school, but hey, I am all for them! Yes, that was certainly a message God was sending to the two sinners sitting in his house. God does not suffer fools. Also, let’s remember what Jesus did in such situations. Remember when the money changers were in the temple, well, Jesus did NOT like that and he started throwing tables around because the temple had been turned into a ‘den of thieves.’ God and Jesus do not tolerate thieves or adulterers under their roof UNLESS those people have stopped sinning, repented, and have changed their ways forever. Then God accepts them as he does any prodigal son. But, people who are actively sinning while going to church? God does not appreciate that and I love that he sent an old-fashioned lightening bolt. In these times, we need a little bit of drama from God so that people remember he still exists. In the olden days, God had a flare for sending floods and nuking entire cities like Sodom and Gomorrah. I am glad to see God is back to sending lightening bolts. I would also remind your husband that next time it might hit his head. God hasn’t been practicing for a while and his “pitching arm” needs a little work. Since God and Babe Ruth are good friends, I am absolutely sure your H will get hit the next time, so he had better watch it.

        Also, I don’t know how brave you are, but in the past I personally have confronted another woman. She was sitting in my boyfriend’s dorm room waiting for him and she did not know he had just confessed to me that she was having an affair with him. Also, about men who don’t look like players? That was him.This guy (first boyfriend) was cheating with five different girls- she was the most aggressive one. This guy went to church every Sunday and spent Sunday afternoons writing his grandmother. He did not drink, smoke, swear, he clipped coupons, and kept his car immaculately clean. When people found out he was cheating they were like, “He acts like such a dork! He is the last person we would have thought!” And yet, he was Pepe Le Pew when no one was looking. At the time, he had just confessed it to me in a public place and I started talking really loudly so we went to his dorm room. Well well…she was waiting there for him. I simply looked at her and in a very calm and matter-of-fact voice, I told her that according to Freud, she had a terrible oral fixation and that I had just found out she was exercising that oral fixation on my boyfriend. She shrieked and literally ran out of his room. He said, “Now why did you do that? Why weren’t you nice?” And I said, “Now why did YOU have to cheat? Anyhow, we are done, so have all the girls you want.” And I broke up and left. He pursued me and I eventually threatened him with a restraining order. He wanted to cheat with 5 different women but there was no way in heck I was allowed to break up with him (in his mind). He sent me a letter saying he was going to force me to bend to his will and he said a few other things that implied he was going to rape me. I sent it to an attorney and the attorney sent him a very stern letter that got rid if him. This “Christian man” who went to church on Sundays, sang in the choir, and wrote grandma on Sunday afternoon felt he was in the right when he cheated on me with five different women and he would NOT stop doing it. He was outraged that I stood up for myself. And so he got a little scary. I still look back at that and cannot believe the audacity he had to believe he was entitled to have sexual relationships with whomever he wanted and I was supposed to be okay with that because he told me he was “a good Christian man” and wrote grandma every Sunday. And because he was a “good Christian man,” God forgave him and God knew he was a man and had desires of a man and I was supposed to sit down, shut up, and pretend he was a good Christian man. That did NOT fly with me and yes I was raised in the Christian church. I know both Christianity and Judaism in great depth, but I do not attend any kind of organized religion of any sort.

        But, back to your other woman. The next time you guys are in church and there is a group of people around, I have something that you can say to the other woman in front of a group.

        You can tell her, “Can you do me a favor? You know the Golden Rule about doing unto others? In the future, I would really appreciate it if you would bring a towel and put it on my bed the next time you have sex with my husband and you are on your period. Getting your menstrual blood out of the antique quilt on my marital bed was a real issue. Spray and wash couldn’t clean it because your adulterous blood left such a bad stain. So, next time, please bring your own towel, okay? I know you like having sex with my husband, but the least you can do is keep my sheets clean, Thaaaaaaannnkkks.” Oh and don’t forget to smile!!

        So, according to your husband would that count as being nice or mean to the other woman? At least you smiled.


    • Elizabeth

      Ps that’s funny that you mention the lightening bolts as last night at church there was a terrible electrical storm and the lightening hit the church, activating the alarm system which took a while to be turned off! Going into church I had imagined myself and my daughter being protected by a shield of the Holy Spirit so maybe it was divine comment on the two mortal sinners!!
      Ps loved the Pomeranian comments too!!! If we don’t find humour even in these situations life would be too bleak indeed!

    • barbara

      Excellent article, Sarah. I’m especially interested in triggers and anniversaries that have been written about.

      My H’s affair was decades ago, going on 4. I never told anyone out of shame. I don’t have any siblings and both my parents were deceased. Also, we moved away from our lifelong home town to another state only a few years before his year long affair started. It was a woman who worked at his office where he was a traveling salesman.

      My biggest trigger is, and always has been, that his AP’s name is the same as mine. To this day I get triggered by it. Example: I went to a book signing where the author asked my name. I hesitated. She looked at me as if I was an idiot! I stammered a nickname, merely to get out of the situation that only I knew I was in.

      My birthday is 2 days before our anniversary. His AP’s birthday is 1 week later. He ignored my birthday that year. Our children made a fuss, as young children do, so it was overlooked. He took her out to dinner with sex after on our anniversary that year. I was home alone. He took her out to dinner with sex after on her birthday. That is a very sensitive time for me, even now. So many years later but it is always on my mind. He tries to make up for it but it still hurts.

      In my experience, triggers remain forever. I have tried to anticipate them, work through them, live with them but they remain. Perhaps to a lesser degree but, for me, they remain.

      As a curious aside, his AP has since married and her husband’s name is the same as my husbands name. So, even when people refer to us by name, I sometimes think of them.

      • Sarah P.


        I would be triggered too if my H had an affair with someone by my name and then she married someone with my husband’s name. I would be especially triggered if our birthdays were close together and overlapped with anniversaries. As for him ignoring the anniversary and taking her out to dinner and sex, he is really lucky that he still has his ‘equipment’ in tact. As me and my best friend say, men are supposed to use it to love their wives. When they use it with other women, it becomes a weapon of mass destruction from an emotional (and sometimes physical) perspective. For example, when my ex gave me cervical cancer due to having sex with someone else for several months before we were supposed to get married, I could have died. Thank goodness the relationship broke up and thank goodness I was prompted to get an STD test and thank God the cervical cancer was caught in time. I literally could have been dead just because my ex thought sampling the body of someone else was more important than promises, vows, morality, and of course my health. I did not get regular exams because I believed I was in a monogamous relationship.

        I have three suggestions for you.

        1) Change your name

        2) Change his name

        3) Have a renewal of vows ceremony during a time that is very far away from your anniversary or birthday. Also, do it in somewhere like Hawaii. Have a beautiful wedding on the beach and you will say vows with your new names on a new date.

        That does not wipe the affair away, but it is an interesting way to put the past behind you, define yourselves as a new couple, and take your power back.

        I am so sorry that you have to go through this. It’s one of those things that cannot be taken back and that is why I like vow renewal ceremonies. It’s a way to re-claim your marriage on your terms. It doesn’t make up for the hurt, but it can redefine your relationship.


    • Kay

      Sarah, I don’t think my H will ever stand up to his mother. Like you said not only cuz of what his mom would say or think but the rest of the family. He is one of 4 and now with in-laws, children etc it’s a family of 23. Very close and all hailing Mom as the Queen who could do no wrong. Dad died 12 years ago. And my H has since learned to see the truth abt his dad. They were raised to believe he was no good cuz he didn’t do everything the way mom wanted. He was into politics, community and loved social gatherings. Mom is a home body almost a recluse wound cook, clean, etc. She would rage out all the time against dad, break things etc and would tell the kids how bad their dad was. My H has come to see how much his dad did for him, take him out, talk with him, etc all the things his mom never did and learned to see that he may not have be the best H for his mom he was a great dad who never got the recognition he deserved.

      2 years ago right before the affair we had a cancer scare with our then 11 yr old daughter. Two of his brothers never checked in on us or her and that really pissed me off. My H planned to say something to them and talked with the sis first who told mom who called my H crying not to do that. We went to her house to discuss it further and my H had all these things he was going to say abt his anger towards his brother. What happened next was unbelievable to me. She started rocking and crying that she was afraid this would split up the family and that she couldn’t take having her boys fight so she would just move to Puerto Rico to spare everyone. My H dropped to his knees and was crying and begging her to forgive him and he promised not to say anything to them. I was in complete shock and didn’t know what to do with myself. I had never witnessed my H like that and we were together 20 years!

      The good thing about that “episode” I don’t even know what to call it, was it really helped me understand the hold the AP had on my H just a few short months later. One of our therapists suggested he read No More Mr Nice Guy which we both did and boy did it describe my H and how much of his needing to please came from his inability to please his unpleasable mom!

      Our kids are doing well. I had my H move out 2 weeks after Dday and he did an amazing job explaining to them how we needed time apart. Only our then 27 year knows that there was an affair. She knows no details as she didn’t need to. She was starting her own relationship and announced her pregnancy 9 days after Dday. (When I say I was in a whirlwind I’m underestimating it!) so I think took a lot away from watching us go through counseling, my forgiving and our rebuilding. (He moved back in 3 months later) I think our then 12 year old knows a lot more than we’d like to from hearing us fight or seeing searches in my phone/computer. But we haven’t been sure how to ask her. We’ve tried open ended and she always says she’s fine which she seems to be so the therapist suggests not pushing. Our then 7 year old son has seen the most cuz he was home during more arguments & was the only one whoever slept over dads apartment but I don’t think he really got what was happening as one day we drove by the apartment and he said that’s where dad lived when he had jury duty. (Jury duty did happen around that time so it’s interesting how he connected the two). I did correct as I feel it’s important for kids to know the truth on their developmental level.

      Our therapist sees our growth but sees as I do how difficult it is for him to truly see his mom for who she is and truly even just in the safety of therapy tell his mom what she did wrong. He still owns too much of it. I’m learning it’s not my job to get him to see the truth but to have my boundaries while being there for him while he works through all of this!

      Thank you again Sarah for your stories and questions helps me focus my thoughts as it’s so easy to stay angry and triggered.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Kay,

        That is quite a story about your H’s mom rocking on the floor and causing a fuss. You basically got all you need to know about your H and his pathologies that cause him to act out due to the incident with his mom. As for the mom, it’s called covert narcissism. She controls him through extreme guilt. (Gee, I know that one… that is my mother-in-law.) Her b-day is soon and my son found something on the internet where you can buy balloons for abusive people. They were hysterical, but I cannot repeat the messages written on them. I think your MIL needs a balloon bouquet like that.

        I am glad that your children seem to be doing well. That’s actually a huge deal. I have also found that it is therapeutic to write really nasty poetry every time you get triggered. When I say “nasty poetry” I am taking about poetry where you let all of your rage out and it is uncensored. It’s a very therapeutic experience. You might want to try it the next time you get triggered.


    • Kay

      Barbara, those are some eerie coincidences with the names and dates. I’m sorry your own name has to be a trigger. Triggers are the worse and they anger me sometimes as it’s not fair that we have to carry that added burden of preparing ourselves or having techniques to get us through.
      I have come to expect infidelity in movies and shows. It takes the sting off as there seems to always be something. Now it’s like finding a prize when there isn’t any!

      Did I read correctly that the affair was 40 years ago? Did he ever have another one? How have things between you been since? I’m imagining if it was 40 years ago that you didn’t do counseling as back then society didn’t respect woman and their pain as well as they do now. How did you get through?

      • Barbara

        Yes, you read correctly. His affair was 1980-1981. As far as I know, he did not have another one. I became quite a detective after that!

        No, counseling was not the norm. No home computers, cell phones-it was truly the olden days. We did go to a marriage counselor which did little good. He was still in his affair fog and wasn’t truthful. He told me she worked in a store he called on and it only lasted 4-6 weeks. My detective work proved him wrong! I was the one who ended it as he failed to call me when he reached his hotel in another state to let me know he arrived safely. I called early the next morning and heard her voice in his room. He couldn’t lie it away, as the maids don’t wake people up to clean their rooms at 7am!

        Things have been ok between us. It would be lots better if I had someone to talk to at the time. I bought into the “I must have done something wrong” bs. 10 years later we went to another counselor and his advice to me was lose weight!

        We were planning to renew our vows in Hawaii, as suggested, for our 55th anniversary but just before departure I discovered that I had breast cancer. I’ve been fighting that since. I must say it was hard on my H. He was with me every step of the way. I’m doing much better now and, Thank God, I am cancer free. He proved his love and devotion by caring for me above and beyond what most men would do.

        I got through by reading, going to college while working full time studying Psychology. Mostly for the sake of figuring the whole affair thing out!


        • Hopeful

          Barbara, Amazing! I am so sorry you had to go through this so many years ago before quality resources and support were available. And so happy to hear you are cancer free. Many things to be thankful for. My husband and I both wish he never made all of his horrible decisions but it was a wake up call for him. And we are both thankful he came clean and we have become closer. So impressed by your resiliency and perseverance through it all!

        • Sarah P.

          Congrats on beating cancer and getting a psychology degree. I believe every betrayed spouse should have one. (Just my opinion– I freely admit that it is what I needed to make sense of what had happened.)

          I am glad your husband proved himself to be a man of valor by being supportive through your medical journey.


    • Elizabeth

      Thanks so much Sarah for all your advice and information. I had not thought about my H being raped as a teenager but I think it fits with his acting out behaviour. I have also observed very weird behaviour from his mom when we visited – she came out of the shower wearing only a towel and asked him to come and help her with the taps!! He was also watching her getting undressed on the beach (she was trying to cover up and change into her bathing suit – it was a remote beach with no changing or bathroom facilities) to the point that I told him it was inappropriate. I hadn’t noticed that degree of inappropriateness between them before but maybe I wasn’t looking for it before I knew about his affairs.
      Can I ask if with that history if you think H would be likely to abuse our daughter sexually? This is my biggest fear. the therapist I was seeing thought not if he was getting attention from other women etc but I know H has never been very worried about child abuse (eg all the recent stuff coming out about child abuse from the clergy) even though it’s always been a major worry of mine.
      Yes he does have rages in front or within earshot if my daughter (with explicit details of what I am accusing him of – even mentioning prostitutes/using words like etc) but since I have done a lot of relationship healing/cleansing of chakras and meditations these have been a lot less and now limited more to everyday gaslighting and undermining comments about the house etc which I recognise as such and ignore.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Elizabeth,

        Here is something that boggles my mind about many therapists. Please know I am NOT attempting to sound arrogant. It has to do more with how little education many therapists have. I have studied psychology for thirty years straight and got many certificates in various specializations within psychology before I decided to finish a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. (Before that I had a Master’s in English Literature). It’s great to help with this website because I am able to use both Master’s degrees and they fit together seamlessly here.

        Onto your therapist. So few therapists are experts in childhood sexual abuse, pedophilia, other forms of abuse (physical/emotional), and the trauma that such experiences cause. Before I wrote for EAJ, I had done a deep dive into studying pedophilia, childhood sexual abuse, trauma bonds, the nature of sexuality, the correlations between early childhood experiences and later mental illnesses, and attachment patterns and how they affect marriages. I was studying the ugliest areas of psychology because my belief was that I must know all about them — and the truth about these areas (versus assumptions) — to get to the bottom of individual pathologies and how such experiences and pathologies affect marriages. I was also studying diseases such as autism and how to treat them since I had just gotten word my youngest was likely on the autism spectrum. Signs were visible when he was a baby. I had retired from high tech to stay at home with children and had decided to pursue psychology more formally (getting credentials) rather than studying it on my own and doing lay counseling. Surprisingly, I know more about pedophilia and childhood sexual abuse than most in the field who specialize in such things. I wanted to make all that clear before I give an answer.

        You said:

        “Can I ask if with that history if you think H would be likely to abuse our daughter sexually? This is my biggest fear. the therapist I was seeing thought not if he was getting attention from other women etc but I know H has never been very worried about child abuse (eg all the recent stuff coming out about child abuse from the clergy) even though it’s always been a major worry of mine.”

        What your therapist said about your husband in terms of him being a risk is completely wrong and based on assumptions that have been debunked by research. Here is the answer about people who act out against children. I wanted to clear that up and also let you know that what I have to say next is based on research and NOT my opinion.

        Men who act out against children fall into the following categories:

        1) Preferential pedophile: This is a pedophile who can only become aroused by viewing images of children, fantasizing about children, and desires to have children as sexual partners. They cannot become aroused by adults. Here is a VERY important statistic. Preferential pedophiles are only 10% of the population of the pedophile population.

        2) Non-preferential pedophile: A non-preferential pedophile is a pedophile who desires to have sex with children, fantasizes about children, often downloads child porn, and can be aroused by something as simple as a child sitting on his lap. But, here is the issue. This type of pedophile can also become attracted to adults. Many of these pedophiles get married, have families, have sexual intercourse with adults, but also sexually abuse children. These pedophiles are 90% of the pedophile population.

        Let’s think about the impact of that… since pedophilia is so misunderstood by the vast majority of the population, a married man who has sex with women, will never be thought of as a pedophile. People assume pedophiles only like children. But, this is not true. Almost all pedophiles have the ability to have sex with adults. 90% of pedophiles have sexual relationships with adults and are often married. But, since most people assume pedophiles only like children, they would never suspect a man who is able to have sex with adults and affairs on his wife, would also be a pedophile. This is why 90% of pedophiles fall into the non-preferential pedophile category. They do NOT qualify as either heterosexuals OR homosexuals because both heterosexuals and homosexuals are only attracted to and only have sex with adults. Just because an adult man can have sex with an adult woman does not mean he cannot also be a pedophile. Any adult who is aroused by both adults and pre-pubescent children is a non-preferential pedophile. Think of “Jared” from the Subway commercials. He was married and had a family, but he was caught trying to pay parents so he could have sex with children. His ‘preferred age’ appeared to be in the age group just before puberty and also the age group right around kindergarten. Pedophiles often have a preference in terms of age group and the age of the child is more important than the gender, even among men who are married to adult women. More examples of non-preferential pedophiles can be found all over Hollywood. Many of these famous directors and producers are married to women and yet they sexually abuse boys OR girls in their favorite age group. Corey Feldman went public with all this information, but he was not taken seriously and no arrests were made, despite repeated attempts by Corey Feldman. The people he was after were really “big fish” and had all the money they needed to escape justice.

        3) Abusive people, generally men. These men use rape solely as a method to gain power and control over others. Rape is merely a tool of abuse. A man who is using rape as a method of power and control can rape anyone or anything. Even though the act involves genital areas, the intention is to abuse, humiliate, overpower, and to control a victim. A common example of this is in male prisons. The male prisoners may not be homosexuals, but they will physically rape another man to exert power and control. These same abusers can also rape children to assert power and control over a child. Additionally, they can also rape the elderly to assert power and control. Sometimes we will hear in the news stories of adult males (who work as caregivers in nursing homes) raping 90-year-old women who are patients in the home. People will shake their head and say, “How can a young, attractive man have sex with a 90-year-old woman? Gross!” Well, it’s not about sex. It is NOT about sexual attraction. It’s not about old women (allegedly) being gross and therefore not worthy of being seen as attractive. Allegedly ‘old women’ are NOT gross and I get angry anytime “ageism” slips into commentary about the victim of a crime. The implication is that since the woman is old, that means she is not sexually desirable, and therefore it’s gross for someone to rape her. These news stories actually become more about how “crazy” a man is to “have sex” with a “gross old woman” when this could NOT be further from the truth. Women of all ages are beautiful. But, it was NOT about that in the first place. The raping of an elderly nursing home patient is about asserting power, hate, and control over someone who is in a position of weakness: an elderly person who is ill and frail and cannot take care of herself, hence the reason she is in the nursing home. These acts are about destroying the humanity of the person they are raping by seeing them as mere objects to abuse and to torture. So, even though genitals are involved, it is not about sex or sexual attraction. The very same man who rapes a 90-year-old woman could go home and rape a 5-year-old boy if he had the opportunity. It is all about using genitals as a weapon to intentionally control, abuse, harm, and take away the dignity of another human being.

        A note on homosexuality: A homosexual is an adult who has a sexual preference solely for adults of the same gender and who wants to pursue mutually consenting and loving, sexual relationships with an adult of the same gender. Homosexuality is NOT a mental disorder. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation where someone is sexually attracted to an adult of the same gender and wishes to have a relationship that has all the benefits of heterosexual relationships: partnership, caring, love, passion, connectedness, sex, monogamy, and perhaps marriage. There is no difference between the love two consenting heterosexual adults have for one another and the love two consenting homosexual adults have for each other. We all need the same things, whether one falls in love with someone of the same gender or someone falls in love with someone of the opposite gender. The loves are equal and valid. For the Christians and Jews out there, I know what the Bible and the Torah say because I have always been someone who is deeply connected to God in my own way and who has spent thousands of hours within religious organizations throughout my life. (These days, I am not a member of any religious organization and cultivate my relationship with God and the spiritual world all by myself and through meditation and prayer). God considers adultery a sin because adultery breaks a commandment. However, there is no commandment against homosexuality. In Judaism, only male homosexuality is forbidden and lesbianism is not forbidden. But in Judaism, these things are examined from entirely different viewpoints than they are in Christianity. My opinion is that God has great disdain for heterosexual adulterers and homosexual adulterers who are married. But, I believe God has more disdain for married adulterers than he ever wold for two people of the same gender who fall in love and are monogamous. Heterosexual adulterers have broken both a commandment and a covenant with God since marriage mirrors the church body (among Christians). Regardless, homosexuals are NOT pedophiles because a pedophile is someone who has an attraction to pre-pubescent children and most pedophiles prefer an AGE versus a gender. So, I had to get that out of the way: homosexuals (under the definition given in psychology) are not pedophiles.

        Now let’s get to your question… you asked if your husband could be at risk of abusing your daughter and that it was your biggest fear. The therapist you spoke with implied he probably was not able to do this because of the attention he is getting from other woman.

        Well, judging from that person’s response, she is implying that your husband is a non-preferential pedophile. She is implying he probably wouldn’t abuse your daughter because he gets attention elsewhere. Her answer also implies that your husband could do such a thing if all that attention went away.

        Now, let’s look at the truth of your matter. If a man is someone who either uses sex as a method of abuse OR if he is someone who is a non-preferential pedophile, it would not matter if there were 100 women at his door all day long; there would come a point in time where he would sexually abuse your daughter. Given time and given he had time alone with her, he would sexually abuse her.

        So, your therapists answer is scary. She is implying he is a pedophile but as long as he is distracted then he won’t hurt your daughter. Well, if your husband is a pedophile, he should not be anywhere near your daughter and NEVER alone with her. Why isn’t the therapist hearing your concern and saying things like you need to ensure that your daughter is NEVER EVER alone with him and that you need to start documenting everything.

        Here is another thing. Almost ALL children who are being sexually abused will never tell anyone, even if they are asked, even if there is proof of the abuse. I have the permission of someone I know very well to talk about some things from her childhood. She will stay anonymous, but she thinks it is so important for people to understand childhood sexual abuse that she does not mind me telling the essential parts of her story if it is necessary to save a child. Her father did have affairs on her mom. He was also constantly full of rage. He used yelling as a way to control his family. Her mom left her dad only after she stood up to her dad when she was 18 and told her mom a little bit of the abuse– just enough to insist they flee. She was the oldest. But, here is what was sad. Her mom assumed that her husband would only abuse the daughters so the mom left with the daughters and left all the little boys in the care of this monster/dad. My friend, the oldest, said when she was abused there were people who had asked her– teachers and other trustworthy people. She said at the time she would have taken the secret to the grave rather than told. Her shame was too great. Here was the other thing– her dad did it so quickly and in such an organized way that it could fly under the radar. The shame so filled my friend she said she would lie about being abused even if there had pictures of her being abused to show proof. The pain of the abuse, the shame, and the compartmentalization she used ensured that she never told even when asked repeatedly by teachers and others. However, sometime as an adult, she did confess FULLY to her mom and siblings what happened. Here is the worst part. When her dad would take her on ‘errands’ to the store or the post office, he would always take her to a place where no one else was around. He didn’t even use words. He pointed at what she needed to do, she did it, and then they went and finished the errand at the store. It was never even spoken of between the two of them. At one point she attempted to rebel when they were alone. He told her two things and this is the worst part: he said that if she ever told, there would be a bullet in everyone’s brains (and he always carried his gun). The other thing he said is that if she cooperated and allowed him to do it to her, he promised NOT to touch the other children.

        Well, since she was the oldest, she dearly wanted to protect all the siblings younger than herself. So she finally stopped fighting her dad and did it, remembering she was protecting the little ones and keeping that fact in her mind– at least the little ones would be spared. However, the day came when she told her dad off and she told her mom a little about the abuse and she and her mom fled with only the daughters. Only as an adult did my friend learn that her dad was abusing ALL the siblings (male or female) and telling them all the same story: if they ‘took it,” he wouldn’t touch the others. All of them wanted to protect the others, so they took it– even the ones as young as 4-years-old. This man is long gone and died a horribly painful death. My hope is that he is in a place where he daily gets to be the recipient of the abuse he gave to others. There was never a time when he repented of his actions, apologized, or even felt the slightest twinge of guilt before he died. I hope he is living the karma he created and I hope that wherever he is, he is having done to him what he did to others. I never met him, but he is an example of one of the most EVIL entities I have ever cone across. I don’t believe he was human– that is why I call him an entity. There was nothing redeeming about him. EVER.

        Back to your husband raging in front of your daughter and using explicit words. He is giving your daughter a sexual education when he says such things. If he were to do such things to her and if she were to ever accuse him, he would say, “What do you mean? I use prostitutes and my daughter found out and she is getting revenge.” He is creating a nice alibi. I have found out that pedophiles and people who sexually abuse children are some of the most skillfully manipulative people on the planet. There is nothing ‘spontaneous’ about what they are doing. What they are doing are acts that are carefully planned, thought over in great detail, and the plans include how to ‘groom’ the adults around them so that if their sexual abuse came out, people will say things like “he is a nice church going man” OR “he has affairs on his wife and the child is lying to get revenge on her dad!” Why do I know these things? I have read hundreds of case studies.

        Elizabeth, this is quite a lot of information to take in. What does your gut tell you about what I have said?

        As for chakra cleansing and meditation, yes this is all helpful. But, you need the daily protection of God. And please do not leave your precious daughter alone with your husband for any reason. It only takes 3 minutes for an abuser to do something. Some are so skilled they can do harm in a matter of seconds. If I were you, I would talk to a minster or another religious figure who is NOT a mandated reporter. When CPS gets involved in such things, 80% of the time they make things worse. People who abuse kids will do everything it takes to look innocent. They will attempt to make the wife seem crazy, they will call her mentally ill, they will terrorize the child, etc. You need help of someone who can pray and plan with you before you talk to a mandated reporter. In my state, these cases are handled horrendously. I know a retired psychologist who was the head of a clinic and was often the social worker on sexual abuse cases. She had invited me to some women’s group at her Christian church. I was not interested, but went anyway. One time she told me that her preference was always to keep the children in homes where the parents had sexually abused the child. I told her that in my opinion it was wrong to do because sexual abuser cannot be helped. They simply cannot have children around them. She actually got angry with me and said it was very unChristian to want their children taken away from them. Well, I told her the Christian thing was to take children out of these homes– otherwise we aid and abet abuse. I told her God did not want children abused and Jesus loved children most of all– Jesus would not want harm to come to children. Do you think we are on speaking terms? NO we are not. She was so offended that I thought protecting children was more important than forgiving sexual abusers and allowing them to live with their children. We can forgive people who abuse, but having a child live with a parent who has confessed to sexual abuse is a terrible thing to do– someone who does such a thing is aiding in the destruction of a soul. Unchristian or not, I would never allow a child to have contact with a parent who had sexually abused that child and there was proof.

        A thing about your husband’s mom. She has a sexually inappropriate relationship with him and she (his mom) is encouraging it. I can only imagine what happened behind closed doors when he was younger. Where is your husband’s father?

        Elizabeth, I am here for you, even though you don’t know me. I am a mom, just like you, and a real person. There is no staff here at EAJ. Everything we do is written by Doug, Linda, or myself. We are three people and spend a lot of time into changing the lives of others. And of course, I am the one who answers all my comments and writes all my own material. Everyone is talking to “the Sarah P.” and not a staff member or a publicist.

        Many blessings, Elizabeth,


    • Kay

      Barbara, good for you for accomplishing so much at a time where supports were lacking. I’m happy to hear you’re cancer free and hope you’ve found an alternate time to celebrate in Hawaii.

      Hopeful, what you just wrote about your husband feeling so bad his time doing the unthinkable that he had to survive anyway he knew how sounds just like me husband! I love how you said despite the resources cuz it kills me that my H so foolishly reached out to her to find out her healthy history cuz he was worried about me. There are tests for that that would’ve given a truer answer than she ever could!

      My struggle is I see all of the psychological aspects of his affair but it is still a struggle to not feel like I was replaced or to compare even if he says he isn’t!

      • Hopeful

        Kay, I say resources since my husband is a mental health professional. He said he literally was screaming in his head to himself no before he ever cheated. So based on his education, training and profession he had a million options besides the ones he chose. And his affairs went on for ten years…. it is a lot to take in. And my story about the STD’s etc was he told me the one ow always used protection since she was so responsible… the other one was a nurse so she got tested at work all the time. This nurse story was one he came up with on his own, she did not tell him that. I asked very detailed questions. I had to ask him so you think the hospital is testing her for STD’s. I said is she having sex with her patients? He looked at me and at that point I realized he told himself whatever he had to in order to get through his day to day life.

        And it is so hard this entire thing. I always say I understand intellectually how this all happens. But I cannot understand it in my core and heart. And yes it is hard to not feel those things replaced etc. All I can say is that this has nothing to do with you. These are issues these men have. As I told my husband the only explanation was if he was drugged. Which he was not and drinking on his own does not count. For me what helped was reading a lot of books, keeping a journal, weekly talks with my husband, this site hearing from others, my therapist and Sarah on this site. It is a mix of all different things at different points in this journey. You are not alone and I can relate!

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks Sarah for your comments – they are very confronting and take some digesting. I don’t know what to think really but agree the safest path us to protect my daughter and not leave them alone together. I don’t understand why such evil exists in this world when poor innocent children are the targets of such monsters.

    • Elizabeth

      Ps my husbands dad doesn’t seem to notice re his wife’s inappropriate behaviour with my cs but that is his personality anyway – he doesn’t like conflict and ignores things to avoid rocking the boat. He now has early stages of dementia. When the kids were younger (I have a sister in law as well) he worked Overseas for a while – also he wasn’t encouraged to take an active part in their lives as his wife was more dominant to the point where he felt excluded. I’m not sure if he ever had an affair or anything himself – my cs remembers them having a conversation they thought he couldn’t hear when he was a teen where his mom asked her husband why he wasn’t sleeping with her anymore (this was when she was going through menopause) I do wonder if he was going elsewhere.

    • Sarah P.

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I was afraid the info I had given you in my response was a bit much to take in at once. Especially since there can be situations where a man is both an adulterer and someone who sexually abuses children.

      There is something that continues to be swept under the rug both by the psychology community and in the media. Here it is: we are experiencing an epidemic of pedophilia in the West. (I am sure it’s the same all over the world, but I can only speak to the studies I have read.).

      It is really bad. Worse than anyone can imagine. It’s so bad that I attempt not to think about it most of the time. But, when you asked the question about your H and said what the therapist had said, I felt it was my duty to let you and everyone know this is a problem. I don’t even want to talk about how large it is because most people would be traumatized and not even know what to do with the information.

      But knowing what you know now, just keep your daughter close at all times. If you want to email me privately I can give you some concrete ideas on what you can do and help you look up a therapist in your area who you can speak with— one who is an expert in such things. The answer you had received from the therapist was not satisfactory. it was incorrect on several levels.

      I will never be able to understand pedophilia on any level whatsoever. Maybe it’s because I am female. (There are female offenders, they are a lot less, and they need to be called out as well). No child should suffer. But many do. I cannot begin to understand why someone could hurt a child. Ever. But sexual abuse is the worst. My mentor (who had been a therapist for many years) called sexual abuse “soul murder.” He was clued in, whereas not all are.

      Elizabeth, how is it going this week?

    • Elizabeth

      It has been a tough week struggling with the information you have given me – I also attended the funeral of my brothers father in law and one of my good friends has just lost his wife (she was 91 but it was still a shock for him). On the plus side the cs has been away two nights with work and it was wonderful. My daughter slept in with me and we both felt so light and free without him. I actually got a sound nights sleep which has been missing for a while!

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Elizabeth,

        It has been a tough week if you had to lose people you love or people who those close to you love.

        I think that is a piece of important info you have about your H and your relationship– if you and your daughter felt light and free without him and if you had a good night’s sleep, that tells me a lot. Is there any way to keep him away from the house? Maybe he needs to travel on business?

        Ideally, it would be nice to get divorced so you can know what real love feels like. But, unless you can get 100% and assured custody, it would be a gamble.

        If you believe in prayer, maybe God has a solution? Can you talk to your pastor?

        Big hugs, Elizabeth. I am a mom as well and know how heartbreaking it is when our children could be hurt. Mine don’t have contact with my MIL because of her abuse of both of her sons. My mother-in-law’s preferred method of punishing her youngest child was smothering him (so he could not breathe) until he passed out. I have found all this stuff out in the past 6 months, but there is so much more and I refuse to allow my kids to have contact with an abusive person. And I do NOT allow any abusive behavior in my house.


    • Elizabeth

      Wow your MIL sounds very scary – I don’t blame you for not allowing contact – it’s lucky she didn’t kill one of her kids doing the smothering act! Honestly I can’t understand how you could do that to a child you bore and gave birth to. Unfortunately he doesn’t travel that often for work. And divorce is too much of a gamble – as well as the fact that I wouldn’t trust anyone after this experience – let alone with my daughter. It was hard enough dating in my 30s and I’m now late 40s so no illusions there as to how hard that would be especially as most men think having a child means you are (a) desperate and (b) the kid is a liability. I pray constantly about my situation and can only hope that there will be an answer. I probably do need to talk to my priest but as they don’t marry in our church they don’t have a lot of personal experience in this regard.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Elizabeth,

        You and me both. I cannot imagine treating anyone that way and especially not the child I bore.

        As for your priest, he is probably the wrong person to speak with. I would recommend a minister of a non-denominational church.

        Here is a big question… growing up, my Catholic friends said they were not allowed (by their priest) to read the Bible. I mean no offense to Catholics, but I wanted to ask if that is true of your church. If it is or is not, I believe scripture is the place to go during these dark times. I specifically recommend the King James Bible (old or new edition).

        I understand what you are saying about divorce. But, above all else, the only reason to seek a divorce is if you can get 100% custody. In a no-fault state chances are slim. In my state there are cases where the courts felt sorry for a sexually abusive parent. If they got the wrong kind of guardian ad litem involved and if that guardian ad litem was swayed by sympathy for the abusive parent, the abusive parent got shared custody with no supervised visits. As a mom, that would be my worst nightmare.

        Announcement to all betrayed spouses who need proof. I was at the drug store the other day and they were selling a tiny camera that was motion activated. It is super cheap and anyone can afford it. Spouses, put it in your master bedroom and buy it with cash. I bought one:

    • Elizabeth

      I have never been told in our church not to read the bible so we definitely have one in the house and my daughter is taught from it at school – I think that idea harks back to days when most people weren’t literate and priests were the only ones who could read the bible or anything else. re feeling sorry for abusive parents – I pity the depravity of anyone who lives in such a dark place morally but would never condone putting a child in their unsupervised care! Insanity!

    • Elizabeth

      Hi Sarah
      Can I ask what you think of dissassociatuve identity disorder? I have just read the myth of sanity book about it and wondered if that could be the reason why my CS doesn’t seem able to admit to what he is doing even in the face of incontrovertible evidence. Would a person with DID know they were having an affair as one of their alter egos when they were in their normal persona? CS has just got very angry with me for mentioning the menstrual blood evidence and has now decided to go away at Xmas back to his parents overseas and to tell them and his friends about my “false” accusation and how it is ruining our relationship. He hopes to do this to punish me and make me retract. However I know he won’t actually enjoy going there and having to admit the perfect life he likes others to envy is not so perfect. I do wonder if this level of self sabotage could be from DID or is it just a personality disorder?! Sometimes he does use a voice that sounds like a much younger boy for no discernibke reason but then he does also avoid our neighbour as he knows that he knows re affair. It’s all very confusing! One time I did come home and he looked at me without recognising me for a split second as though he thought it would be AP and not me coming through the door and his voice sounded like Someone else when he called out to greet me before he saw it was me. It was chilling.

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