Advice for a woman whose husband is still in contact with the affair partner.
By Linda & Doug
We’ve stated many times in the past that we have a great community here on EAJ and quite often a reader will make a comment that is an absolute gem.
We wanted to share one with you in this post. This gem is a response to a comment from another reader whose husband was still in contact with the affair partner (or at least suspected he was).
Here we go.
A Reader Writes…
“I recently found out my husband had an emotional affair (EA) with a long-time childhood friend that doesn’t live near us and is also married. It started as just connecting on Facebook and catching up. My husband and I have been married for nearly 7 years and he says for the past 3-5 he has been unhappy – unbeknownst to me. I thought we were happy, maybe in a rut of routine, but happy and committed. I never once waivered trust in him.
Recently I noticed he has been on his phone a lot, covering the screen, turning it upside down, and taking it everywhere with him. It came out that he had been talking with this woman A LOT and he said talking to her made him happy. He says he doesn’t want to be with her and can’t be with her, but I’ve made him so unhappy that the attention from her made him happy and that she is his best friend.
We have decided to do marriage counseling and to work on our marriage, but I still suspect he is talking to her. He said he would not talk to her while we were working on our marriage, but I think he still is.
He has also told me that he loves me and wants to be with me, but that he refuses to stop being friends with her because of the length of their friendship and that she is his best friend.
I just don’t know how to bring it up and ask if he still is, because it feels like I’m beating a dead horse when I bring her up. I just don’t know where to go from here. I feel like a complete failure, I feel insecure, and I just want him to choose me and leave her.”
A Gem of a Reader Response…
I am so sorry you are going through this. I’m also sorry to tell you that based on what you wrote (which is ALL I can go by) that trying to reason with your husband at this stage of his affair will just be a waste of your time. You will only wind up feeling more frustrated and more insecure.
In order for your husband to rationalize what he continues to choose to do, he has to make you the one at fault. He can’t accept the blame himself because that would mean he wasn’t a good person.
On top of this, his friend is agreeing with him…it’s all your fault. It’s insidious and they have been making that decision about you (and her husband) for a while now.
When a husband or wife feels they have the right to continue a behavior regardless of how their spouse feels about it, then they are disrespecting their spouse and disrespecting their marriage. I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but they’ve become a team and they aren’t looking out for you.
I know it hurts to hear all of this but the sooner you can accept the reality of what is happening in your life, the sooner you can start to heal.
Just so you know, I’m not concerned about your husband right now, I’m concerned about you. He’s already so far down the rabbit hole that he can’t even listen to reason.
As long as he remains in la-la-land he is just a waste. There isn’t much anyone can do for him. Which is why I want to impress upon you to look after yourself.
If Your Spouse is Still in Contact with the Affair Partner…Become your first priority!
As Dr. Steven Stosny says in his book “Living and Loving After Betrayal,” “Get Out of the Hole First…there is a tendency to become preoccupied with the minutiae of how we’re mistreated which only distracts from the healing process.”
I repeat, become your first priority – not in the selfish, misguided way your husband chose, but in a nurturing way that supports you and your values.
If you’re married, then you have a legal, binding contract. You are one half of this relationship. You don’t have to accept a demeaning role in this relationship. You don’t have to accept a third person into your marriage. I doubt if you would have agreed to marry him if he had blatantly threatened to bring a third party into the marriage if you ever “made him so unhappy.” You have rights!
I’m glad to hear your husband agreed to counseling, but that, alone, may not be enough. I recommend you find someone who specializes in emotional affairs. Do not settle for someone who isn’t knowledgeable in this area. This is your life, and maybe the counselor can get through to your husband. However, if the counselor isn’t familiar with EAs you may not receive the help you need to get through the trauma you are experiencing.
When the spouse who has been the faithful one feels “like a complete failure” you have been traumatized. Do not willingly let your husband and his ‘friend’ dump this onto you. Don’t do to you what they are trying to do to you!
If you want to stay married to your husband and rebuild your relationship then here are some more things not to do. I am not suggesting they will be easy, but even if you choose not to stay with him, you can know you were true to yourself. One day you will recognize how important that is.
Don’t lie to yourself. Have enough respect for yourself to question what you say to yourself. It isn’t all true. I told myself for a long time that I was stupid for not recognizing what was happening. I now know that wasn’t true and it was a way for me to feel bad about myself. That didn’t serve me.
Don’t let otherwise well-meaning people tell you what you SHOULD do regarding your life or your marriage. Just because someone has had a similar experience doesn’t make them qualified to tell you what to do…including me. No one knows what is best for you but you. No one gets to live your life but you. You are the only one who will have to live with the results of your decisions. Don’t lie to yourself.
Don’t get caught up in the drama. Don’t tell yourself that she is getting the ‘best’ part of your husband. No, she isn’t. You probably wouldn’t have looked twice at him when you were single if you knew he was capable of cheating on his future wife. Right now, he isn’t the man you were attracted to and agreed to marry. No one who values themselves wants that kind of spouse. (This should show you how little they value themselves AND each other.) Don’t settle for that kind of spouse for yourself. You know you deserve more. Don’t lie to yourself.
Don’t settle for anyone that doesn’t uplift you and doesn’t challenge you to be your best. It doesn’t take much to realize that neither your husband nor his friend is challenging the other to be their best. All they are doing is using each other for their own benefit.
But, enough of what not to do…
Decide who you are in light of this experience and who you now wish to be. You cannot go back. You can only go forward. Every next level of your life will demand a different version of you.
Honor yourself in everything regarding this or any experience in your life. When all is said and done you will realize that you came into this world alone and you will leave this world alone. Be your own best friend. (I find it sad your husband places that nearly impossible task onto another who doesn’t even have his best interest at heart.)
Always take the high road. You will never do yourself a disservice if you always-take-the-high-road. It is so easy to let anger rule your thoughts and actions. The problem with letting anger control your life is that it can become addictive. It feels powerful in the moment, but its effects are temporary. When it’s over, you crash.
Bouts of anger and resentment always drop you down lower than the point at which they picked you up…” ~ Steven Stosny
It took me a long time to realize what an incredible opportunity my husband’s affair was for me. It was a time for me to finally quit lying to myself and realize how much I had discounted ‘me’ in my marriage, how much I had overlooked in order to keep the peace, and how much I had been hoping he would recognize the value I brought to the relationship.
As it turned out, I was the first one who cheated me out of a spectacular marriage. In only looking after him, I wasn’t looking after me. I didn’t express my dissatisfaction. I naively thought our disconnect would take care of itself. In retrospect I wish I had tried harder. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not taking responsibility for his choices, but a successful, loving marriage takes two. The more you are able to say, “This is who I am, this is what I stand for, and this is what I find unacceptable in our relationship,” the more you will honor you…and ultimately…him.
This is about you. It isn’t about your husband and the other person. They have their own demons that they have to work through. It’s up to YOU how you choose to view this experience. Your answer will determine YOUR future. You can view it as the end of your life or you can view it as a steppingstone to a world you can’t currently even imagine. I hope you choose you. Take care.
What do you think about the advice given?
Could following this advice have made a difference in your own situation?
What are some ways that you personally have “become your first priority?”
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
**Originally posted on 1/7/2020 and updated on 1/25/2022