Coming to the realization that the affair is not your fault is difficult for a betrayed spouse to do.

the affair is not your faultBy Linda

Sadly, many (if not most) betrayed spouses blame themselves for their spouse’s affair.  I know I did at first.  It took me a long time to understand that Doug’s emotional affair was not my fault and that he was solely responsible for his actions. 

Sure there were mistakes that I had made throughout our marriage that I needed to be aware of, accept responsibility for and ultimately fix, but that’s where my part in all of this mess ended.

But getting past thinking that the affair was your fault is a hard thing for a betrayed spouse to do.  It takes an understanding of why the affair happened, knowledge of the dynamics of an affair and the ability to shift your thinking to where you truly believe that you are perfectly fine the way you are.

Last week we received an email from Dr. Bob Huizenga that addresses this issue very effectively and I’d like to share it with you today.  I feel that until you can come to the realization that the affair was not your fault, you will not be able to move towards personal power and healing.


Here is Bob’s email:

4 Keys to Knowing the Affair is NOT Your Fault  

The chances for infidelity healing and the possibilities for stopping the affair and overcoming infidelity are greatly enhanced once it sinks into your heart and soul that you are not at fault for the affair. You are not defective. You did not cause him/her to jump into the arms of another person. You are not to be blamed for the infidelity.

See also  How an Affair Stole Christmas – Well, Not Really but it Sure Can Make it Complicated

Overcoming Infidelity means coming to this awareness and strong belief that you are not at fault or to blame for his/her actions. This infidelity healing liberates you from the debilitating feelings and thoughts and sets you on a new course of action and healing. As well, the capacity for you to intervene in the life of the affair in a highly effective manner is magnified.

So, the question becomes, “How to you truly reach this point in overcoming infidelity?” Most, when confronted by the infidelity are grabbed, held and immobilized by this sense of defectiveness and personal responsibility for his/her actions.

Here are 4 ways of shifting your thinking that will accelerate the infidelity healing and bring relief from the sense of blame and fault.

1. O.K. Accept the fact that in your relationships you made mistakes. Yes, you did. Some of them were maybe fairly large. But, who in a relationship of investment doesn’t make mistakes; some of them silly, some of them large? Could you have done something differently? Of course! We all could have. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

“Mistakes” in a marriage are often fertile grounds for learning and growing. Did s/he use your mistakes as a springboard for learning and change? Did s/he come to you and say, “Hey, I don’t like this. Things need to change. Let’s work it out?”

And even if you made NO mistakes, how boring and predictable would that be? Yawn…..

2. Come to the realization that the decision to enter into an affair is his/her personal decision. A rather poor decision, but his/her decision nonetheless.

You see, affairs have nothing to do with love (although you probably believe or s/he says s/he fell out of love with you and loves someone else) but more with three different factors.

See also  How to Confront a Cheating Spouse

Affairs may arise out of deep unmet personal needs (such as the affair type, “I Fell out of Love..and just love being in love.”) One become attached to another seeking to fill that emptiness or deep chasm. (Little does s/he realize that another person cannot make me “complete” – sorry Tom Cruise.)

Someone may choose an affair as a result of a character disorder (“I Don’t Want to Say NO’).

Or, s/he chooses an affair as an attempt to deal with a dysfunction life-long coping pattern (“I Can’t Say No”).

Infidelity is a blind attempt to manage one’s inner ghosts.

3. In conjunction with the realization of his/her personal ghosts is the relief you experience once you dig into learning about the characteristics of someone who would enter a specific kind of affair.

I outline 7 distinct types of affairs in my ebook, “Break Free From the Affair.”  A person is likely to choose or act out a particular kind of affair depending on his/her personal characteristics. I list in detail the characteristics of a person likely to choose that type of affair.

I’ve received hundreds of emails from the wounded spouse exclaiming his/her relief once reading over the lists. Such comments as, “This is him/her to a “T.” Wow! this is right on! Now, they have a handle, a different handle on what they are facing. It makes sense. There is a pattern. Their sense of personal chaos is diminished.

4. Another significant shift in the “fault” game occurs when you discover that the OP (other person) is not “better” than you.

You may realize someday that you truly or worthy and have value as a person, and you need not compare yourself to the other person. Or as you begin to understand the dynamics of infidelity you discover that health and saneness is on your side.

See also  31 Survivors Share Their Lessons Learned, Mistakes Made and Affair Advice

My theory (hatched in over 25 years of clinical practice, research and my conclusions about the nature of humanity) tells me that eventually those who benefit MOST from infidelity are the wounded spouses. Why? They typically become the ones who in their pain, confront themselves, learn, make shifts in their thinking and feelings and redesign themselves in ways that are more harmonious with whom they truly are.

The cheating spouse? Well, s/he misguidedly throws him/herself more and more into his/her personal neediness, character disorder or coping pattern dysfunction. His/her emotions, values and behavior go down the tubes, although s/he at that moment of infidelity and attachment to the other person may deny so.

That’s why the divorce and unhappiness stats for those who have an affair, divorce and marry another are exceedingly high. No learning, no personal evolution has emerged. At some point s/he may discover that s/he has taken him/her self with him/her… and that is the problem.

These shifts in your thinking are indispensable in getting on the path of health, well-being and as that happens welcome your new found personal power to shape your life, perhaps the path of the infidelity and perhaps the path and direction of your marriage or relationship.

Dr. Bob Huizenga

“Break Free From the Affair” is Bob’s cornerstone book.  However, he has authored several other books and reports that can help you with overcoming infidelity.  You can check them out, along with his website – and/or sign up for his regular newsletter by clicking here.


    33 replies to "4 Keys to Knowing the Affair is NOT Your Fault"

    • Kathy

      Linda, thank you for sharing this email today.

      Item #2. particularly hit me. I wonder if we BS continue to blame ourselves for a while because it seems less painful than to consider and admit that “the decision to enter into an affair is his/her personal decision”.

      It hurts really bad to think that my H made a conscious decision to get involved with the OW. Even though I know she was like a vulture just waiting for an opportunity, he did not have to go along with it. But he did, and that hurts a lot.

      Even though there were things I did that made my H very unhappy, it has taken me a long time to believe that those things were his excuses to make himself feel better about having the EA in the first place.

      It has taken me a long time to let go of feeling guilty and to place the responsibility for the affair squarely on my H’s shoulders, as well as those of the OW. It hurts to know that he knowingly did this to me, to us.

      Even though he says “it just happened”, I know that’s not how it went. Maybe it seemed that way to him at the time, but each time they interacted, he had to make the conscious choice to be involved with her. That’s really painful and rather hard to accept.

      But in the long run it’s better than destroying my soul with guilt.

    • Roller coaster rider

      I agree, Kathy, it is really painful to think that the person you love most in this world could deliberately choose to hurt you in this way. In fact, that was one of the things my H said on D-Day…”I knew how much this would hurt you, and I did it anyway.” Thankfully, he is now in therapy and will hopefully be able to see WHY he made that decision. I went through six painful weeks of analyzing my own role in his infidelity and I know for sure that while there are changes I need to make, I don’t have any reason to blame myself for HIS infidelity. And while for a time, I thought there was a reason to compare myself with the OP, I know now that she is not a better person nor is she better for my H than I am. That is freeing. I also know that I have a right to want certain qualities and behaviors in my marriage. I am not settling for scraps…of attention, affection, emotional connection. He needs to truly CHOOSE me.

    • Paula

      Well put, RCR. My OH says he understands that the worst things I did, I did out of ignorance, I was trying to make things better, but they were the wrong things, because I had no information from him, because he stopped communicating with me, and I was trying to do SOMETHING to help him. By this, I mostly mean the long work hours, I thought I was contributing to our partnership, not stealing from it, pretty stupid, in retrospect!

      Also, he said a similar thing, I knew it would hurt you, but I did it anyway, because I just didn’t care anymore. This is very painful, because I don’t understand the turning off and on of the “caring” part, I’ve always loved and HAD always trusted him! When will he choose to turn it off again?

    • Roller coaster rider

      Paula, I was thinking this exact thing this morning. How will I ever be able to relax in the knowledge that my H would never do such a thing to me again? All I know is that should he ever choose another in the future, we’re done.

      • Paula

        Haha, RCR, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me! Unfortunately, it’s a decision whether to stay long enough for the “second fooling” to occur, lol, that’s the tough part! I think most of us are in the same boat, it won’t happen again, if it does, it’s very simple… (see above, likewise!)

        I didn’t really ever feel like it was “my fault,” I had been a giver in this relationship, from the start, so felt that my contribution to the awful way he was feeling, whilst certainly not perfect, was done in ignorance, not intentionally, or with any feeling that anything I was doing was wrong, quite the opposite, I was trying to help! That doesn’t stop you from taking a good, hard look at yourself and the way you “read” situations incorrectly.

        Starting some counselling that is a bit unusual, sounds like this is what we are going to deal with mostly, the letting yourself love fully, even though there is risk, in order to not live a “half-life,” I’ll let you know if there’s anything to it, it will take the best part of 4 months to get through it all (gulp – damn living in the sticks and having to commute!) would be nice if it works. At the end of the day, we’ve all been through this horrid experience, we know so much more about ourselves, and we have faced the possibility of separation much more closely than ever before, and it wouldn’t take a second to slam that door and change the locks, and if our CSs don’t want to change or learn from this, they don’t bloody well deserve all the effort we’ve made anyway, there’s SO much more to life than some ungrateful b&^%$!!!

        • roller coaster rider

          So Paula, I guess that I have to go back to our history…being together since we were children, there is a lot to go back to. The important thing for me now is that I get to decide whether to continue on or call it quits and I have really been looking at what I want. My therapist today told me she thinks I have done a lot of work in processing all of this, and she is helping me so much to decide what it is I must see if I am going to stay in this relationship. The funny thing is, it seems I have made some decisions all along the way since D-Day that have helped me to move forward, and I don’t take credit for them (although, I suppose, I could have chosen to stay in the self-doubt, ‘what can I do to prove my love’ stage) and the most recent is that I’ve decided to (as my therapist puts it) stay in my own shoes and feel my own feelings, and stop obsessing over the ‘what ifs’. I have decided to write down what I want in this relationship, and I am going to communicate it as things play out and then sit back and watch if the behavioral changes are being attempted, if H will do his own work in therapy and come to some understanding of what it was that led to his falling for the pack of lies, etc. Then I will have a better idea of what to do, and of what will be best for me and our future, together or apart.

    • Holding On

      This is freeing. I am 2 month from D-day and for a while felt like I was partly to blame because of the way I had not been there for my husband and he had ended up giving up on me. So after D-Day I was constantly working at “keeping him here” like it was all up to me. It was exhausting. My H helped me realize this. It was freeing to realize that the affair was his choice. He made the choice and it was nothing I did or didn’t do for that kind of behavior. It freed me from worrying about if I was mad or sad or “not getting over this” he would cheat. It is not up to me to have him be faithful. It ultimately is up to him. Very freeing, but also scary at the same time. I wanted to feel like I was in control of something to keep him with me. But I’m not. HE needs to choose the marriage. I feel confident that my husband chooses me and us now. But like RCR, if this ever happens again, I’m not willing to forgive and work. This has been hell.

      • Mary

        So many women who are caretakers, because that’s what we women sometimes were raised to be and may be in our nature, but in this day and time, we SHOULD NEVER take on any responsibility for what our husbands have done without our knowledge. Not in any way. Do you you know why? Because they get very good at hiding if they want to. Lots of us women have been raised to be caretakers, there’s nothing wrong with that? What is a home anyway, with kids in home, it’s not always in ideal perfect picture. Lots of times woman weren’t taught to nurture themselves also. I surely wasn’t. Now is a fine time to start. When betrayal happens, questions start, it’s normal and may go on for a very long time. I’m starting to believe in light at the end of the tunnel. And it has taken dork on myself also.

    • RecoveringMommy

      To me, it’s all a vicious cycle that just keeps repeating during the EA. I have no doubt that the feelings of being taken forgranted, unappreciated, etc… on part of the cheating spouse are very real. In my situation, my H felt “emasculated,” taken forgranted, and that nothing he did was good enough. But instead of relaying these feelings to me, he chose on his own free will to share them with another woman. The OW would tell him how wonderful he was and how she would never treat him like that. So the OW gains a point and me (the BS) loses about 10 points. There’s no way a BS can compete with that! So my H was having his ego stroked by the OW who never had to experience his negatives, only his positives. In the meantime, mean ol’ wife was just compounding to the situation even though she had no idea her H was feeling this way. By this point, me (the BS) is feeling unloved and also taken forgranted which made me lash out even more. I was desperately seeking attention from my H, but the attention I needed was being given to the OW.

      I hope this makes sense to everyone reading, as it makes sense in my head. But I may not have relayed it well.

      • Kathy

        It makes sense to me. Very similar to what I went through.

      • Shero21

        Hi RecoveringMom,

        I am new here. I recently found out my husband of almost 2 years was having an affair that started about 8 months into our marriage. Your comment makes complete sense. My husband has never been a good communicator, in fact he has a very passive aggressive personality so I wasnt aware he was unhappy and by the time he told me that he felt disconnected from me he was already knee deep into his affair. In retrospect I realize any mistake I made was weighed heavily because he had his OW to run to and make him feel better. It’s like running in a race and you aren’t even aware you’re competing.

        • RecoveringMommy

          I’m so glad that made sense and that people other than me feel that way. Shero21, d-day for me was April 29, 2011. The same day as the 10 year anniversary of my grandpa’s passing. My grandmother was at my house when I discovered the emails. I still feel like absolute poo poo that she had to witness that on what was already a bad day. Also, May 1st (2 days later) was our 6 year wedding anniversary.

      • Mary

        That is exactly what my husband did. And it was with someone at work. So when he came home after 8 hours or more with her, he basically checked out on me, everything

    • Kathy

      Holding, I like what you said: “It is not up to me to have him be faithful”. I’m almost 9 months from d-day and I still struggle with this, I suppose because I did blame myself almost entirely for his EA and that was easier than thinking he made a conscious choice to do it. I still worry that if I’m mad, sad or “not getting over this” he will cheat again. But it’s true that it’s ultimately his choice. There really isn’t anything I can or cannot do to prevent him from cheating if that’s what he makes up his mind to do.

      I have also told my H that it better not ever happen again because it will be the end of our marriage. It has indeed been hell, and I won’t go through it again.

    • Paula

      I totally understand the “if it happens again, I’m leaving,” bit, but isn’t that what we all thought if it happened EVEN ONCE??? How well did that work as a deterrent?

    • Sad Mad Wife

      I’m almost 1 month from D-day. I’m really trying to believe that the cheating was all my H’s fault, but he’s told me that it was my neglect of his needs, emotionally and physically over the YEARS that squashed his love and passion for me and made him look outside our marriage. It’s so hard to stay positive and focus the blame where it needs to be. He met the OW by chance at a restaurant. She is from another town about 1 hour away. Struck up a conversation and exchanged numbers. From then on talking, texting, meeting, lying, etc. He has told me he hasn’t seen her since D-day, but has talked to her on the phone, when he’s at work about 4 times. He has told me he loves and cares what happens to me (like a good friend), but is not “In Love” anymore. He doesn’t think he’ll ever feel that way about me again. He feels guilty and sad. That’s his spin, and apparently his truth, but that is not what I remember or feel about our marriage. I take responsibility for my part of not communicating and allowing us to feel unconnected and his impression of being unloved. We’ve been married for 21 years. We’d go out together a minimum of 2 nights alone. We’d play tennis together several times a week. We’d watch movies together as a family. Eat dinner as a family. Until the affair. I thought it was stress from his new job. I had no idea it was another woman. H started hanging with “new” friends that I’d never met, supposedly from work. It went from 1 night a week to several nights a week to we’re going on a guys weekend that he is gone. Some days are better than others. I had an emotional night last night. It is helpful to read what others write and to have a voice of my own. He is still living in our house and sleeping in our bed. We’ve even made love. Then he said that it was just sex (that hurts) and that I’m still attractive to him. But his passion for me is gone. Has anyone else experienced this kind of treatment? I’m so confused. Has anyone else been through this and found that the marriage could stand?

      • RecoveringMommy

        I would advise not making any life altering decisions right now. A book I just finished reading, “Not just friends,” advises waiting at least 3 months before making a final decision. It sounds to me that your H is still in the affair fog. If you love him and want to save your marriage, give him some time to come out of it. And by saying that, I DO NOT condone what he did. Just speaking from my experience and that others that I’ve read about.

      • Doug

        Sad Mad Wife, Doug and I went through almost everything you have described, down to some of the same conversations. Please do not give up hope and do not take all the blame for his affair. I hope you read some of the posts in our site it may help you with your confusion. LInda

    • Keri

      I am stilll blamig myself somewhat, as it has only been 2 months since I found out. Yes of course I made mistakes, but I never would have done this to him, never.

      If I say anything about it he flips out on me, trying to avoid it. There is “never” a good time to talk about it, either the kids are around or he’s too tired from work, he says.

      We have a one year old and have been together for 4 years is all. He was having EA’s with at least 3 women I know about (and met 2 of them). All the while I was being nice little SAHM watching the baby living my sheltered life.

      So I find out a month after d-day that he was talkng to these women the whole time I was pregnant! I can’t get it out of my mind now that even our pregnancy/delivery seems “falsified” and not important anymore.

      I am so obsessive and I hate myself for it, I hate feeling hatred towards him, I hate myself, I feel sorry for our son. He even blames me saying i was “mean” and never listened to his “feelings”. He actually picked fights with me all the time wo make himself feel better about what he was doing during this time.

      I hate my life and him right now.

    • Keri

      Has anyone gotten through this and made their relationship work without the cheating spouse going to counseling? I was thinking of just going by myself, without him.

      • Doug

        Keri, Yes, Linda and I have! Based on comments that I’ve read, it seems that many betrayed spouses end up going to therapy by themselves at some point. Remember…do what YOU need to do for yourself and your own healing.

      • RecoveringMommy

        Keri, I will say that me and my H are going strong and neither one of us have gone to counseling. Mainly because of financial reasons but it can be done. I would advise lots of prayer regardless of if you go to counseling or not 🙂

        • Keri

          Thank you ‘RecoveringMommy’
          We are basically in the same boat, financial wise. That’s honestly the only reason I haven’t gone yet. It seems when I am ready to try and ‘hold my tongue’ something else pops up. Today one of his EA’s messaged me on FB. I didn’t respond. 🙁

          • RecoveringMommy

            Paula, very interesting about the government paying for therapy. I may read up on it.

            Keri, I’m so sorry! There must be a full moon pulling the OW toward us today…lol! I saw the OW at a school function tonight. As usual walking around with her happy little family like she did nothing wrong. The evil, revengeful person inside my head wanted to claw that smile off her face…I must admit! Her daughter goes to school with mine even though they live out of the district and they’re supposed to go to another school. I’m so tired of feeling like a prisoner in the town where I live!

    • Paula

      Keri, whilst counselling seems like it will be the answer, it can be extrememly frustrating, because it is hard to find the “right fit,” and the wrong one is expensive and disappointing. We didn’t have any counselling immediately, we let the dust settle a little, in fact, I think we had a period of about 4-5 months where there was better everything (still very saturated with intense pain) but better communication, better (oh, do I mean BETTER!!!) sex (OMG) better quality of life, but when I didn’t feel any “better” – that word again – after a while, I looked into couples counselling. We went to a couple of sessions together, OH then decided he was “better” – he was really just appeasing me by going – and I continued on for a little while, and the guy didn’t really “get it,” I don’t think. Later, I attempted suicide (I know, hideous) and ended up with a psychologist for a bit, then a break of several months, then back to her, then she sent me to a psychiatrist (meds, uuugh) then a break, then about a year later, I found a different psychologist, and he has now referred the pair of us to a new (more expensive!! and living 2 and a half hours away!!!) couples therapist, who has a completely different approach to this area, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. This is absolutely the last person I will talk to over this, believe me, if I could send the OW the bill for all this, I would, we are also not wealthy, although we are also not on the breadline, this has been a major investment!

      In our country, you can get 6 free sessions of couples therapy, with certain therapists, paid for by the government, via the Ministry of Justice (supposed to help avoid costly divorce, or facilitate more amicable separations and custody arrangements) which I’m sure is useful for many, is there any way you can find free or less expensive help, I’m not sure of how? Without counselling, which in the end is just acquiring information and skills, I think reading and educating yourself is probably just as effective (and cheaper, lol!) But your point is, BOTH of you need to learn about this, not just you, if your marriage is to survive, one person can’t row the boat and steer while the other one just hangs about on the sunlounger! However, you can’t make another person bend to your will, you will not be able to force him to read, learn, etc, he has to show you he will help you by participating actively in your recovery, together, and educating yourself WILL help YOU to move on, whether you do that with your H, or alone.

      I’m not sure how any of this counselling helped me, I don’t think I’ve really learned anything new (I’m pretty well educated, had a lot of this knowledge already, being the child of divorced parents in my late teens, and other “life” stuff that happened along the way, quite self-aware, etc) I think the therapy, mostly, for me just calmed things for a while, then it would flare up again, as nothing was really changed, I hadn’t really learnt any new ways of thinking, communicating, or picking up on stuff, as my shrinks have all said, I did nothing wrong really, just didn’t have a partner who could communicate his hurt when he needed to most. I’ve thought about what it was about me that made that so tough for him, and I’m not blameless, there was a LOT of very busy and stressful stuff going on at the time of the affair, and I wasn’t aware he was hurting so much, although I did know that something was up, but after probing and poking at him, and getting, “everything’s fine” all the time, I guess I kinda thought I was imagining it, everything was fine, just needed to slow down a bit, but that would happen as kids left home, etc, and the first one was about to leave for university, ie, procrastinate about dealing with it NOW.

      I wish you mountains of luck in your journey, so many appropriate quotes here, eg, Churchill’s if you’re going through hell, keep going; what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, etc…. I’m sure it’s all true, but it is a very, very hard life lesson, one we didn’t really need to learn, much love xxx

    • Losing Hope

      1. O.K. Accept the fact that in your relationships you made mistakes. Yes, you did. Some of them were maybe fairly large.

      Yes i made mistakes, my H did to. He should have never sought someone outside our marriage.
      But he did tell me throught his EA that he couldnt talk to me and i made him feel defensive. He was very mean to me while he was having the EA. I dont think he even realizes it. We have 20yrs of resentments and things that were never said.

      I do take a personal blame for why we are where we are. He just handled it differently. He went and found a OW, and i just sunk into a deppression. Now that we are both on the same page…He wont stop trying to see her on the net!

      Im pretty humilated. Hes telling me one thing then going right back to sneaking around.

      So, i dont blame myself for anything he has done since we both decided that we would move forward and he would give up the OW. H tries to put the blame on me for some of the continued sneaking, but i will not accept it. Its either you stop, or you continue sneaking. I cant believe he tries to blame me. Ridiculous!

    • TLC

      Can anyone tell the signs of H coming out of the affair fog. I just don’t know want to believe. It is know he constantly has one eye on me. I don’t want to cut him down with my mistrust if he truely has ended the relationship. He wants to talk but finds it hard to talk about the affair.

    • TLC

      I never accepted responsibility for the affair. It was with my best friend. I was so gutted I moved out vertially straight away for my kids sake. His character, manner and looks have changed and it is hard to relate to him as my husband. I knew what I was able to handle and felt the kids were better been away from us living in a broken relationship in a broken home. Now he blames me for leaving him rather than the affair as to why our marriage is in the state it is in. As far as my friend went, ended the friendship obviously, confronted her about the many lies to her husband, kept it civil and nice and realised I am a far better person and will never have to feel the way she does about herself. Any advice on how to handle my husband with communication attempts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.