The Real Reasons Cheaters Don’t Want to Talk About Their Affair

reasons cheaters don’t want to talk about their affair

I wanted to piggy-back just a bit off Sarah P’s excellent post from last week and provide you with some more reasons cheaters don’t want to talk about their affair and/or provide the betrayed person with much – if any details.

By Doug

After all the secrecy and lying that usually comes with having an affair, very few unfaithful persons tell the whole truth when just beginning to answer their spouse’s questions.  If they actually choose to talk about the affair at all.

If they do, information usually comes out in dribs and drabs (trickle truth).  And unfortunately, it seems that very few people who learn of their partner’s affairs ever learn absolutely everything.

What usually happens is that an unfaithful person tells as little as possible – only what they feel they absolutely have to tell – and nothing more.

This is understandable in that virtually nobody – on any issue – wants to voluntarily disclose things that they know will create bad reactions.  It’s normal human survival.

Of course, there are also other reasons for avoiding affair related discussions, which I will get to here in a minute.

My spouse doesn’t always want to continue to talk about it. To him it’s over and done and in the past where he’d like to leave it because he doesn’t want to hurt me again.  But for the betrayed there’s no such thing as “being hurt again.”  The hurt is always there and will always be there.  It’s how we choose to live with it that makes it better or worse.”

Over the course of my mentoring experience, absolutely one of the most prevalent issues that people want me to address is their unfaithful spouse not talking about the affair.  (Second only to how to get the CS to end their affair.) That’s because the person who has had an affair would like nothing more than to sweep it under the rug and move on without talking about it.

Meanwhile, the betrayed person has an intense need to know so that they can make some kind of sense out of what has happened.

The needs of the two people are very different, and the reasons for their needs are different as well.

So, what are the real reasons cheaters don’t want to talk about their affair?

Believe me, I’ve heard some interesting and disheartening stories over the years.  Many of which really hit hard as to what the betrayed person has to put up with.

This post is going to be fairly short and sweet.  No research.  Just stuff that I’ve heard from other unfaithful persons, from lots of betrayed spouses, and from some of my own experiences.

Here we go…The real reasons cheaters don’t want to talk about their affair.  (Please add to the list based on your own experiences in the comment section below.)

  • Sticking to the code of silence – Never tell. If questioned…Deny, deny, deny.  If caught…Don’t say anything that might incriminate you.
  • Feeling guilt, embarrassment and shame.
  • Lack of remorse.
  • Protecting their partner’s feelings. They don’t want to hurt them anymore than they already have.
  • Protecting the affair partner.
  • To avoid a confrontation.
  • To avoid potential loss – their marriage, their kids, their home, their finances, their social standing, etc.
  • To not have their lies be uncovered or mixed up. It’s hard to keep all the lies straight!
  • Because he/she is a coward.
  • They want to keep conducting the affair and/or have additional affairs.
  • To avoid further discovery of affair details and facts.
  • To avoid triggering their spouse.
  • The affair details may be foggy after several months or years.
  • The unfaithful person has successfully compartmentalized and filed the details away to avoid dealing with them.
  • D-day can be a sense of relief for the cheater (a huge weight off their shoulders), so now they feel that since it’s out in the open, it’s time to just move on. “No need to dwell on the past, now is there?”
  • The mindset that the more the betrayed knows, the less likely they are willing to forgive the unfaithful person and reconcile the marriage.
  • He or she doesn’t feel safe or trust the betrayed enough to divulge information for fear of further punishment or other painful consequences.
  • To try and remain in/achieve a “one up” position over their mate. In other words, to be the one in control.
  • Unwilling or unable to take responsibility for his or her actions.
  • To avoid arguments, angry outbursts and other unpleasantness.
  • Doesn’t want to be labeled as a “cheater.”
  • They don’t respond well if they feel like they’re are being interrogated. (Fight or flight instincts).
  • The unfaithful is honoring some sort of pact they had with the affair partner to not divulge the truth and/or details.
  • The CS has a long history of lying and avoidance. It’s second nature to deny and deflect.
  • In the case of an emotional affair, the cheater doesn’t believe that it was indeed an affair. “So, what’s there to talk about? – It was nothing! We’re just friends.”
  • It’s simply easier for them to not discuss their affair, their feelings, their shortcomings.
  • They’ve already checked out of the marriage. What’s the point of talking about it?
  • He or she is just being an asshole. (Very common, unfortunately) It’s as simple as that!

 

having an argument

 

Here is an excerpt from “Inside the Mind of the Unfaithful” that further solidifies some of these points:

 

Why is it so hard for the unfaithful to talk about the affair?

This has to be one of the biggest challenges we run up against.  The unfaithful just do not want to talk about things. They don’t want to talk about the affair, “It’s over, let’s move on, let’s get on with our life and I don’t want to talk about it.”

So first of all, let’s address what the mindset is there and why the unfaithful wants to do that and then in a bit we will touch on if there’s anything the betrayed spouse can do to maybe motivate their spouse to talk and open up.

When I was going through this period, my mindset was that I wanted to avoid confrontation along with any possible consequences, arguments, yelling, anger, etc. You name it and I wanted to avoid it.  I just didn’t want to deal with all that at first. In addition, there were so many lies and omissions that I was guilty of so I had to ensure that those lies and possibly others were never exposed. That didn’t go too well, to say the least as they eventually all came to light.

Let’s face it…these discussions are not pleasant. People tend to avoid unpleasant things – especially cheaters. Their fight or flight response is on high alert and if talking about the affair gives off the smell of pain or unpleasantness, then they clam up.

Another thing that we see is that once the affair has come to light, in many cheater’s minds it is a huge weight off of their back and they feel like, “Whew! It’s finally over. Now I can get on with my life.” The problem though is that the betrayed is just now finding everything out and it’s like a bomb was dropped on them. The pain is very new for them. They need to talk about the affair in order to understand what the heck happened so they can process the pain and get a handle of their confusion.

Tim says…

Especially at the beginning when my wife requested to have conversation about it, I was very resistant. Shame was a huge reason for me, which especially in men tends to be quite a trigger. I didn’t want to talk about my failure. I didn’t want to be reminded of those things. I’d rather just say ‘I’m sorry’ and be able to move on.

What I’ve learned is that’s exactly what I needed. I needed to learn the vulnerability of talking about those areas of brokenness and need in my life. For me, that’s where healing started. Instead of avoiding that stuff, I needed to be with it, sit with it, have conversations about it. But it took me a while to get there. I will say this, once I got to the place where I felt like healing had really taken over my life, that resistance to the conversation really broke down in me. Not that I was excited to talk about my affair, but I realized that that was something that was necessary for my children, for my wife and so it changed.

Another possible reason for not wanting to talk about things is that the unfaithful may be trying to fight for the marriage and there may be things – especially details – that they don’t want to discuss for fear of hurting their spouse even further. Some of the details are going to be hurtful so they’d rather just keep quiet about it – not even lie about it because they don’t want to cause any more pain. The weird thing about that is that the unfaithful have to be willing to be honest so that the betrayed can forgive and learn to trust them again. But that typically doesn’t make any sense in the cheater’s mind at the time.

Many cheaters also don’t want to talk about the affair and “just move on” because they probably haven’t been very truthful up until that point. They may be telling their spouse that it was a 3-month long affair which entailed having sex just 4 times. When in reality the affair lasted two years and they had sex 44 times.

So, talking more about things could bring up more of what they’ve been lying about. They’re thinking, “I’ve confessed some things and for now, my spouse has accepted it, so the more I talk about it, the greater amount of lies I have to remember, and that’s going to be difficult.” So sometimes that’s why the unfaithful don’t want to talk about it. But most times it’s because they don’t want to look at their own shame and they don’t know how to support their spouse when the pain seems to overwhelm them. They can’t seem to just say something and the betrayed snaps out of it. So, by not talking, they avoid feeling less capable or inadequate and so the alternative then is to just move on.

 

Ok.  There you have it. 

Now, most of us understand why the betrayed spouse needs to talk about the affair and needs to know details.  Sarah did a great job of explaining them, btw.  If you’re a betrayed spouse, you have your own reasons for why you need to talk about the affair, and whatever they may be, they are more than enough reason for your unfaithful spouse to comply.  

However, if you are an unfaithful spouse, perhaps you don’t fully understand the reasons why your spouse needs to know – or even how to talk honestly about your affair.  If that is the case, here are a couple of posts that might be helpful for you:

 

 

Finally,  here is another excerpt from “Inside the Mind of the Unfaithful” where Tim and I address some ideas on how to get the unfaithful person to talk about the affair:

 

So how can the betrayed motivate the cheater to talk about the affair in an honest fashion? 

Remember that there can be no one-size fits all answer here and a lot can depend on the circumstances of a couple’s unique story at the time; how invested the betrayed partner is in that moment, if they’re working on the marriage or if they’re still in the confused state or whatever.

Since most cheaters tend to avoid talking about the affair in an honest fashion (if at all) because of the various reasons we just discussed, it might then make sense to encourage betrayed spouses to figure out what it might mean in their relationship if they were to move toward their unfaithful spouse lovingly and honestly.

Now that’s hard for a person who has been betrayed to hear. And a lot of times they can’t even do that because they have to sit back and lick their wounds, so if someone is really in a state or trauma, unsure of whether they want to stay or go, or if they’re in the first few months of recovery, it may not make sense.

The intent here is to move toward the unfaithful spouse lovingly and honestly and not in an attempt to change them, not to convince them to change their mind, but just out of a sense of strength to say, “I want our marriage. I’m willing to invest in this. I’m willing to do what needs to be done. There are things I need from you, and I invite you to the process.” And let them make that choice without feeling the pressure of it.

I can tell you from experience that Linda eventually got to the point where she was able to approach me in this fashion and it worked. I felt the hostility fade away and a safe environment for honest, open communication enter our relationship. Really, if the recovery process is such that you want to be able to heal the relationship, then trying to create a safe place for the conversation to happen is going to be important.

Now I realize that once an affair is discovered, both partners can become somewhat out of control and there will be an incredible amount of intense emotion going on. What’s going to happen is going to happen.  But as they settle down from that and start to wonder, “What do we do now?” It can be beneficial if the betrayed spouse can try to control the way they regulate the questions.

When it’s just a constant barrage of questions and questions and questions, it tires the cheater out, it tires everybody out. Thus, it can be a helpful thing if they can come to a point when they are more intentional and specific about how much they ask and when they ask it.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking… “You’ve got to be kidding me. My spouse had an affair and now I need to be all nicey-nice when trying to get him/her to talk about it? Not a chance!”  I understand that train of thought. I really do. But I can tell you that in nine out of ten instances, creating a safe environment for honest and open communication will be more effective than being combative and full of anger.

If there’s a willingness to work on the marriage, to always affirm, “Listen, I want to move toward forgiveness and I’m willing to move toward that but in order for me to understand it I need you to be invested in it and I need to understand what has gone on here. You’ve got it all figured out. You lived it. It’s a big blur to me. I need you to be willing to be honest enough and vulnerable enough to be honest with me about this. And I’m telling you, I’m willing to work through it. I can’t think of anything right now that I’m not willing to forgive but you’re going to have to just trust me whether I can or not. But in order for me to forgive it I’ve got to understand it. In order for me to trust you again, I’ve got to know that you’re willing to risk being honest with me.” And that’s a message for a lot of the betrayed spouses they’re going to have to hear a number of times before they’re willing to risk stepping toward that. But it’s important to happen.

The reality is, when a person acts unfaithfully, it’s a selfish act. It’s really an illogical behavior, and so trying to sort out an illogical behavior and trying to express it in a logical way does take a little bit of time. So creating the environment that says, “Okay. Well, it doesn’t make sense, but help me to understand that.” instead of saying, “That can’t be. No, that’s not true. That’s impossible. There is no way that could have happened that way.” Thus, it would be helpful for a spirit of understanding to be present as opposed to trying to prove why something happened or didn’t happen.

So you want to be able to create an environment that allows for the unfaithful party to sort through and be able to share what they were sharing and what was going through their head at the time. Quite likely they will need to say it a few times, because most often what they say is partial truth or it’s not fully clear. It doesn’t make sense until they’ve had a chance to talk about it.

It took Linda and me a long time to learn good communication and how we could talk through things effectively. It was mostly my issues and my problems but Linda also had to learn what my hot buttons were and how to talk to me in a way that would encourage me to open up and talk about things and not be fearful for any kind of consequences or battles or anything like that.

Tim says… 

One of the things that became helpful with my wife was if I told her something happened – and of course she remembered every single word I said, how I said it and when I said it, and I couldn’t remember what I said five minutes after I said it

– and then when she would asked me the same question for the hundredth time and I gave her a different answer, she said, “Well, but you said this these times before.” One of the things that helped me is that I could add to what I had said earlier without it necessarily being completely contradictory. It was just, in addition to what I already said previously. If the environment can be safe enough to make those kinds of comments and additions, that goes a long way in the recovery process for the person who’s been unfaithful, because I needed to also have a chance to talk about what I did and how I felt, because, frankly, I didn’t really fully understand all what I did initially. 

Many unfaithful people will eventually talk about the situation and may even be the party to bring it up. But they’re only going to do this once or maybe twice. However, they don’t want to keep bringing it up over and over as there is still the feeling that what they say is going to be used against them in some form or fashion.

As Linda asked me the same questions many times, she got to where she would preface her question with something like, “I know you’ve told me this before and I’m not trying to trap you, but help me to better understand…” This way the cheater won’t feel as though they have to protect themselves when answering the questions.

I know all of this might not seem fair to many of the betrayed out there as it might make more sense to some to just say “Look, you betrayed me, now you’re going to talk to me about this, or else!” And in some respects, this is true. But in practice, if there is not a safe environment in the eyes of the cheater, they probably won’t open up.

Something else I wanted to mention too is that it can be really important for the betrayed spouse to be able to take care of themselves. That is, to find some support, somebody that they can vent to and who has their back, because the unfaithful person often can’t (or won’t) listen to every single thing that the betrayed spouse has to say. The communication isn’t always going to be conducive to recovery or healing because some of the things said are going to be harmful, some of the things said are going to be misinterpreted, and some of the things said are going to be misrepresented. All this does is add to the frustrations, resentments and anger. So it might be a good idea to be able to bounce your thoughts off of a supportive individual – whether a friend, family member or therapist – until the unfaithful gets his/her act together.

 

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Inside the Mind of the Unfaithful
Understanding Why Cheaters Do What They Do

Doug and Tim share their experiences as ex-wayward spouses and answer the top 11 burning questions betrayed spouses typically have for the cheater.

 

 

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60 Responses to The Real Reasons Cheaters Don’t Want to Talk About Their Affair

  1. TryingHard October 24, 2017 at 9:56 am #

    This is fantastic Doug. staying calm and using the right words are quite impossible in early discovery. But everything you and Tim suggested is right on providing the BS can reach this calmer state eventually. Too bad BSs dint know any of this until it’s almist too late and the die has already been cast. so many of us were quite literally caught off guard on DDay.

    • Doug October 24, 2017 at 10:35 am #

      Oh, I agree with you 100% TH. It is very hard for most to stay calm at the beginning especially. In fact, I think it might be best to do the opposite at first…Let it out. Get angry as hell. Let the cheater have it. They deserve it. In probably 99% of the cases, what Tim and I spoke of isn’t feasible until a little time has passed and emotions have died down somewhat.

  2. Joey October 24, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

    When I was trying to recover with my ex, I definitely had to learn how to be calm and ask my questions in a respectful and safe manner. It took some practice. When I felt angry and irrational, I would journal or go for a run and let out my frustrations. That helped for sure to have a release.

    I just think it’s so ironic that the betrayed has to create a safe environment for the unfaithful when the unfaithful didn’t care at all about our safety. Whether it was unprotected sex, having the AP in your home, confiding in the AP about relationship secrets, bad-mouthing us to their AP, continuing the affair, lying to our face everyday during the affair and after. The unfaithful gives the AP a front row seat to our lives, our marriages, our vulnerabilities, and we are completely unaware that a stranger is judging us for being “bad” partners. We don’t even get a chance to defend ourselves because they only have the side of the unfaithful. The unfaithful puts our family and financial futures in jeopardy without even consulting us, but yes, let me create a safe environment for the AP.

    Ugh – it is a great post and the reasons make sense, but sometimes it is hard to stomach after everything the unfaithful puts us through. I guess that is where forgiveness comes in. Still working through that phase with my ex. Need to let go fully. Just thankful for this site – it makes me happy that there are so many people here who do have unfaithful spouses who get it and put in the work. and I admire all the betrayed spouses who are strong and courageous enough to keep walking forward.

    • Doug October 24, 2017 at 12:20 pm #

      Hey Joey! You bring up some great points and you’ll get no arguments from me, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, for most people, if you want them to talk, empathize, express their feelings, etc., they can’t feel as though they are being attacked – even though they may completely deserve it.

  3. TryingHard October 24, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

    Joey–I admire you for for standing up for your beliefs and values. I think whether we stay or leave the marriage after betrayal there are many life lessons to be learned. Actually I think this post applies to many relationships that one wants to improve, not just marital relationships. I’ve taken what I’ve learned through my therapists, all of them :), and have applied them to other relationships. One thing that always sticks with me is, do I want to be right or do I want a relationship? Sometimes we have to be right and move on, other times maybe not.

    But I hear you what you say. Not fair, not fair at all 🙁

  4. Hopeful October 24, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

    I agree it all seems unfair but in the end I made a decision that I wanted to see progress and move our marriage forward and give it my all. What my husband decided was up to him. At first after dday it is upsetting and highly emotional. But with time I was clear to my husband that I did not want a marriage that was fake or him just trying to do right.

    For us I asked to have a weekly meeting. It worked so well for us. That way we were not talking about it all the time. When we did talk our time was more focused. I would journal daily and look back through my notes to see what I wanted to bring up. That way I was not going off on tangents. This helped me walk away from the coversations feeling better. My husband has to work on listening, not being defensive and not trying to fix everything. I had to work on controlling my emotions. Did I want to always do that, no. But In the end I wanted to give my full effort a see if our marriage made sense to salvage. Overall we are much more attentive of our marriage and each other. We have much stronger communication skills individually and as a couple. This I feel is so critical since there is always something to work on in any relationship.

  5. Shifting Impressions October 24, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

    Everything you say…..so true!!! This is the one audio “Inside the Mind of the Unfaithful” that my husband was willing to listen to.

    I agree, the BS is usually too traumatized right after D-day to take the “understanding approach”. Probably impossible.

    So unfair….that the BS has to take this approach….but then there is nothing fair about infidelity. I believe, this is where you have to dig really deep….find your inner strength. Staying calm and loving when all you really want to do is scream like a crazy person and smack the hell out your partner…..takes strength.

  6. Nearly Normal October 24, 2017 at 5:57 pm #

    I really struggle with this. There are times that I want to ask questions, but it’s hard. Shortly after D-Day, my wife stopped giving details and refused MC. At that point it became ingrained in my (understandably traumatized) brain that she was not going to be on my side or help with the healing.

    Now, years later, she has done a lot of things to show that she is dedicated to me and the marriage. There are hiccups to be sure, but mostly good. Yet she has shown no desire to discuss details.

    I should probably get over the ingrained idea that she will not help. I really should try to broach the subject of details. But there are other issues. She might ask why I am bringing it up after all these years, and likely she would feel some form of resentment for renewal of a subject that she thinks is over and done with. Also, after the years since the affair, how many details are lost, and how much help would those few details be to me? Do I even really want details? Is it worth the effort of a difficult conversation when I may get little out of it, or worse, destabilize the progress we have made?

    She was motivated by her desire to protect her AP to avoid more disclosure in MC. She was also probably motivated by not wanting to relive shame and embarrassment and pain.

    I’m not sure I’m asking a question. Just a little venting, I suppose.

    • Puzzled October 25, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

      Nearly Normal: your story is so eerily similar to mine that I could have written those exact words. I get you and know those feelings. Sucks to be us on some days…

      • Nearly Normal October 25, 2017 at 4:22 pm #

        Puzzled,

        You betcha. Sometimes when i get in my self-pity phases, I get to feeling that my story is different than everybody else’s. But that’s not really true. Thanks for reminding me of that.

        Hang in there.

    • TheFirstWife October 25, 2017 at 2:05 pm #

      Puzzled. I think any cheating spouse who thinks “it is over” is fooling themselves.

      I just wonder how they do not understand that.

      • Puzzled October 25, 2017 at 9:26 pm #

        My guess on the “it’s over” is simply self serving and “ostrich” mentality. If the CS acts like it’s over and everything is great then they can stick their head in the sand and pretend like it’s true. If you avoid it long enough, it goes away (or they think this). My wife does this well. We are better. We are a couple again. But she has no idea of the storm that is still swirling around us. She has never addressed the why or the who in the affair. She effed up. She’s apologized. She pretends it never happened. Life is good, right? At least in her mind it is.

        • Rose October 27, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

          Exactly the same here. Except the big problem here is that his third and last EA was with a cousin he hadnt communicated with for 40 years. Oh yes, she is a sick psychopath who tried to visit us from the other side of the country and plied him with porno stories about what she was going to do to him. He enjoyed it a lot while I was working two jobs and recuperating from surgery. Though there has been no contact for a year, she is still in touch with his mom, her aunt. She is a CONSTANT presence, and he has stopped answering questions because, you know, NONE of it was his fault.

    • Hopeful October 25, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

      That is so hard. After dday they are guarded with information for whatever reason. Then as time heals it is hard to bring up these questions. My husband ended his affairs 15 months before dday. Even so he could not remember what year one of his two affairs started. I mean he knew it was one of three years. He know she that the woman had come around for 3-4 years begging for his phone number and asking friends for his number.

      In the end I thojcht long and hard about if I really wanted to know more details. And then at a certain point after I asked so many questions in similar but different ways he had zero idea. For him his affairs were an escape and something he wanted to forget. As he said he did not celebrate or want to highlight or mark any date as an anniversary or something to remember. So in the end I focused on what happened inside him that allowed him to do what he did and to work on our relationship. Of course this has been a topic but I gave up on more details. My therapist was a big support and felt that my direction I was taking this made sense. And ultimately in the end I realized there would never be enough details to allow any of his decisions and behaviors to make sense.

      • Nearly Normal October 25, 2017 at 4:31 pm #

        Hopeful,

        Some days I am like you and I can just let it go. I think you’re way ahead of me in the category of acceptance. It’s hard for me because there are big blocks of info missing, like was there another emotional affair? I’m pretty sure there was at least one. That’s a lot to just let go.

        It would be nice to know that my wife trusts me enough to reveal the details. Is that the wrong way to think about it? Maybe.

        • Hopeful October 30, 2017 at 4:00 pm #

          Nearly Normal,

          I really took a while to work through what I needed to know. I am the type of person who would like a time and date stamp record of each contact and time my husband was with these ow. So that is an extreme and I recognize it. In the end I figured out what I needed. I realized there was no way I was going to get all the details I thought would be beneficial and in the end probably not good. Everything he did was horrible and wrong. I think it was Esther Perel in one of her books or elsewhere that said instead of asking about the details ask the why and what it did for you. In the end at least for my husband it could have been any woman. He could care less about them as individuals. So I wanted to know more about the how did they communicate, how often, when… that was a clue into frequency and how he spoke with them. A lot came out with these type of questions. In the end no amount of details was going to make me better. I chose to focus on telling him what I needed and if he was not reaching that level of behavior I was firm with him. My husband at first would not tell me who these women were. Well in the end I figured it out since he was so unsophisticated. He thought he was protecting me. That would have been a must disclose piece of information though. I think in the end you have to figure out what is right for you. I am not saying every day is easy but things are so much better. Again from Esther Perel I look at it as she says we have many marriages and will it be with one person or many over your years. For us it is a totally new marriage.

  7. TheFirstWife October 24, 2017 at 9:54 pm #

    I took the calm and loving approach after both DDay1 and DDay2.

    Patient. Loving. Supportive. Kind.

    I got lies and hiding of answers etc.

    Yes the A ended at DDay2.

    But I think I would have gotten the same outcome if I yelled and acted like a crazy person or did what I did and remained calm and understanding.

    When this came back to bite him was after years of reconciliation and my anger and rage exploded over something else. And I admitted I resented the fact that I always showed him I was willing to forgive and try to understand and be compassionate. And yet he still continued to lie to me, avoid the topic and be a coward.

    And how I waited for 4 years for him to come and lovingly explain to me what happened. And he never did.

    I accept he is a coward.

  8. Exercisegrace October 25, 2017 at 12:05 am #

    In the immediate aftermath of the affair, I was incapable of being calm. I yelled, raged, sobbed, name-called etc. I didnt (and still don’t) regret it. He asked for a second chance, he got what came along with me processing the emotions to be able to give him one.

    Later on, I was able to discuss things more calmly. But I reached a point where I said to him and our MC that I was unwilling to continue the marriage unless I had the complete truth. When asked why it mattered, I answered that I could not forgive what I did not know. For ME, forgiveness isn’t a blanket statement or some kind of hall pass. I told them both I wanted to schedule a double session, and that I would be arriving with a prepared list of questions. I also stated this would end my frequent interrogation sessions at home, lol. My questions would be answered fully and truthfully or we would transition our counseling from reconciliation to separation and then divorce. It really shook him up, and it was no idle threat. For the most part, my imagination was FAR worse than the truth. It really put an end to some of the tortuous mind movies.

    • TheFirstWife October 25, 2017 at 8:20 am #

      Hi EG

      Haven’t heard from you in awhile. Glad to see you are still here with us.

      I think you made a great point that your imagination of the A was much worse than the reality.

      When I was told they were only together 8 times – over a year – that was much much less than I imagined.

      If the cheater could only understand why we need details – it may make their life easier – I think they may be forthcoming.

      I just don’t understand it.

  9. TryingHard October 25, 2017 at 9:05 am #

    Hi Doug— I just read your newsletter with regards how to approach taking about the affair. You stated Gottman and his observance of how women in particular should approach any conversation with a softer approach. I find this curious and totally sociologically stereotypical of how women are expected to behave.

    I agree that all BS would get more info if the subject is broached in a calmer manner resulting in the goal of getting information. But I can’t imagine that a female cheater would be any less or more forthcoming or less likely to answer question if the betrayed male spouse didn’t approach calmly.

    Lol you men are such delicate little flowers and we women really have to walk a fine line with you guys it seems. I can only compare this to the last election. My husband had the most visceral reaction to the “tone” in the female candidates voice but never seemed disturbed by the “tone” in male candidates voices.

    Never the less I agree with everything you said and thank Gid most women know how to use their femininity to get what we want 😊. You men should realize lots of women are very good at this. Especially sociopathic OWs and potential OWs. I see it all the time.

    • Doug October 25, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

      Hey TH, I don’t believe that the research was meant to be stereotypical, it just that it happened to be aimed at women. In fact, in the email it’s stated: “Even though Gottman’s research was aimed at women, this advice could be helpful to either gender who is bringing up a sensitive issue.” But I do agree that if we men realized just how good (sociopathic) women can be at getting what they want, there’d probably be a lot less infidelity.

  10. TryingHard October 25, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

    Hi Hopeful-If it makes you feel any better I asked when my h’s first affair was years ago. He couldn’t remember. Well was it before or after the birth of our first son. Couldn’t remember. Before or after the birth of our second son. Couldn’t remember. Before or after her divorce. Couldn’t remember.

    Are you kidding me??? Those are some pretty important timelines by which one can measure. Nope, didn’t ring a bell.

    I agree, eventually you get to a point where banging your head against the wall is not longer fun! I gave up too and in the end, really what difference does it make. I believe to do honestly forget but sometimes I wonder if my h has early onset dementia!!!! Seriously 🙂

    • Rose October 28, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

      Same here. He can remember the most ridiculous trivia but not her last name. Must be early Alz…as if.

    • Hopeful October 30, 2017 at 4:02 pm #

      TH, Yes so maddening. I can ask him too about major vacations that he loved and he has zero idea when it was. He has a terrible memory from growing up. Very vague. I think that must say something about him and I think that he was so selfish. Since dday he is not necessarily on top of an exact date like dday but he has a much better recall. I think he is less selfish and more aware of others.

  11. Nearly Normal October 25, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

    I think there is a kind of amnesia that develops after being in the affair fog for a long time. Essentially, your brain is doped up pretty continuously. That’s got to affect long term memory. If you talk to a drug addict, there are whole periods of their life that are a jumbled confusion to them.

    Although, even if that’s true, I think it’s more common that they simply do not want to remember.

  12. TryingHard October 25, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

    Doug–I am corrected. Just re-read.

    HA not only sociopathic women 🙂 “Now suga why don’t you be a big ole strong man and change that light bulb cause little ole me just doesn’t know howwwww” insert “chest shake”

    BWAHAHAHAHA

    • Nearly Normal October 25, 2017 at 6:20 pm #

      Darn,

      I was just getting used to the idea of being a “delicate little flower.”

      • TryingHard October 25, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

        Awww NN. You can still be our delicate little flower 😊🌺

        • Nearly Normal October 26, 2017 at 11:13 am #

          Gosh, thanks!

    • Doug October 26, 2017 at 5:48 am #

      Ain’t that the truth! I just changed all the light bulbs in our house! 😉

      • TryingHard October 26, 2017 at 8:15 am #

        Haha!! And I’m sure you did it very very well and linda is very grateful. Now did you check those silly ole smoke detector batteries cause I know I’ll be darned if a girl can figure out how to do it 😊 and the gutters…. my h cleaned our gutters and put gutter guards up. He’s my hero!!

  13. Puzzled October 26, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    Just wanted to share an interesting thing that happened last night. My wife & I were watching TV and talking (and enjoying a beer/wine). I asked her if our 2nd daughter had talked to her about something (it’s nothing huge, just something that my wife, my daughter, and I had discussed and decided against it for the time being). She said no. I said, well, she went ahead with it and my wife was pretty mad at her. She said, “I”m calling her right now and asking why she’d lie!”. I calmly said, “maybe step back and slow down on this. You don’t have much footing with her. She is the one who uncovered your affair. You don’t hold much in the integrity department with her. The affair really shook her trust in you.”

    It all just kind of spilled out before I could even think. My wife looked dumbfounded, maybe even angry. I told her that I didn’t mean to hurt her with what I said but it’s the truth. I really thought she would just get off the couch and storm off to bed. But she looked at me and said, “you’re right. I’m the one who effed up and had the affair”.

    Maybe, just maybe, she’s finally starting to get it.

    • TheFirstWife October 26, 2017 at 10:35 am #

      Well that is refreshing!!!!

      How long past DDay are you?

      My H said those words right after but I don’t think he really understood the pain and impact of his choices until years later.

      Now he gets it – I don’t think he really did the first year after the A ended at DDay2.

    • Nearly Normal October 26, 2017 at 11:11 am #

      Interesting. Hope she is getting it.

    • Hopeful October 30, 2017 at 4:05 pm #

      That is great for her to react that way. That is major progress and insight. My husband used to be so defensive even pre affair. But he is much better now. I try to be respectful much like you were with her but also just put it out there. I am not going to tip toe around his actions. Good for you!

  14. Puzzled October 26, 2017 at 11:58 am #

    TFW: it’s a little over 2 years since I caught her texting her AP. The interesting thing is she has never said “I had an affair” in that time until last night. And I don’t think she fully understood the impact it’s had on our two older kids. They’re both bright college aged girls with a strong faith. But until I really put it out there, I think she felt they were insulated from her affair.
    A year ago our night would have ended with both of us hurt and angry. Last night we went to bed together as usual. There was no lingering defensiveness or coldness from talking about her affair. What a difference!

    • TheFirstWife October 26, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

      👏🏻👏🏻👍🏻👍🏻

    • Shifting Impressions October 26, 2017 at 7:08 pm #

      Puzzled
      I would say that is progress, for sure. It’s breakthroughs like the one you described you that keeps one going.

      • Hopeful October 30, 2017 at 4:07 pm #

        SI, I agree with you. It is that little light at the end of the tunnel to keep you pushing along and moving forward.

  15. Howdy Dissappin October 27, 2017 at 1:17 pm #

    I cheated on my wife and, upon returning to her, I answered all her questions but one. She wanted to know where I slept with the OW. Rather than be specific, I chose general answers. There’s a good reason. My wife cheated on me many years ago. When we agreed to try reconciling, I asked her where she slept with the OM. I regretted asking. She answered honestly. I drove past that place every commute to and from work. Every time, for a very long time, I spun up images of what took place there. I chose not to divulge any exact location because I believed I knew better, through experience, that she would regret hearing that info. Once she heard it, she couldn’t unhear it. I feel strongly that not all info should be disseminated, but I feel just as strongly that any withheld info must be supported with a reason and lovingly explained.

    • TheFirstWife October 27, 2017 at 9:25 pm #

      Thank you for that honest answer. It sheds some light in why the cheating spouse won’t or doesn’t answer some questions.

      I sometimes wonder if the non-response is b/c the answer is that bad. It could really destroy whatever is left of the M. I guess sometimes that is the truth – it is that bad.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Hopeful October 30, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

      Are you able to provide her that explanation as to why you are not disclosing the information? I think part of it is the unknown and what our imaginations do with the unknown. I remember asking my husband if either woman had been in our home or met our kids. He looked at me like I was the craziest person he knew or had horns growing out of my head. But for me how was I to know. I thought the fact that he did what he did meant he was capable of anything.

    • Sarah P. October 30, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

      Hello Howdy Dissappin,

      You mentioned your wife cheated on you first. Just a curiosity– did your subconscious mind believe that it might be okay if one day you cheated to even the score?

      This is something I have always wondered about– not about you and your wife specifically but in cases where one spouse cheats first and then the other spouse cheats years later.

      Thank you for your honesty and I do agree with your idea of disseminating some ideas and not others as long as there is a valid reason and a loving explanation.

      Thanks,
      Sarah

      • Shifting Impressions October 30, 2017 at 6:06 pm #

        Sarah….I have wondered the same thing myself.

    • Shifting Impressions October 30, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

      Howdy Dissappin
      I’m not sure why….and I seem to be the only one here…but the ”lovingly explained” thing does not resonate with me. It sounds somewhat patronizing. Shouldn’t it be the BS’s right to decide what information they need?

      If she asked….she had a reason that she wanted to know. I believe you could share your experience of what “knowing that information” did for you but the decision should be hers…in my opinion.

      • TryingHard October 30, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

        SI— nope I agree with you. I say give her the info. She can do with it as she sees fit. Yes every time I drive by certain hotels I’m triggered. Matter of fact even driving by a different hotel in a different state with the same name triggers me. But I wanted to know. It’s part of the info I needed.

        I say tell her the hotel. Let the chips fall where they may.

  16. Becky October 28, 2017 at 2:37 am #

    Since I lived my marriage openly honestly I’m the kind who hates when anyone beats around the bush( comes from dealing with doctors being wishy washyabout treatments with our kids who have/had cystic fibrosis yes I’m the Mama bear who fought for my kids lives) I happen to be the one who will dig that nasty bush up and talk real down and dirty honestly. My husband being the lying cheater lived his life never being honest because honesty made people avoid him or in his words people wanted to control him when he refused to be honest. I can say I didn’t give him any safe soft comfy place to hide his lies which he did til the end. Honestly the lies and deliberate deception created such an intense hatred and rage in me at his constant lying and covering with more lies I just went on a truth hunt from the lowlifes he used . His lies could’ve filled a small town library to overflowing. And the most painful part was after his suicide the sewer rats climbed up to be the ones to tell the truth. I haven’t had a safe soft comfy place to ever deal with his garbage and now all I see is he was a sick twisted abuser. I don’t hate him but the sad thing is his lies murdered my love lie by lie now I’ve accepted my marriage was never a real marriage just his excuse to be a coward .

    • Seeingthe light October 30, 2017 at 11:42 am #

      As with you, I have been a fan/devotee of total honesty my whole life as I was raised that way. You screw up, you own up to it and take the consequences, no lies or excuses. My X-H knew this before we even got serious. We went so far as to set boundaries as this site and Dr. Huizenga’s sites says is a cure for infidelity and to help avoid someone doing it again. I felt this was common sense at the time. This was to no avail. He set/kept no boundaries, had an affair and denied it for years and has lied about so much over the years I don’t think he can help himself or wants to. Once it all came out, not only did he have an affair and lie about it, he made up things that made him sound like not only a good man and husband, but one that went above and beyond what a good husband would do. I gave him the benefit of the doubt so much that it now makes me ill knowing the reality of his true character (More accurately lack of any redeeming character) and our life together. People will be what they are and there is no changing them, I honestly believe that my X-H is one of those people and is actually proud of himself being able to put things over on everyone while doing what he wants to, yet avoiding any consequences. Fortunately I now see him for what he is and I’m now heading in the opposite direction.

      • TheFirstWife October 30, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

        I am sorry you had to live a life/marriage filled with lies and dishonesty.

        I guess your XH is of the Geirge Costanza mindset “it’s not a lie if you believe it”.

        People will tell themselves whatever they have to – to look at themselves without feeling bad for lying and cheating.

        Which is why so many cheaters will say it is the betrayed spouse ‘s fault they became a cheater. I heard so many of those lobbed at me. But it never stuck b/c cheating is a choice.

        So is owning your feelings and discussing things like an adult with your spouse. Big my H came to me and said he was unhappy I doubt I could have done much about it BUT I certainly would have tried.

        But to choose to cheat is cowardly behavior. And so is lying. And so is denial of issues or problems. You cannot bury your head in the sand for everything.

        I hope you have fought your way out of this mess b/c it must be hard to make a M or relationship work with a habitual liar.

        That would drive me crazy.

        I guess his self esteem issues usexlying as a way to not have to face them.

    • Sarah P. October 30, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

      Becky,

      Glad to see that you are back.

      I remember when you mentioned your husband’s suicide and what led up to it. My heart still goes out to you and what you and your family had to go through.

      I wanted to say something about your marriage never being a real marriage. After years of either experiencing infidelity or hearing other’s stories, I am not sure there is such a thing as a real marriage. I am saying this to console you. You definitely had a real marriage and a real family because of your actions and because of you being the one who fought for your children’s health and for your marriage. What your husband did does not diminish all of the honesty, the heart, and the soul that you put into your marriage. Do not allow him to take that from you too. From your actions, you most definitely had a real marriage and I am sure what could have been a great marriage if he had chosen to step up to the plate.

      And that goes for all betrayed spouses here. No matter what your wayward spouses did, you all had real and true marriages. Don’t allow your spouse to leave slime all over past, good memories. I am sure everyone here saw the original Ghostbusters from the 80’s. The character Slimer went and slimed everything he came into contact with. This was because it was the nature of Slimer to do so. But, anyone who was unfortunate enough to get ‘slimed’ was able to take a shower and be good as new. Anytime there is an affair, all of those formerly good memories have suddenly been “slimed” and drip with oozing, green gunk. Part of recovery is showering off those memories and cleaning them up. Because if you were having fun at the time and all felt good, then realize it was your genuine state of mind at the time.

      I am not saying this is easy to do. It takes years and many never succeed.

      Becky, allow yourself to keep the good memories as good because you were experiencing them as good at that moment. And you are an excellent mom too– probably the one who held the family together despite cystic fibrosis and other challenges. Your good actions and good deeds cannot be taken from you regardless of the actions of your H.

      Many blessings, Becky. You are in my prayers.

      Sarah

      • Becky November 4, 2017 at 8:33 am #

        Thank you Sarah ! I gave my husband a real marriage what he gave me and left tot me was his fantasy that as long as he hid what he did and lied to cover his sick choices then I would never know his life was like a house of cards lots of empty wasted time on making the outside everyone saw yet the inside was ugly nasty and empty of anything of value( love honesty faithfulness depth of emotions) .ive discovered being the widow of a sex addict and a narcopath has shown me how hard he worked to hide his true self from being known was his lifetime problem . Yes I agree with the slime ( it would be restoring to just take a shower and wash the slime off unfortunately it’s more like an onion peeling the rotten layers away the best part is the fresh air is great when I finally threw the nasty rotten mess in the trash . I have survived so much and his neglect and abandoning me to deal with the tough hard parts to life have created a strong confidant woman who is still capable of loving deeply withy whole heart. Yesterday was 2 years since our son died and just as during his life (I was a single parent who just happened to be married to the Houdini of escaping adult responsibilities I have made it and I’m still living loving and being the best I can be no excuses .

  17. Rose November 4, 2017 at 11:05 am #

    You want to talk avoidance? Last night I got up the nerve to say we needed to talk. The first time in 2 years. I said it nicely, that I knew we both had a lot on our plates but that I needed help with some things. His response? He slept in the guest room.. Guess I got my answer.

    • TryingHard November 4, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

      Aww Deborah I’m so sorry. But I must say those four words could be the four most dreaded words strung together in the English language. Just hearing We NeedTo Talk makes my stomach jump. My h used that on DDay. Immediately I knew life as I was living it would never be the same. Since then he’s used it as “we need to talk. What do you want for dinner?” Ugh that mans trying to kill me I swear!!!

      Maybe try approaching him not in the middle of the night? Or even when going to bed. Escaping to the guest bedroom is an easy getaway when your timing is that. Does that make sense?

      • Rose November 4, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

        It was at dinner, not near bedtime or the middle of the night. Just his typical.

        • TryingHard November 4, 2017 at 5:04 pm #

          Rose— I agree. Many cheaters NEVER want to talk about the affair no matter what time. This would be a deal breaker for me. It was in fact. I made it very clear you talk or I walk!

  18. Christina November 22, 2017 at 7:45 am #

    I am 2 years on from D Day and my fog has begun to clear. My partner has told so many lies, but unfortunatley Liar’s get found out!! (A pissed off woman does better research than MI5) His affair commenced in the Autum of 2015 (this he completely denies, despite me seeing lots of facebook posts of flirting etc, she had also attended a musical event in July 2015, I later found lots of photographs of her. His Dad died in the October of the same year, his OW even had the cheek to turn up at his Dad’s wake, on her own!!!. I took one look at her and knew there was something going on, whoever said listen to your gut, boy were they right!!! She was a hairdresser, who had form for breaking up other people’s relationships. What hurts me the most, is that his Dad knew about the relationship (this was confirmed to me by a close friend of his farthers, who said his Dad had been very worried about his son for obvious reasons. My partner is a musician and we have lived together for 14 years and have an Autistic child. I have been the main breadwinner for all of this time, ran a home and cared for our son. My partner is also Bi-Polar (I even got him diagnosed) People do not think about the consequences of having an affair, my family will not speak to my partner and his family won’t speak to me. I have recently lost my Dad and it is his funeral. My partner will not be there and this has brought back all the bad memories from his Dad’s funeral. I am aware people with Bi-Polar are pre-disposed to affairs and I have tried to be understanding and move on. I even spoke to the OW, he had of course told her and several of our friends lots of lies to justify his behavior. This backfired on him because people knew the truth and his reputation has suffered, even after 2 years people have long memories. I decided to take my partner back because I still loved him and we have a child together and I didn’t want to make any rash decisions. I just want the hurt and resentment to stop, I have tried so hard. I also have the feeling that this is not the first time he has been unfaithful, (he confirmed this to my best friend and the OW) I will of course never get him to admit the truth. How can I rebuild a relationship with someone who is in denial of the truth and blames the OW for everything (Really)

  19. TryingHard November 22, 2017 at 8:07 am #

    Christina— wow you certainly have a road to hoe with all that. I am so sorry you’re in this position.

    Seems you have personal challenges on many fronts. I believe you should ask yourself why you are really staying in your relationship with him. Certainly you take your child and his condition into consideration with regards to your decision making. I understand you love your h but many times we use our live state as a crutch, an excuse even and act very co dependently. I’m sure you believe your world will come tumbling down if you put your needs before everyone else. It won’t. But i know it’s hard to make that shift.

    Can you try to detach emotionally from him? There’s lots of information out there about detaching emotionally. I know once i implemented this my life and all my relationships started to improve. Also i suggest therapy for you. You need someone with expert advice on how to live your life and conduct your relationships with the challenges you have. But first you must take care of yourself. Put your own oxygen mask on first. Then move on to others. As wives and parents we cannot be the end all and solve all our mates and children’s problems and issues. Knowing that your h is a diagnosed bi polar is good information to have to arm yourself with strategies on how to go forward. I admire you. I dint know that i could chose the path you’ve chosen to continue your relationship with your h. It seems better efforts would be to help your autistic child. I firmly believe once one has a child life is no longer about them but rather about raising that child.

    Hugs to you Christina

  20. Christina November 22, 2017 at 8:25 am #

    Thank you for you kind words, I am in counselling at the moment and looking at the very strategies you have suggested. I have to plan financially, because I will need to make sure I have some money for solicitors as this will be difficult. He left for 3 months , went to live with his brother and he never left me alone the whole time we were apart. He has been extremely dependent on me and I am quiet sure things will get ugly

  21. TryingHard November 22, 2017 at 10:06 am #

    Christina my dear. It does not have to get ugly. Matter of fact you need to make sure it doesn’t get ugly. This is where a good therapist/mediator comes into play. You may have to jump thru some hoops during the actual divorce to keep him in check and not go off the deep end. I would take the stance that given his selfish risky behavior you must look out for your child. I would be kind and reiterate your compassion for him but continue to stealthy move forward with the separation. First you must detach emotionally from him. You must look at the bigger picture and that is the welfare of your child. Thus will be no gun blazing divorce as that will only destabilize your child. You must put in a strong face for your child’s sake and work quietly behind the scenes with your solicitor and therapist and probably accountant. Your husband needs to be in his own to figure this out for himself. You are not his caretaker. He’s got challenges for sure but that is for him to sort out not you.

    I wish you the best. I cannot imagine what this is like for you. You have way more to deal with than infidelity my dear one. But i believe you’re a smart girl and. An get this figured out.

  22. TheFirstWife November 22, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

    You cannot get him to understand it change UNLESS he initiated it. Unless he wants it. Unless he is willing to put in the effort.

    So sorry for you. I hope if you do Divorce you can get it to go smoothly. For your sake and your child.

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