In Something New! Open Discussion: Talk Amongst Yourselves, we asked you guys to spill your guts about what your biggest fears were, and you totally came through. Not everyone would be willing to say what they’re afraid of about marital affairs. But enough of you were brave enough to give us 6 different fears.

We need to talk about fear

It’s easy to give people rational advice about what to do, but that’s worthless in the face of fears.  People get very attached to their fears. Fears can be pillars in some people’s personalities. You have to be careful when discussing fears because people can get very defensive and they may feel that you are belittling their fears, which makes them feel you are belittling them as people.

Let me say that we are not here to belittle your fears. Recognizing that fear is usually irrational does not belittle you as a person. Fears are not to be simply dismissed out of hand. Fears must be recognized and acknowledged. But after you recognize and acknowledge your fear, you must take the next step, which is to also recognize what your fears actually are.

I stumbled on this definition the other day and thought it was awesome: “Fear is an emotional & physiological reaction we feel based on imagining events which have not even happened.” You might want to read that sentence again.

In other words, fear is not who we are, it’s an emotional state we put ourselves in because of our own thoughts. I’m not talking about biological “fight or flight” responses in the face of physical danger—that’s altogether different.  We can choose to have control over our own minds. We can choose not to imagine the worst. Then the emotional fear reaction will not arise.  This is not always an easy thing to do to say the least.  It takes some special training in neuro-linguistic programming to master it.

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Recognizing and acknowledging your fear, and then also recognizing that it’s nothing but the product of your own imagination helps you reach the point of letting go of the fear so that it has no power over you. This is all more easily said than done, of course. It’s difficult to catch yourself in the act of being afraid and tracing its origins back to thoughts you had about events which may never happen.

Recognizing, acknowledging, and seeing your fears for what they are is the first step. You may not catch yourself all the time, but you will be more likely to catch yourself feeling irrational fears more often, and that means you can interrupt your usual habit of behavior (and really, that’s all it is: a habit).

OK, enough psychiatry for today. (Go see a real mental health professional if you feel you have serious problems, etc.). So what are your fears?

1.  I’m afraid that my spouse has been physical with someone other than me.

This has got to be one of the top fears that we hear about in emails that we receive.  Certainly this is not an irrational thought to have.  The trust has been shattered in your relationship and now you don’t know what to believe.  You wonder if you really ever knew your spouse at all.

Linda questions me regularly about this very matter.  In fact, it happened this morning.  She has a hard time believing that my emotional affair with Tanya did not get physical.  We’ve had this same discussion several times.  All I can do to alleviate her fears is to reiterate what I’ve told her and continue to build the trust until one day she will believe me and eliminate that fear from her mind.

2.  I’m afraid my spouse will have another affair in the future.

Surviving one affair is ridiculously difficult.  Having to do so more than once would be enough to drive the victim to the brink of insanity.

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All you can do here is continue to work on yourself, on the communication, establishing boundaries and building trust.  Do the things that are within your power to create a strong, honest and happy marriage.  The rest will hopefully take care of itself.  Learn from the past, but don’t live in it.

3.  I fear my husband is having an affair and will get his affair partner pregnant.

Obviously if something like this happens, there are a host of concerns—number one being the child itself.  There are custody issues, visitation, child support and the overall well-being of the child to be concerned with.

Though having an affair is not a responsible act, you would hope that your spouse (and his partner) would be responsible enough so that an unwanted pregnancy would not occur.

4.  I’m afraid my wife will leave me after I had an affair.

If you are truly remorseful (and have expressed it) and are working at changing, communicating and expressing your love daily to your spouse and doing everything in your power to make your spouse trust you, eventually the pain that he/she is feeling will subside and he/she will trust you enough to love you completely and want to remain in the marriage.

5.  I fear my spouse will leave and I will lose everything that we’ve worked for and lose my children as well.

I can relate to this fear myself—and I was the one in the affair.  In this case however, the fear is that the cheating spouse will leave for his/her affair partner.

Statistics point to the fact that the chances of a relationship between affair partners being successful in the long run are not very good.  Unfortunately, irrational emotions and illusions can be a strong addiction for those involved in affairs, and often result in married men and women leaving their spouses for their affair partners.  Most of the time though, these blissful unions soon turn sour and die a natural death.

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If your spouse has indeed ended his/her contact with the affair partner, then the chances of him/her leaving are not very high.  Assuming that is, you are doing everything required to meet your spouse’s most important needs, etc.  If the affair is still going on, then you have some work ahead of you, but you can still save your marriage.

6.  I’m afraid that my spouse will resume contact and ultimately the affair with the other person.

In an earlier post we discussed the 2-step approach of Willard E. Harley Jr. Ph.D.:  Step 1: Never have contact with the affair partner again, and work to create conditions that make it impossible for them to be in contact.  Step 2: Create a romantic relationship with your spouse so that he/she won’t be so tempted to have an affair in the future.

If you follow this approach, you should have success in eliminating the temptation for the affair to resume.  Dr. Harley does state though that it could take drastic measures such as quitting a job or even moving out of state to accomplish this.  Is that something you and your spouse are prepared to do to save your marriage?

A Final Word…

Once again, thanks to those who were brave enough to offer up their greatest marital affair fears.  If there are additional fears posted to the comments, we will be sure to mention them.  Thanks also for the support that you are offering to each other.  It gives Linda and me some wonderful feelings that this type of interaction is happening, as it is one of the underlying goals of this blog.  If you enjoy a particular post, comment or discussion, please be sure to share it to others through the “Share This” button, or the “Tweet” button so that we can get others to share their point of view as well.

    3 replies to "Marital Affair Fears and How to Overcome Them"

    • Heartbroken

      Doug and Linda – Thanks again to you both for this site. I’ve spent the last ninth months more or less trying to get educated on a topic that I never thought I’d have to deal with in my lifetime. Books, my church pastor, and marriage counselor have all helped me get through much of this, but your blogs this week have been mind altering for me.

      Yesterday I shared the concept of ‘rekindlement’ with my wife as my brain can actually wrap around how that could have happened to her without my getting angry. Starting this evening, I’m going to be spending a full week at home while our children are on spring break and will specifically try to apply your rational approach to fear explained above. I know this is a battle in my head and have actually said that to others in the past, but I see an opportunity now to focus on real feelings this week instead of dwelling on my sadness or fears of what may actually never happen at all. This is a new direction for me and I’d like to follow-up again with you in a week or so to let you know how it goes…positive thoughts and prayers will certainly be appreciated!!!

      • admin

        Heartbroken, Thank you so much for the kind words. We will be thinking about you this week. Enjoy the week with your kids and let us know how it goes!–Doug

    • michael

      Will it start again?
      Ok. So it’s been three months from when I found out. It took two months and an ultimatum for her to stop talking to him. If she really has. She hasn’t taken steps to prevent it. I’ve said before that I don’t know for sure. But I feel it to be true. I hope its true. I need it to be true.
      She gets increasingly mad at me when I display a lack of trust. Mention a past event. Find another hidden thing. I get increasingly uneasy as I start to come to grips with what happened and watch her stand idle by. She tells me each time that I just don’t see what she is doing to get better.
      Maybe that’s the truth. She said that I’ve been blind to her affection. I have seen her show me much more affection than the last year or so. But I saw the same while she was still talking to him for hours a day. And now that she says she has stopped talking to him. The affection is returning to a pre affair level. So this confuses me. Our communication during and immediately after the affair was heightened. And now its back to waiting for the next time we talk. I understand now that we are both headed in the right direction. Some of that will fall off from the amount we had during the affair. She was trying at that point to keep me from leaving. But now she has it made. I didn’t leave and she doesn’t have to try so hard.
      So will I get to a point that I give up and stop showing her the affection she needs. And reopen that door for her. I’ve been told by a friend who cheated on his wife that the second time was easier. And he got better at hiding it and had less reservations about doing it. I’ve learned a lot from him. And I look at what he did and how it took multiple times for him to desire to get better.
      Can I wait for her? How much more has she hid from me? Should I look for more? Will it happen again or worse?

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