These struggles after the emotional affair have been eating me alive for two years.

struggles after the emotional affairBy Linda

In a recent discussion, we asked you what your biggest struggles were after the emotional affair.  I certainly wanted to add my two cents, but I tend to get a little long winded and decided to post it instead.  So…

What has been my biggest struggle(s) after Doug’s emotional affair? 

Firstly, it is trying to put all the memories, the words, and actions that I know are true behind me and not dwell on them every day. 

Secondly, erasing all the illusions and fantasies I have about the affair, about Tanya, the pictures that I have in my mind, and the scenarios of what I thought their relationship was like. 

And the hardest struggle of all is…finding myself again.

These struggles after the emotional affair have been eating me alive for the last two years…  

It has been a battle that has stripped me of much happiness and love.  Finally, I decided I had to make a decision to either let it go or live the rest of my life afraid of love and life.

I had been thinking a lot about the fantasy of the emotional affair and how I have contributed to that fantasy, and have actually kept it alive with my constant questions and insecurities.  I have thought about why I continue to do this and what I can do to break the habit, and to permanently “back off.”

This week, I’m reading a book recommended by one of the readers of this site called “Loving What Is:  Four questions that can change your life,” by Byron Katie.  In the book, the author recommends that you question the things in your life that are causing you so much pain. 

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She tells you to first ask yourself if it is true, and continues with a series of questions until you realize that a lot of things we fear are only in our minds. 

Rebuilding Self Esteem – Don’t Lose Your Self Concept

I started doing this exercise and realized that a lot of the things I am hanging onto are no longer true…  

I don’t need to be afraid of them any longer, and honestly many of them were never true to begin with.  They were illusions that Doug and I had created in our minds.

I also realized there is no room in our lives for Tanya and I have really put a stop to talking and thinking about her.  It is just Doug and I together, doing our best to love each other and enjoy each other and our life together.

The last three weeks Doug had been spending some time out of town for work and consequently I have had some time to myself to really think about things and rediscover who I am. 

I found however, that when he was gone I felt like my old self again.  I was more relaxed and I felt free.  I was really concerned why I was feeling this way, so I thought about what was happening.  I worried that perhaps I wanted to be alone and that I didn’t really love him, etc.

I wanted to be “myself” again…

I came to the conclusion that I loved him very much and missed him terribly, but what I didn’t love and was missing was ME.  I wanted to be “myself” again.  I lost that person two years ago. 

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So I have been working to bring myself back, to love myself again, and to look at my behaviors that I have developed over the last two years and analyze why I am doing them.  Am I acting this way because I want acceptance and love, or am I being true to myself? 

I really don’t know how I came to the place where I am now, but I know that I am almost back to my old self.

Sunday morning Doug kissed me when he was getting out of bed, and I rolled over to look at him, when I looked in his eyes I saw the man I had fell in love with 30 years ago.  I looked at him without pain or disgust.  His emotional affair never entered my mind.  And when he looked at me I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world.  It was a feeling that I had long forgotten. 

We didn’t really say anything after that, but a couple of hours later Doug said that when he looked at me this morning he had never seen me look so beautiful.  I knew exactly what he was talking about, as it was definitely a magical moment.

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    19 replies to "My Struggles After the Emotional Affair"

    • melissa

      Your words brought tears to my eyes and I thought ‘yes, it can be done, look, Linda’s done it’. Funnily enough the book you recommend was also recommended to me by my wonderful massage therapist so I’m going to order it and get reading.

      My husband is away at the moment, and although I find myself dwelling on what’s happened and terribly insecure about the ‘what happeneds’ and the ‘what will happen now?’, I went for a yoga session this morning and a swim and I felt much better. AND, I booked a massage as a treat too. All this may seem pretty self-indulgent but sometimes it’s important to get back in touch with oneself.

      I’ve nearly, very nearly, had that feeling of looking into my husband’s eyes recently and felt free of fear and sadness and disappointment. I’m not quite there yet but I hope I do, like you.

    • Jeffrey Murrah


      It is encouraging to hear of how things have improved. It provides hope and inspiration. I also like hearing how you have not allowed Tonya free rent for occupying space in your head and your heart. When those steps are taken, things change dramatically in the relationship.

      Good Job!

    • Elaine

      I’m so glad you’re reading the book. Since I read it, I’ve asked myself a thousand times, “Is it true?” and “How would I feel if I couldn’t have the thought that’s bothering me” It’s not about trying to not think about something, it’s about questioning your thinking and it makes a world of difference. I also have had that peaceful, happy feeling when my husband is gone and it worried me too, that I’d be happier without him but I think it means I’m completely happy and at peace with myself and I know I would be fine no matter what happens with us. If you haven’t already read “Real Love”, I recommend it highly to deepen your relationships (not just marriage) and find unconditional love in your life and let go of the anger, disappointments and expectations most of us have in our relationships. I have tried so hard this past year to learn from this challenge we all share and I can honestly say I never would have become the person I am today if it hadn’t happened and for that I am grateful. I am proud of the way I’ve grown up, calmed down, stop trying to control everything and everyone, become more patient with people and situations and learned to love myself.
      I try not to look at my husband’s affair as something he did to me. I think it had very little to do with me. He’s confused and in pain and she is a symptom of that confusion and pain. So, while he continues to struggle with who he is, what he wants and how to stop looking for happiness outside of himself. I am secure that I am a strong, loving and content woman that will be patient and supportive of the ones I love and I can love them unconditionally.
      My husband and I are still struggling with his connection to her and I’m sure there will be a point where I no longer choose to be in a marriage with a man who can’t or won’t commit to me but for now I’ve set him free to discover his own path to happiness. If it’s not with me, its not. I will move on and continue to grow and be happy. If it is, then we’ll work together to make that happen and for now I’m just being patient and accepting what is.

      I know for those of still “waiting” for a decision it seems like torture and you get to a point where you feel like any decsion would be better that “waiting” and being in limbo. When I get that feeling, I tell myself I must still have work to do on me and get to it. His life and choices are his business and they only affect me if I let them. The pain I feel from what he’s doing is there because I allow it be painful.
      His choices say nothing about me unless I allow them to in my head and since I know that makes me sad, I remind myself that I love me and nobody else has to, that’s there business and I wouldn’t want someone telling me who I should love.
      Today, do something just for you because you deserve it and it only matters that YOU think you deserve it!

      • Linda

        Elaine, it is funny but I bought “Real Love” last night and haven’t been able to put it down. Many of the things said in the book really hit home and I feel I started incorporating a lot of the ideas two years ago when I found out about the affair. However I realized that I do a lot of the fear induced behaviors because of the affair and I need to stop that. Thank you for recommending both of the books, they have been inspiring and helpful. Linda

        • Janine

          Who is the author of the book, Real Love?

          • Doug

            I believe it’s Greg Baer, MD

      • Kasandra

        What powerful words Elaine!! My husband’s affair says a lot about him and his weakness not me and my strengths. I need to remind myself of this.
        I do have stop allowing his choices to say something about me. He needs to get himself better to see what he has in me and if he doesn’t it is truly his problem and loss not mine.
        I had taken my wedding ring off sometime after Dday and kept it off for about 9 months until I realized one day how much I missed it. My husband gave it back to me and said since I never broke my vow or stopped being a good wife so I should’ve never stopped wearing it.
        (I originally gave it to him in hopes of a romantic reprosal but that would’ve made it about him. This way made it about me which it needed to be.)

        I will look into the book you recommended.

        And Linda, thank you as always for your honesty. I had a real breakdown today and really want liking who I’ve become this last year. Thank you for reminding me that I have the power to return to being myself but only better with this knowledge and experience.

        • Shifting Impressions

          I agree, Elaine’s post (albeit seven years old) is extremely powerful, as is yours. I understand you taking off your wedding ring. After d-day, for a very long time, I no longer felt married ……and this after almost forty years of marriage. I felt as if my very heart was torn in half.

          Almost four years have passed since that fateful day and as time passes I feel more like myself. I too have realized his behavior and poor choices were more about him than about me. But nevertheless his actions put our marriage at risk and broke my heart. We are stil together and making headway but I still get that “not married feeling” every now and again.

          I ordered that book as well.

      • CrossRoads


        Thank you for your thoughts. They were very helpful and gave me plenty to think about. It has been close to 2 years for me since my wife’s EA and I feel very stuck. I get the opportunity to travel with my work and spend time thinking about everything that has happened these past two years. I to have felt more relaxed and comfortable when I am not with my wife and was beginning to think that I am falling out of love with her. We have always done well together managing the family and house cores and duties which may not be good for the marriage.

        Recently in my travels I have met two extremely nice ladies who have made me think twice about being in my current relationship. The feeling they both gave me is something that I have missed dearly from my wife since the EA has consumed our life 2 years ago. My fear is that my wife and I have become better friends and less about best friends and someone who makes your heart bitter when you hear their voice.

        I so bad want to roll over in the morning and look into her eyes and tell her how much I love her and can’t imagine my life with her instead of the pain and disgust I currently have.

        Seems like I have some reading to do. Thanks again!

    • Donna

      Elaine, thank you so much for your words, they have inspired me to do something today just for me because I DESERVE it! I am thinking along the lines of a bath and a book and then climbing into bed to watch a dvd that I hired the other day and have not yet xeen.

      I nhave realised that I do not take time for me, I am just playing the role of mum and wife when my husband is home and that is it. And when I do play the role of wife, it is a caustious wife as I am still fighting the demon of backing off from our relationship to allow my husband the time and space that he needs to work out his own head and the goings on in it.
      I am trying to do what Jeff has said about not allowing the OW free rent for occupying space in my head and my heart. I have have let her sit there for far to long and I need to remove her from that place. I am hoping that by doing that and backing off, this will all help in how my husband starts to be around me.

      I have been listening to Mort Fertels Marriage Fitness and he has some very valuable things to say along the lines of asking NO questions (which I struggle with) as alot of the time they are counter productive and won’t get you anywhere and will only cause you more hurt. Not only this, my husband shuts down when I ask questions, so I am still learning that one.

      My usband is showing me affection, however he says he can’t do it in public because everyone is talking about him.. or so he thinks and he doesn’t want people to judge his progress on if he is seen to be hugging his wife. He has told me that he loves me, hence that is why he has not left.. one of the reasons, it is just not the love that he should have for a wife. Hoping time and space will aloow him to reverse those feelings back to me.

    • Toni

      My H says the same thing. Behind close doors he tells me he loves me and doesn’t know how to get out of the situation. I feel like I have to tell him he needs to make a choice. It’s been 3 months and we’ve gotten closer the last couple of weeks but when I hear him tell her that he won’t be satisfied until he’s married to her and she’s in his life for good with their child (we have no kids) it ripped my heart out even more. I wonder what is this man doing? Why would he tell me how much he misses me when he’s not with me, be initimate with me, and then say those words to her? I may push him right onto her arms when I give him a timeline and it’ll devastating if he moves out but reading those words he sent to her what other option do I have? Am I jumping the gun and still back off?

      • Doug

        Try a little of both. Tell him that you understand his feelings for the OW, but that you cannot go on like this, and that he has to make a choice. It’s either her or you. You hope that it will be you, but if not, you will be fine without him. The only issue is, that you have to prepare yourself for the possibility that he will leave. Get yourself as strong as possible.

    • Dawn

      I just wanted to comment about the mention of being happier or more yourself when you are without your husband. My husband had an intense emotional affair that ended 1 year ago. Lately I have found that when he is not around I am more “light” more myself, content, playful with my 3 children. I thought about this too, and initially it worried me. I thought that maybe I am happier without him. When I thought about it more, the conclusion I came to was that I am not happier without him. I have just learnt, because of all I have gone through with this relationship, that I can be happy on my own. I do not need anyone else to make me happy or feel at peace. This experience has taught me that no matter what happens with this relationship, I can be happy and cope on my own.

      • Linda

        The fact that you are feeling these thoughts and realizations shows that you are strong and can overcome this.

    • christina

      Wow- what a post! I understand completely what Linda is talking about. I found out a month ago about the OW and it has been a struggle since. I am struuggling with everything from: Is it over with them?, Why is he being affectionate to me now?, Is he with me b/c he wants to be or b/c she rejected him?, why did they connect when we couldn’t?, etc. The questions and images flood my mind everyday. I understand the way my mind can build a fantasy of what might have gone on between them. I have started to see a counselor to begin to learn how to deal with all of my emotions and how to think clearly through all of this to make a decision for myself and my happiness. We are spending time together, but I worry if that is a mistake. What if she and he have a plan to get together in a month or so and here I am falling in love with him again? Again is that my mind getting the best of me? Sometimes it is hard to just let my mind go and be in the moment with him without being afraid of what is down the road a few weeks or a few months from now. My hope is that as time goes on we can reconnect and I can begin to let go some of my thoughts and images.

    • Stephanie

      I can totally relate to pretty much everyone’s posts. Thank you all so much for sharing, and believe me when I say I am terribly sorry for all the pain and suffering you are going thru. I have been with mine for coming up on 8 years. He has been having sexual conversations and exchanging pictures via text and online with other women our entire relationship. I just recently caught him AGAIN less than 6 months ago. He swears there was never any actual physical contact, but I do not believe him. My biggest struggle is constantly thinking about what he did, constantly needing reassurance (which he is barely giving me) and my fear of being made a fool of again. I have gone so far as to track his phone, and put cameras up in my house to catch him doing this stuff. He buys burner phones and does it (hence the cameras). He swears he is done, but I have heard that so many times before, I can not digest it. I want to believe him, I really do. But I don’t want to be the fool again. I have thought about doing the same to him that he has done to me, but I doubt that will make me feel any better, probably just worse. I honestly think about what he has done so much that Im feeling like a crazy person. He never wants to touch me, doesn’t show any affection (which he really never has) and is a very emotionally unavailable guy. I honestly believe that he loves me, as crazy as that sounds, I just think he needs constant attention, that one woman’s attention isn’t enough. He grew up watching his dad cheat on his mom constantly, Im thinking its learned behavior. Im absolutely heartbroken.

    • Unsure

      My problem is that there was more than one and he not only had emotional but physical affairs. Told one she was his one and only and would love her forever and always. He had worked with her for quite a few years before they had their affair. She broke it off to stay with her partner. At the time we were separated, but still very connected.
      The next one he actually moved her in with him and when I found out he told me he wanted to stay with her. That fell apart in about two months. We reconciled shortly after. I didn’t know about these other women until after he moved back in and I found all the text messages they sent. After one “rage” he told me he loved the last one more than me, at the time. There are circumstances that keep me from kicking him to the curb. We are in our 60’s for one; and we remodeled our second home for our daughter who is a single mother of a special needs boy. My husband and I love and care for that guy more than anything. It’s what got us back together and keeps him here. He knows i can , and have, lived on my own and was happy and capable of living alone.
      It’s hard not remembering, wondering, and thinking about his sweet texts to “them”. My imagination, dreams, and visuals get the best of me now and again. To make it worse, we live in a small town and I see them around town.
      I just ordered the book. I do have a betrayal support group, sometimes it helps.

    • The winner takes it all

      My advice is to regain your self-esteem, dignity and self-worth as soon as possible by what ever means is at your disposable-books, counselling, support from good friends/family members who know your true worth and can get you to believe in yourself again. You will quickly regain your power in this situation and be able to halt the ambivalence in it’s tracks. In my situation my husband’s 8 year relationship with his affair partner came to a crashing halt as soon as I became aware of it and after a 6 month period of his ambivalence during which time, with the help of an amazing counsellor and equally incredible friends, I cried out my grief, picked myself up off the floor and regained my self-esteem, I made him leave the house. Within 2 months it imploded with her and he asked to come home, to which I agreed. Unfortunately it isn’t a happy ending because although he came back ( 3 years ago) full of remorse and resolve to help get our marriage back on track, he did none of the work and became more and more distant and bound and determined to live life on his own terms, to the virtual exclusion of me. I ended our marriage earlier this year, shortly after we were out one day and he was about to introduce me to someone as his wife when I instinctively cut him off and introduced myself as a friend. That’s what we had become, roommates, not even best friends anymore. I think he was shocked when we spoke a few days later and I asked him for a divorce. It hurt like hell knowing he chose me, only to have a roof over his head and the ability to portray himself as a family man and he agreed it was pretty cruel. But I had already started to live my own life because he ws shutting me out of his, so the transition to divorcee wasn’t so difficult. I have great friends, a great relationship with my adult kids, I go to work everyday with a terrific group of co-workers and socialize with them outside of work, joined a couple of groups, so life is ok. Am I sad my marriage is over? Of course, he used to be a really great guy, but infidelity changed him profoundly, rocked his identity, significantly impacted his relationship with our kids, and I don’t think he has ever got over all of that. I tried hard, I was patient and compassionate whilst he went through his “affair withdrawal depression”, we went to counselling and I tried hard to connect with him on many levels, but as the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink! I think in some ways he still blames me for everything, but I know differently. Anyway all this is to say for a long time I thought being married to him defined me, but it doesn’t. I am my own person with my own identity and I am ok with being ME. If he can’t love me, that’s his problem, not mine. And as for HER? Pff, I don’t give her any mind-time, except that I really feel sorry for her. She is SO screwed up, she spent the best part of her 30’s with an unavailable man many years her senior, in this fantasy world they had both created, but here she is approachng her mid-forties with no relationship, no children (that she desperately wanted) and her self-esteem in the toilet. Who has come out the best in all of this mess? Yes, ME. And all of YOU betrayed spouses if you will just let yourself see that.

    • Jitsulady

      I am coming up on one year of him telling me it was a physical affair , after 7 months of full out lying to me.
      I struggle every day knowing he chose to screw up our lives for a Cheap ass skank he met on line. Risking everything we ever built together just for sex.
      He is going to S.A therapist ,ecommended by Doug a .several months ago.
      Of course childhood truma made his choices in life not the best ones
      Somewhere a long the line you have to know right from wrong.
      It was not a mistake. Mistakes are one and done learn from it.
      It was a deliberate choice , going on line and prowling for someone to text dirty to and get off.
      His choices lead to a full out f fest for 19 months, driving long distances to see her.
      I am waiting for a full disclosure and then I want a polygraph
      I want truth for a clean foundation for a new marriage. Or nada.
      I deserve this and more….

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