Open Discussion: How Important is Knowing Why?

Happy Wednesday!

One of the first questions we ask when we found out our spouse has cheated on us is “Why?” It’s a question that probably eats most of all at the betrayed spouse as they try to wrap their minds around it all.

We’ve done a lot of reading on infidelity and there are two different points of view on this. One says that understanding why it happened is important for rebuilding the marriage and safeguarding against future betrayal. Another says the “why” will probably never really be known and is not that important.

What do you think… How Important is knowing Why?

As always, please reply to each other in the comments. Each person leaving a comment is not an isolated incident. Many folks find the comments very helpful. Also, don’t forget to utilize the forum!

Thanks again!

Doug & Linda

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22 Responses to Open Discussion: How Important is Knowing Why?

  1. Duane June 30, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    The why is important in understanding how to guard against it happening again. Also to understand how completely invalid are almost all of the wayward spouses reasons for dealing with those whys by having an affair.

    I have yet to get a satisfactory answer from my wife. It started with a lot of what I wasn’t doing, then became what he offered her, then it was opportunity and weakness, now finally we’ve started to address how she deals (or doesn’t deal) with her own self-esteem issues. We have a long way to go, but until a spouse digs deep to understand that they alone are responsible for their decision to have an affair, then not much progress is going to be made toward lasting reconciliation.

  2. Last2know July 1, 2010 at 8:14 am #

    After everything we have been through the “why” is not as important to me anymore. I know my H had his insecurity and I am sure the OW had hers. That was their problem, not mine. I now know what I need to do differently and my H is communicating. The why? Well the literature says it all, co-workers of the opposite sex, lunches and happy hours (as a group), my husband (52) enjoying the attention of a women 15yrs his junior who validated him and their mutual hatred towards their boss. Everything was in line for the “perfect storm”. So it happened, I accept that it happened and now I am recovering. It will be 10 months July 5th since DDay. We are happier now than ever. Still not one day goes by that I don’t think about it. The pain is slowly (very slowly) getting better.

  3. Jenny July 1, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

    I’m beginning to think I may never get the complete answer to “why”. I really don’t think it was about me. From what I have been able to gather he has been going through a mid life crisis of sorts. It made him feel younger and good to experience that infatuation you have at the beginning of a relationship with someone again. The woman he had the EA with was going through a divorce and personal issues. She confided in him and made him feel needed, flattered him with compliments and then confessed she was in love with him. I think this brought an excitement to his life that a wife, three kids, mortgage, car payments and boring job didn’t. I think she was in many ways what I’m not. I’m emotionally strong. I love my husband very much and depend on him for friendship, love and encouragement, but we are equals in our relationship. I’m happy to say that I can hold my own in a debate and match wits with him on a regular basis. It is one of the things I’ve always treasured about our relationship. I think in his relationship with her he felt emotionally needed, but not responsible. Does that make sense?

  4. jay July 1, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    Why? I think there are so many different answers to the question why. I don’t think any answer justifies any kind of an affair but I do think we need to look at all the whys in our own unique relationships. I am beginning to think that when people are together long enough they stop being friends, and that is the biggest answer to the question why. They start to take each other and everything they have for granted. We all have insecurities, we all need to be validated we all need to feel loved. When I really look at my relationship with my husband I can see all the things that were right. The nice house, the successful job, good kids, good colleges, gosh from the outside we were the perfect family. But I sometimes feel that we were so busy doing all the right things that we stopped doing things for us as a couple. We put our needs behind everything else and we started to neglect us. I don’t take responsibility for his bad decision and I know it will always hurt but I decided last night to write my husband a promissary note and ask for one in return. It’s my way of committing myself back to US. Maybe he had an EA to fulfill his needs and I threw myself more and more into my work and my children to fulfill mine, but we had a responsiblity to each other that we neglected, so my promissary note goes like this:

    Dear H:

    I want you to be my best friend again and I accept responsiblity for the things that I could have done and I would like you to accept yours, so with that being said here is a short list ( which I will add to as I think of things) of what I will do to commit myself back to us:

    1) I want to hold your hand more than by blackberry.No one in my office will die if they can’t reach me, but our relationship could die if you and I can’t reach each other.
    2) It doesn’t matter if the house is messy or the laundry isn’t done, I’d rather go for a walk together or enjoy a cup of tea with you. The laundry will certianly wait for us.
    3) We don’t always have to buy things for the house or the family, we can spend some money to get away for a weekend and just enjoy being together.
    4) Dinner can wait half an hour or more if you have had a bad day and just need a ear to listen to you. I am sure we will not starve to death.
    5) I want to know when your sad, overwhelmed or just don’t know what your feeling and I won’t try to fix it. You can let me know if you would like my help.
    6)I want to be your best friend again too. I don’t get annoyed with my friends when they need to vent or need help or encouragement and I want to do that for you too.
    7)I want to smile when you walk through the door and enjoy your company and not discuss 11 million things about bills, laundry, car repairs, college essays, the SAT’s, your office issues or mine. There is plenty of time for that.

    These are just a few things I can think of, what are the things you would like to change?

    Love,
    Jay

    Well that is my start. They are not apologies but just my feelings.I don’t think I did anything wrong and I always thought I was doing all the right things but as my mother would say’ “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

    • Doug July 1, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

      Jay, That’s great stuff. We saw many of the same issues in our “previous” relationship, and we made many of the same changes in the way we act with each other. Thanks so much for contributing this.

  5. Carol July 4, 2010 at 6:36 am #

    After 14 years together 11 married, with quite a bumpy ride behind us, thinking we were on the right path now – it happened! My husband has had an affair – the why? He is working far away from home in an awful place with few home comforts – one can work out that he found friendship, attention, comfort and a very active sexual relationship to fill the huge gap. I understand the why. What I don’t understand, is why he is telling me it is over, when I KNOW that they are still in love with each other. He has resigned his job, and is coming home. I have told him that I am not ready for him to come home, that he has to first be 100% sure that it is over between them. When I tell him that I know they are still in love with each other, he remains silent. He does not deny it. It seems to me he is expecting to come home, I must put this all behind me, we should carry on like before..and yet I have the sword of Damacles hanging over my head, that at any time, when she beckons, he will be back with her. He admits to still having coffee and meals with her, and being involved with her on a business level. Having read all of your comments and advice, I can only assume that this is not good enough. He should cut all ties completely?
    So…I don’t think the affair is over, and I am going to stand firm – when he comes back to this country, he will have to find somewhere else to stay, find a job, and court me from the start, having ENDED the relationship with her completely, having cut all ties and contact with her completely. My biggest obstacle is that he is still lying to me, and as long as that continues, we are not even in the starting blocks to renewing or rehabilitating our marriage.

  6. Karen July 7, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Carol:
    My husband agreed to stop all contact with his EA but I found phone records to prove otherwise shortly thereafter. After very angrily confronting him and putting him through the inquisition of exactly what each phone call and text said and why (several times), I then had to work through my rage (still working). I do believe that the EA “drug” is so strong that it is difficult for husbands to stop cold turkey. So I took
    steps to stop it: blocked phone numbers and unidentified callers, changed email addresses and cell phone numbers; monitor phone records going forward. And I keep asking constantly (a tad bit less each week going forward from D-day) Foolproof? No. Trustbuilding? No. But it helps
    me. Of course, my husband never objected to any of my
    steps, which was helpful.

    You deserve your husband’s complete commitment, and I support you in standing firm. When he makes his decision, be ready (books, tapes, online blog reading) if he wants to commit to you fully to reinvent your marriage, take ownership of where you contributed to its shortcomings, and go slowly and take one day at a time. Your husband must be repentant and willing to be completely transparent, and you must be willing to completely forgive and put your marriage first. Easily said; not so easy to do. But from researching and reading and listening to others, I gain strength and know it can be done.

    • Carol July 8, 2010 at 8:58 am #

      Karen, I just feel that perhaps I should give up. Perhaps I should just leave it be. I don’t seem to have the energy for this anymore. I can’t face the thought that he still has feelings for her, I feel totally rejected, and I feel totally worthless. Perhaps it would be better if I just left him to it. If it does not work out with her, I am sure he will find someone else. I know this sounds incredibly negative, but I just don’t have what it takes anymore. I have forgiven, but am I expected to live in a relationship as the 2nd choice? I just don’t think I can do it.

      • Michael July 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

        The word choice hits a nerve with me. My wife only a month or so ago told me that this was the second time she chose me.
        Maybe I took it wrong, maybe she meant well, but all I could think was she was at a point that she was ready to go either way. It got that far that she had to make a conscious choice to remain with me.
        So do I feel that I was the easier choice and she just caved to what everyone was telling her. Well I go back to what she told a friend who said ” as long as your happy”. She replied, “its not easy but I’m trying to do the right thing”. Its sounds nice. But at the same time it sound like it wasn’t what she really wanted to do.
        So when I hear the word choice. It makes me feel like its not what you really want to do in the first place.
        In what I am doing and why I am here. I have no choice. Its what I want.

        • Doug July 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

          Michael, I guess since she made the choice to stay with you, you need to make the best of it and try to create a relationship where if given a choice again, she will choose to stay with you because she wants to and she loves you.

        • Karen July 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

          Michael – Sorry to disagree, but you do indeed have a choice. I felt the same way you did – I had no choice but to forgive my husband’s EA – I was trapped. But I’ve discovered I’m really not. I can do things for myself and establish a plan and boundaries that I can and will enforce with my husband. It’s powerful to study and find out you do have a choice in your marriage. And I do have a choice to separate if need be – that is my last choice, but I do have that choice. Am I strong enough to do that if it comes to that? I’m working on that. I urge you to work on yourself also and not focus so much on your wife’s words and actions. Take good care of yourself – you deserve it.

      • Karen July 8, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

        Carol,
        Let me assure you you are NOT worthless – just betrayed, hurt and angry. From reading everything I can get my hands on, I don’t think you can forgive your husband for his affair until the issue of your marriage is resolved.
        I applaud you for realizing you have to forgive no matter what the outcome as it only hurts you not to, but I think it’s way too early to say you’ve forgiven. One sign of
        forgiveness is the hurt is mostly gone, and I don’t think that’s true for you, even though you understand the why
        of the affair.

        You say you know your husband is lying to you and still in love with the OW. He did quit his job though and is coming home, right? That to me is a tacit admission that he knows he has done wrong, no?? That maybe he wants to reinvent your marriage??

        I had a terrible day yesterday as I reviewed phone records and realized the depth of my husband’s two-year EA – I let him have it when I went home. This morning I thanked him for letting me spew at him. We’re 3-weeks post D-Day, so I’m taking one day at a time. Two steps forward, one step back – okay, maybe 5 steps back yesterday!!

        Can you and your husband sit down and have a very calm talk? I have been journaling each day at work and then
        when necessary, I ask my husband for a private chat about
        my journal, and he listens and answers (although the answers never satisfy me for some reason).

        I also thought of making my husband move out, but since I am the breadwinner in the family, that would hurt me $$$ so I decided to deal with it by pulling down all our pictures together in the house, putting them all away, reading every book, article, blog I can, and journaling. I guess I’m saying start to take care of yourself and find comfort where you can. Find a good counselor for you if your husband won’t go. Make a plan and execute it.
        You can do this. Take care.

        • carol July 9, 2010 at 5:15 am #

          Ah Karen
          Well I thought he resigned to come home, but in fact he has applied for a job with the same company that she works for. Now this is a complicated and convoluted situation – finances are a huge issue, and I do understand that working far away from home is necessary for him to rectify his financial situation. What I don’t get is why he said he was resigning to come home, when in fact he is waiting to hear about this new job. It seems that perhaps he had to resign before he could apply for the new job? Anyway…if he does come home it will only be for 10 days in between jobs. I just feel that it is not about me or our marriage at all. I have never felt so despondant and hopeless in my life. I don’t see a chance of this working out. He is totally focussed on her and being near her. It sounded good to say he was resigning to come home, when in actual fact I think there were other motives. I don’t know if I CAN do this.

          • Karen July 9, 2010 at 11:33 am #

            Carol:
            Seems like your husband is, as I tell my husband, trying to have his cake and eat it too: stay close to this woman and rectify the finances and still keep his marriage. I’ve read conflicting advice on what to do in this instance. I guess it depends on whether you want to stay married to your husband. Have you read all the posts on this blog? I don’t have anything new to add other than to encourage you that you CAN either (a) tell him he has to choose – one or the other. While you want to stay married, you deserve all his attention (and you do); (b) separate from him for a while, let him know why, and let him experience not having his marriage readily available whenever he comes home; (c) some other choice.

            Once you decide, then start working on yourself. You can’t force him to change, but you can start working on healing yourself, making yourself stronger, preparing a plan on what to do for your future – you deserve a great one. Believe me, I’m doing the same thing right now, and I’m no different than you. While I feel my husband is working on our marriage, as am I, I have no guarantees it will continue, and I know it’s going to be very rough going for a while.

            Do you have some good friends? Please seek them out and confide in them and let them encourage and support you. I have a few really great ones that are helping me so much. Do you have a pastor or someone who can counsel you? I have a strong faith, and that is helping me very much also. Please take care.

  7. carol July 9, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    Thank you Karen for your kind words and insight. Yes I do have very good friends and family, and a Pastor and church counsellors, who are all immensely supportive and encouraging. I am also seeing a psychologist. I have read all of the posts on this blog as well, and it helps so much to see that my situation is not unique and that there are so many people out there going through the same pain and trauma. My heart goes out to all of you, as I know the pain you are going through. One day at a time, baby steps is all I can do right now. I put my foot down today when I was told that I am making it worse because I doubt my H!!! How much worse can it be than it already is. So ….Life is a roller coaster, and I am going to ride it. I am tired of waiting. I will pick myself up and carry on, and if somewhere on that road he comes along with an attitude that I can cope with, I will do all I can to work together to build that marriage we always dreamed of. Until that time….I will set the boundaries to protect myself. Stay strong all you wonderful people!

  8. Tiffany April 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    This is still so fresh for me since I thought the EA was over only to find out two days ago that it has in fact been a PA since August and as far as I know may still be going on. I asked him to leave. I need space and so does he. I am having a problem though because I can’t decide if I want to know every single detail or I want to try to heal without knowing everything. I ask because today I found out that they had been together in my living room while my kids slept upstairs while I was out of town. I was at work when I realized this and felt like someone kicked me in the guts. So do I want to know everything now so that I can begin healing and not be surprised in the future, or do I want to stop asking questions to avoid the hurt?

  9. em April 14, 2011 at 6:05 am #

    2006 my H of 22 years declared that he no longer wanted to be married to me. He then went on to admit that he’d had a 2 year affair about 8 years before that. Also another very short affair. These were PAs. He has very patiently answered my many requests for details. Sometimes I think I’d like to surprise these other women with what I know about them! We are still struggling with much of our life together. The day to day stuff has always been pretty much ok. Very little fighting etc.
    The main problem for me, with knowing so much, is that his affairs have become very invasive in our relationship and life. Some places that we used to go to don’t appeal to me so much now etc. I think about the affairs a lot. He doesn’t seem to. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know so much. I think it may have made me more suspicious. It certainly has ruined some of the memories of our life together. I’m a bit of a terrier though and have a need to pull out everything there is to know.

  10. Joe April 15, 2018 at 8:00 am #

    Is this comment section still current? It seems it was from 6 years ago. Anyone there?

    • Doug April 15, 2018 at 10:11 am #

      You’re certainly welcome to leave a comment, Joe.

  11. Amy June 17, 2018 at 3:37 am #

    I have read most of what has been written here and it all seems similar for the most part. But, what I wish I could find out is, why am I to believe that I am to settle for trying to rekindle with my husband after his affair?
    I have been with him for 26+years, married for 16. 2 beautiful children that will be devastated to have their parents split. But, it has been since January that I exposed the affair and my knowledge it to him. 6 months have passed and he says he’s staying with me because”we’re married, Amy”. And “I’m here for the kids”. Well, we’ve always been married, the kids were always there too during all of this… So, why stay now?
    Additionally, he’s still in love with the OW. he has told me so. When I ask him”if you love her so much, and you were originally going to leave me for her… Why are you here now?”
    I get the same dead answers…”because I’m married”. He said he was sorry but, with little remorse. He’s always asking ME what I want??
    But, won’t say what he wants??? If I ask him questions about the affair he turns the conversation back onto me and what problems I have and says” if you want me to love you again, you got to stop this or I’m leaving”!
    … As if he’s doing me a favor???!!!
    I DO WANT ALL THE DETAILS.. Probably more than most people do… But, I have to know what I’m dealing with? How can the person who said vows to me, in front of others and God that he not only would “let no one put asunder”?… But, promise to love me for better or worse then not only abandon me in my worst but, kick me when I’m down and spit on me, essentially??
    I need to know what I’m working for and what I’m doing for my children now??
    He said he wants to stay with. “us”… But, he’s so cold and stand – offish with me. He has said on multiple occasions”I just don’t love you Amy”…..I don’t want my children hurt but, he had already scarified their future without a care and this slut of a girlfriend who has 3 kids of her own, is happy to help and gain him for her own!!!
    I don’t believe a lot of what has been told to me…I believe there is more that he’s keeping. For instance, of her broke it off cold turkey with her back in January from the start, then what’s keeping him so in love??…. He claims he didn’t have sex but, also has been lying to save face with me over the past few months as I discovered and he confessed…. Like a leaky faucet!!
    I told him I wanted it all.. Every last detail as if it was like a huge bandaid being ripped off… Give it all to me!!… But, he refuses…..I got some, but not all… That’s for sure.
    Additionally, I feel as long as he’s letting things from me about the affair, there’s a reason. I believe that reason is not for the betterment of me nor the relationship. I have said, as long as you don’t tell me what I want and need to know, then your holding onto something with her…. Keeping it special between the two of you for keeps…. Of you give it to me then you release it and about it was wrong and regretful. Keeping it is not moving forward… It’s letting it special for you…. And her…. And I need to know why????

  12. Amy June 17, 2018 at 3:47 am #

    I have read most of what has been written here and it all seems similar for the most part. But, what I wish I could find out is, why am I to believe that I am to settle for trying to rekindle with my husband after his affair?
    I have been with him for 26+years, married for 16. 2 beautiful children that will be devastated to have their parents split. But, it has been since January that I exposed the affair and my knowledge it to him. 6 months have passed and he says he’s staying with me because”we’re married, Amy”. And “I’m here for the kids”. Well, we’ve always been married, the kids were always there too during all of this… So, why stay now?
    Additionally, he’s still in love with the OW. he has told me so. When I ask him”if you love her so much, and you were originally going to leave me for her… Why are you here now?”
    I get the same dead answers…”because I’m married”. He said he was sorry but, with little remorse. He’s always asking ME what I want??
    But, won’t say what he wants??? If I ask him questions about the affair he turns the conversation back onto me and what problems I have and says” if you want me to love you again, you got to stop this or I’m leaving”!
    … As if he’s doing me a favor???!!!
    I DO WANT ALL THE DETAILS.. Probably more than most people do… But, I have to know what I’m dealing with? How can the person who said vows to me, in front of others and God that he not only would “let no one put asunder”?… But, promise to love me for better or worse then not only abandon me in my worst but, kick me when I’m down and spit on me, essentially??
    I need to know what I’m working for and what I’m doing for my children now??
    He said he wants to stay with. “us”… But, he’s so cold and stand – offish with me. He has said on multiple occasions”I just don’t love you Amy”…..I don’t want my children hurt but, he had already scarified their future without a care and this slut of a girlfriend who has 3 kids of her own, is happy to help and gain him for her own!!!
    I don’t believe a lot of what has been told to me…I believe there is more that he’s keeping. For instance, of her broke it off cold turkey with her back in January from the start, then what’s keeping him so in love??…. He claims he didn’t have sex but, also has been lying to save face with me over the past few months as I discovered and he confessed…. Like a leaky faucet!!
    I told him I wanted it all.. Every last detail as if it was like a huge bandaid being ripped off… Give it all to me!!… But, he refuses…..I got some, but not all… That’s for sure.
    Additionally, I feel as long as he’s keeping things from me about the affair, ….there’s a reason. I believe that reason is not for the betterment of me nor the relationship. I have said, as long as you don’t tell me what I want and need to know, then your holding onto something with her…. Keeping it special between the two of you for keeps…. If you give it to me then you release it and admit it was wrong and regretful. Keeping it is not moving forward… It’s letting it special for you…. And her…. And I need to know why????
    I just don’t know what else to say or do to get ahead now…. It all falls flat at my own feet… And then he just gets angry yells and threatens to leave me and then says horrible stuff to me about hating my guts…. Then next day says he wants to work it out with me?????
    So confused and angry right now!!!

    • Shifting Impressions June 17, 2018 at 1:03 pm #

      Amy
      I am so sorry you are going through this. It’s pretty common for the CS to dribble the truth in bits an pieces….something that is extremely devastating for the BS.

      Are you seeing a counselor or getting any help? If you spend some time reading on this site you find that the behavior of the CS after D-day is often fairly cruel as well. Your husband sounds like he is still deep in the affair fog.

      I believe that a BS has to dig deep inside themselves and figure out what their bottom line is. What is it what you really want? What are you willing to put up with? What is a deal breaker?

      In my situation I told my husband that I loved him but I only wanted him to stay in the marriage because he wanted to be with me….because he still loved me. I deserve to be with someone that loves me and if that was not the case he should leave. I told him it would break my heart should he decide to leave but that I would survive. Anything less was just not an option.

      What is often forgotten is that it should be the CS trying to win our love back not the other way around.

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