Our crazy two weeks is winding down, but it’s still crazy enough for us to do another post rerun!
This particular post, A Cheater’s Mistakes After the Emotional Affair, was written by Doug in April of 2011.
We’ve included the entire post, plus we added a few additional comments that we felt were especially worthwhile.
Please share your mistakes (or your spouse’s mistakes) after the affair was discovered in the comment section below this article.
A Cheater’s Mistakes After the Emotional Affair
Today we spent a few hours doing some interviews with relationship coaches Otto and Susie Collins and infidelity experts Gary and Mona Shriver that will be a part of the package for our soon-to-be-released book on rebuilding trust after an affair, and I was overwhelmed by the fantastic information that we discussed.
During each interview we touched on what the cheating spouse could do to help in the trust building process, and Linda and I thought it would be a good idea for me to touch on some of the mistakes I made after the emotional affair that hindered this process.
Obviously, I made blaring mistakes all along the way before, during and after the affair, but some of the biggest blunders were made with respect to reestablishing trust in our relationship. The most important foundation in any marriage.
My Biggest Mistakes After the Emotional Affair
I’m sure I made additional mistakes than those listed here, but at least this is a start:
Continued lying. No question this is a biggie. Just after the affair was discovered I continued to lie about my relationship with Tanya. Until I stopped the lying Linda could never trust me, and our relationship’s foundation could not be reconstructed.
Only divulging information in bits and pieces. I think this was a defense mechanism on my part that hurt our trust building. As I became more aware of my feelings, the story of the affair changed causing confusion and misunderstanding on Linda’s part.
Thinking that saying “You can trust me” was enough. I had to show Linda that I deserved her trust, both with my words and with my actions. Until she saw that I was acting in a loving and trusting manner, there was no way she could have complete trust in me.
Being defensive about Linda’s need for understanding why. Linda’s need to understand why the affair happened overshadowed her need to know most of the affair details. I was too dumb to know that she needed this information to understand where our relationship went wrong, so she could try to fix it, along with it being a way to help her rebuild the trust she lost in herself.
Not educating myself about affairs and affair relationships. It wasn’t until much further down the road that I opened up to reading and educating myself about infidelity. Just after the affair was discovered, I was too much in the “fog” to even consider it. Just another way that I could have shown I was deserving of trust by my actions and effort.
Trying to rush Linda’s process. I wanted her to heal on my time, not hers. Big mistake. All the aspects of healing – forgiveness, trust, etc. are controlled by the betrayed spouse’s watch, not the cheater’s. It’s our responsibility to support and respect that timeframe and do what we need to do to move the process forward.
Not being totally transparent. This not only includes keeping cell phone passwords secret but also keeping my true emotions and feelings to myself. Transparency is more than not lying or being secretive. It is opening yourself completely to your partner.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned after the emotional affair is how to really look within myself and analyze my feelings and why I do the things I do (or did). I guess this is another exercise in that. Thankfully, I was able to figure this out and right the ship in time so that our relationship could move forward.
Here are a few reader comments to note…
Bingo – we have a winner. DW has made every one of these mistakes since D-Day (2+ months ago). On the “You can trust me” mistake, you can add “When are you going to be done with this? ” to the mix. DW gave me that line just a few weeks after D-Day. She just wanted to bury the whole EA – like it was spilled milk, no big deal.
Same problem here. Any hint of me not trusting him is asking for an angry outburst from him. He still lies to me sometimes, refuses to answer me sometimes, and says we shouldn’t have to talk about it anymore. And yet he expects trust! I think he’s doing two things: trying to bury his guilt by not thinking about it anymore, and trying to regain power in our marriage.
I think the power and control in affair recovery should be addressed. I believe that during the affair the power to control is just as exciting as the affair itself. They are doing whatever they want to do without anyone intervening and telling them what they should and should not do. When the affair is revealed all of that comes crashing down. Many times they try to hold onto the control/power by refusing to give up the affair but eventually they have to give it up along with their freedom. (surrendering their phone records, etc.)
I think in some respect they try to maintain that control by becoming angry when questioned or only giving up the information that they feel comfortable disclosing. I also feel that the blame and making the affair partner appear better than they are is also a means of control/power. By making the betrayed spouse feel bad about themselves or their ability to be a good partner gives them the advantage and the ability to control the situation. Of course this is all speculation on my part, however I feel that it is something that could spark some discussion. Linda
My H gets angry when I hint that I don’t trust him (and I feel I am at fault here because it’s usually just vague hints and I find it hard to come out with the words ‘I don’t trust you when you go to X or do Y’ but mainly because I am scared of his reaction). He wants things brushed under the carpet as if his EA had never existed.
Linda is right, this is very much about guilt but only the CS can address his/her guilt and many (mostly men) do not seem to be capable of this. It is also, as Linda says, about control.
I am waiting and waiting and waiting (probably for ever) to hear him say that he realises now how stupid he has been, how he has put our marriage at risk and how he will watch out in future not to repeat his cheating behaviour and to learn to look in rather than out. What I have had from him is an admission that he was ‘probably infatuated’ with the OW (but did not realise it at the time, how possible is this??), that he is aware of the pain it caused but that he got caught in a pattern of lying (which he never, it seems, attempted to stop) and now let’s move on, everything’s gonna be OK.
A couple years after this post was written we greatly expanded on this post by showing the cheater how they can move beyond their mistakes by acknowledging up to 24 tasks that they need to perform in order to help their spouse heal from their affair. You can learn more about these tasks here: http://after-the-affair.org/info-page/