life after infidelity
Life after infidelity and emotional abuse sometimes requires a ‘just do it’ attitude.

Today we have a guest post from “Mary C” who is a freelance writer based in Shreveport, La. Mary writes on a variety of topics for web and print but she is also a survivor of infidelity and emotional abuse.  She shares some of her story with us today of emotional abuse as well as a few tips for life after infidelity.

Most people that have been the victim of infidelity know it is abuse, plain and simple. Each of us experience it differently, for different reasons, and we deal with it in different ways. Today, I am a strong and happy woman. I was always strong; someone just had to remind me. I want to make it clear that I think marriage is a wonderful thing if the love and respect is mutual. Should love ever come my way again, I will open my heart and embrace that love.

Unfortunately, some of you will relate to my story. If so, my wish is that you will have a similar ending as well.  

The Bad Boy Syndrome

When it comes to abuse, I have experienced most types including physical, mental, and emotional. I have been married three times. I’m a slow learner. I always seem to choose “bad boys.” Some of you can probably identify with that as well. My counselor once told me that bad boys are what I am attracted to and it will most likely always be that way. That is not exactly what I wanted to hear, but counselors are like that. They tell us the truth instead of what we want to hear. Go figure. Nevertheless, I highly recommend therapy. She is the one that helped me remember how strong I am. She woke me up so I could do what was necessary to regain my sanity.    

Husband Number Two

Since we are on the topic of infidelity, husbands one and three will be another story at another time. My second husband was the guru of infidelity. I will attempt to give you a brief indication of what he was like. He was the most handsome man I had ever seen. There was nothing unattractive about him. When he entered a room, every woman, young or old, single or married, turned their head in his direction. However, my biggest attraction to him was his self-assurance. It was obvious that he was aware of all the adoration coming from those women. He seemed to be entirely secure with it. I fell completely in love with him.

He began cheating on me within six months after we were married. I was shattered. I could not endure the vision of another woman being in his arms. He seemed genuinely remorseful about the betrayal so, of course, I forgave him.

That is how it progressed for the next ten years. I would catch him, he would be apologetic, and I would absolve him. It was as if these women were on a list and anticipating their turn to have a chance with my husband. I became a pro at catching my unfaithful spouse; however, I still wanted to keep fighting for my marriage. You are probably thinking that I let him off too easy and you are right. Of course, he would continue to cheat if I kept forgiving him. However, you will soon learn that when I tried to take a stand, it did not work out very well.

The Mental Abuse Began

I finally left him and that is when the mental abuse began. I will make a long story short to spare you the graphic details. He found me, took me out in the middle of nowhere, and held a gun to my head. He told me that he was going to kill me for leaving him. I was terrified to say the least. I told him anything and everything that I thought he wanted to hear. I told him I was wrong and I would never leave him again. He finally released me, but it was not the last time it would happen. For years, fear was his way of preventing me from leaving him.

Sometimes the only thing left to do is give it up and move on. However, in this case, I believed leaving could be life threatening for me. This will sound extreme, but I reached the point where I believed in order to be free, one of us would have to die. Unfortunately, I feared that it would be me. Obviously, I eventually did become free and everyone lived. The way I finally made that happen will also be another story.

Life After Infidelity – Getting Past the Pain and Abuse

When the relationship ends, we have to get past the heartache and somehow learn to trust and love again. Many times, the injured party loses all self-worth. They begin to think that if they were prettier or more handsome, or if they were smarter, or had tried harder, it would not have happened. They eventually convince themselves that they are somehow to blame. As a result, they feel unworthy of a loving relationship with a good person.

How did I get past it? I suppose you could say I am immensely stubborn. I have seen other women let it destroy them. I refused to fall into that way of thinking. I never allowed myself to think I deserved a single minute of the treatment I was enduring. Yes, he was controlling me, but I was not going to let him destroy my spirit. 

Why Did the Abuse Happen?

There are countless reasons why people cheat. Was he just the kind of person that could not say no to those women? Perhaps he did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Well, I think we can all agree it is not likely that those were his reasons.

I began to remember some things he had told me through the years. For instance, he once mentioned that his first wife told him he was a terrible lover. I began remembering other little things he had said that a person with his self-regard would not say. By the way, his first wife was correct. He was a terrible lover. Sorry, I had to throw that in there.

Eventually, I realized that he in no way had the self-assurance that he portrayed. He was a desperately insecure man. Strangely enough, he had to have woman after woman to keep convincing himself that he was a desirable man. If all those women wanted him, then he must be desirable. I never learned the reason for his extreme insecurities.

Wouldn’t it have been easier for him to be single? Being caught by me would no longer be a concern. Amazingly, I believe that would not have worked for him. There had to be someone there for him to betray. Unfortunately, he picked me for that role. I am still unable to understand that. If anyone has the answer, I would like to hear it.

Just do It!

Sometimes, in order to get past something like this, you just have to do it. I know you might think you are not strong enough. There is help out there and you should not hesitate to grab it. Please believe you are much stronger than you think you are. You have to reach down deep inside yourself every day. You have to repudiate anything and anyone that tries to beat you down. Before you realize it, you will be strong again. You must refuse to allow anyone to control how you feel about yourself.     


    12 replies to "Life After Infidelity – Wake Up and Regain Your Sanity"

    • justbecause

      Upon first reading this, I thought wow, this is extreme. There is no way I can relate to this. Then I kept reading and came to the authors part about her thoughts as to her H’s insecutity issues. Even though My H never had a PA or held a gun to my head (!!!), I can see where his issues, his lack of self assurance, his need to feel better about himself led to his EA.

      Our counselor said he wasn’t getting what he needed at home. That has been true at times. But I have no guilt in that. My H was an alcoholic, at times an abusive person. I tried and tried. Love the name rollercoasterider. That’s just what my life felt like – up and down.

      It wasn’t until I discovered the EA and was making plans to leave, that my H gave up alcohol and his secretive ways. He is a much different person now. So far, so good.

    • Recovering

      I do not feel guilty for my husband “not getting what he needed at home” either, though he wasn’t an alcoholic or anything like that. He was just in night school 4 nights a week, we have 2 kids, and I was in school full-time during the day and doing everything. He almost literally WAS a paycheck! I can’t feel guilty about him not getting what he needed at home because at the time THAT was supposed to be the sacrifice for our future. A sacrifice for a LIMITED time. We all were making sacrifices. And he obviously had enough time to flirt with the whore at work, and MADE time to go out drinking “with the guys”, which worked against me because I didn’t know there were women there and because I felt he needed an outlet BECAUSE we were so crazy!! So being what I thought was a supportive spouse backfired!! Of course I didnt WANT him to go out after work, I wanted him to come home, but I was also trying to be understanding and NOT be the nagging wife… he knew that and played on it – abuse… lied when I asked him point blank if he was cheating… abuse… tried to tell me that it was all my fault he had an affair… abuse…. Cheating is all about abuse in one form or another. We all know cheating is mean and cruel, and anything else we call mean and cruel we call abuse. It is all wrapped up in some form of insecurity on the abusers part, and like it or not, we let them manipulate us. Even now, it’s been a year and a half since I found out, and I still find myself trying to not be the “nagging” wife. I still feel the rediculous self-guilt I got so used to giving into, but now I push past it!! I will never again have even the possiblity of being able to say to myself that his cheating was my fault (even though we all know that it was NEVER my fault, we do end up blaming ourselves sometimes because we let THEM blame us). I will NEVER let him do this to me again. I wouldn’t shed a tear if it happened again, which I do pray it doesn’t, but I can’t control him and shouldn’t have to!!! He IS a grown-up after all!! I wouldn’t want him if he did it again… almost didn’t want him after this first cheating… I won’t let him control me anymore in any way. Love isn’t supposed to be like that. And like “justbecause” it is “So far, so good.” Only time will tell where we end up and if all of this heartache and work on US will have been worth it!

      • Mary

        It’s great hearing you say you will not be controled again. I am so glad you refuse to blame yourself ever again. You are so right. You can’t control someone else. I truly hope you are able to have a happy life with your husband again. Stay strong.

    • Natalia

      This morning, when I read this post, I also thought this was extreme and that my H would never hurt me physically like that. He did hurt me emotionally that’s why I felt it was different. It’s been 2 years since Dday and I can say that it’s not different. The pain of betrayal puts you in such a state of shock that if feels like a punch in the gut, like someone ripped your heart out. You feel powerless because you can’t grasp the notion that this person, your spouse, the one who’s suppose to love you and protect you, has done such a horrible thing to you.

      I’ve had enough time now to put my thoughts in order, to analyze why he did what he did and how to overcome my pain. I’ve read many books and joined this blog. Not a day goes by that I don’t inform myself and “teach” my H how his vulnerabilities almost ended our marriage.

      Just like the person in this post, I also fell in love with a man that seemed to be in control, was self-assured, intelligent, witty, and had a great sense of humor. Add to that, handsome. He could have any woman eating out of his hand whenever he smiled. If we went to a restaurant, the waitress would IGNORE me and only address him! At first I thought it was silly and even funny, but then it became annoying when I saw how much he enjoyed this strange attention.

      After rethinking and remembering the times when he could be extremely sweet and romantic one moment and nasty and critical the next, I came to realize that he had a problem. It wasn’t until I read a link that was posted on this blog by “Rachel” on 7/31/12 in “What is Commitment in a Marriage”: that I understood who my husband really was and what was his problem. He had many traits of the narcissistic personality. I always felt there was something wrong in the way he would gaslight me or stonewall me but I was so naïve I would blame it on myself. I used to live in a rollercoaster almost daily. I would ask myself what was I doing wrong to make him angry and looked for ways of making myself “invisible” so as to not call his attention to my “defects” and avoid his criticism.

      After he read the link has taken GIGANTIC steps towards helping me heal and improve our marriage. Neither one of us had ever read about narcissism and it gave us a new understanding of why he was so vulnerable to have EAs. But most importantly he now knows how to avoid the EA trap.

      • rachel

        I’m so glad that link on narcissist helped you. Glad things are working out for you. : )

        • Natalia

          Rachel, thank you for your post. You have no idea how much you helped me by posting that. The day I read it I was dumbfounded! I couldn’t believe how accurately it described my husband. Actually I was somewhat horrified and scared at the same time. I printed it and gave it to my husband to read. He took it with him to work and he said he saw himself reflected in everything that was said. He realized how abusive he had been to me (his words) and how unfair he was. He also cried and apologized for being such a jerk. This was the turning point in our healing process. I feel so empowered and stronger now. Thank you again.

          • rachel


            I have to give your husband loads of credit for even reading and admitting that he was wrong. My Husband wouldn’t even look at it because he feels he’s done nothing wrong. It describes him to a “T”. I actually highlighted the area’s about him and it’s the entire article!
            So be it, I will move on. Its actually nice not hearing the nagging of his dislike of my clothing and my hair. I’m not walking of egg shells wondering what is making him mad. I shop for clothing that I like and It’s quite freeing.
            If I want to stay in my pajamas till noonon the weekends and just hang out and talk with my son or read a book or just watch a movie, It’s so relaxing and nice. Almost peaceful.
            Good Luck, Natalia. Sounds like you and your husband are on a good road.

    • gracefortoday

      That is what hurts the most as I am trying to come to terms with my husband’s infidelity. Although he does NOT blame me, and does say it is all his fault, he also says that he felt unloved and abandoned at the time. He reflects now that those were minor feelings but the OW was leaning on him hard to make mountains out of molehills. I had competition and never knew it. It’s hard to compete when you have four kids, and all the attendant activities they bring, along with housework, laundry, cooking etc. against a single woman with no kids and all the free time in the world to build up his ego. Especially when they were working together all day every day.

      We were going through some rough things. Lost my mom and his dad. Real estate losses, nearly lost our business, pretty big health issues, adopted two kids, moved, and the list could go on. But as someone else said above, I saw this as a “Season” in our lives. That we had some rough things to deal with that were dragging us BOTH down. I hung in there and he cheated. It is sad and it is unfair. Did I do or not do some things that contributed to the vulnerability of our marriage for an affair to happen. YES!!!! BUT…..SO DID HE!!! I had opportunity to cheat and I did not. I reached out and suggested counseling, talking to our family doctor, etc. He never saw these as an option. The AP was going to heal him. What a joke. Now we live with the aftermath and struggle to rebuild.

    • Mary

      I realize the article is different from most of the ones you usually read here. My experiences were extreme. When you read it, it is understandable to immediately think it was physical abuse. However, this man only physically hurt me one time. He was able to control me through fear with his words.

      • Doug

        Hey Mary, Great post, BTW…Anyways, though your situation may have been extreme, it reminds me of an interview Linda and I had with a therapist who made a comment along the lines of “Affairs can be life or death situations.” Though most people here have experienced immense emotional pain and trauma, there are others who have lost their lives because of infidelity and/or various forms of mental or physical abuse. Though your ex used his actions and words to control you, I think that you are still fortunate that he didn’t seriously harm you physically.

    • Belinda

      I, like Mary suffered many versions of abuse. First by my parents and then by my husband. He has had his second emotional affair with the same women. I didn’t make any demands the first time because I believed the line “we are just friends”. He told her I was not comfortable with the friendship and I believed – hoped – it was over. I found out last month it was not and I am completely overwhelmed. It has gone on for five years. He is still running with it is OK because nothing happened (she lives 1000 miles away) . Mary, your experiences were extreme and I hope you have found someone wonderful to share your life with now.

      • Mary

        Hi Belinda,

        After a relationship, it seems like we are supposed to be with someone, but I wanted to find out what it would be like to just be with me. I found out that I liked it. I have been happily single for a long time now. If I meet someone someday and it works, that will be wonderful. If not, I will continue to be perfectly contented.

        I hope you work out your situation soon. I know how hard it is.

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