I Am Still Not Over the Affair

 

What does a person do when it’s been almost 10-years and is still not over the affair?

By Sarah P.

We are introducing a new series that answers questions that are emailed to us from readers. After we have answered so many these emails in a non-public forum, we realized that we have great content, from real people, that is great to share.

This is going to be like a Dear Abby column because readers will email questions and we will answer them in blog posts. But, unlike a Dear Abby column, the topics we address relate only to infidelity and the subsequent fall-out. 

These articles will also be much longer than a Dear Abby column because we will discuss all of the psychological aspects involved in each question. Sometimes I will write these columns and other times Doug and Linda will write these columns.

Finally, the number one deciding factor for starting this column is this: we want readers to see there are others out there struggling with the very same things they struggle with. 

We will post the unedited emails because it is important for everyone to see there are others out there struggling with the same questions. The authenticity expressed in these emails from readers is important because their thoughts are easy to relate to.

Most of all, it’s reassuring because it demonstrates there are so many of us out there wondering the same things. These things that we wonder about secretly are very important because putting these ideas out there for others to read shows there is nothing to be ashamed of.

All names and any identifying details have been changed since we are examining somewhat universal experiences and dynamics. For those who email questions, you will remain anonymous.

Today’s post is about how long it takes for a betrayed spouse to recover.

Let’s dive in…

 

 

Affair Recovery Timelines

Here is a letter Doug received from a reader named Jennifer* and Doug asked me to analyze it because there are so many layers to Jennifer’s situation. Jennifer asked…

“I’ve been on the fence way too long. It’s nine years post first D day – so I should be healed, right? I either should have left, or I should have gotten over it. But it wasn’t just one affair- between 2010 and 2011 there were many more DDays- in our 40 year relationship, I learned there had been 15 other women in all- including three long term (two one-year and one ten year [affairs]), one-nighters, porn, cybersex, three-way hook-ups, lap dances, etc.  He confessed so much my counselor said there’s probably more but who’s counting.

He has been remorseful, but of the 24 things you mentioned has done them only reluctantly and inconsistently. He’s not cheating anymore, just mildly narcissistic and wonders why I can’t move on. He’s asked me many times what he can do to help- I tell him- I spell it out- he promises- then doesn’t deliver.

He’s a good father, wonderful grandfather, very helpful around the house, and can be very affectionate. Says I’m his world. But he also said he used to “tell women what they want to hear.” Due to the prolonged nature of the betrayals (took 4 years after 1st D day to get completely “sexually sober”) I’ve been diagnosed with betrayal trauma. And I still get triggered by so many things – movies, certain sexual things, his disrespect (not often anymore but still there occasionally).

I’m wondering if this is just going to be chronic. If I leave, I think that would be just as traumatic but in just a different way. I feel so stuck. Is there any way you could address this issue in a future blog entry? I know other women in my situation, and we’re all having health problems. Thanks for listening! Jennifer” 

Jennifer, if you are reading, my heart hurts for you. Big hugs, Jennifer.

I have no words to express how bad that I feel that you are experiencing this and have to live with the knowledge that her husband did these things. Unfortunately, there are many in your situation. I know that because of the work that I do, but most people do not know how many people find themselves in these situations. Why? Many people keep these things to themselves. Many men and women are afraid to even confide in a best friend for fear of being shamed.

Many betrayed spouses are afraid to speak openly about these experiences because the fear of shame overwhelms them. Fear of shame is a valid concern since we live in societies where many prefer to blame (and shame) the victim.

What is even more tragic is that betrayed spouses are experiencing projected shame. Instead of looking at their wayward spouse and thinking “what a nutcase,” many will automatically look at themselves and ask what they did wrong.

This will sometimes start a false inner-narrative where betrayed spouses might believe things such as:

  • I am not good enough
  • I am not lovable
  • I don’t know how to satisfy my wayward spouse
  • I am not attractive enough
  • What’s wrong with me?

All of these inner narratives cause betrayed spouses to feel mountains of shame and inadequacy. Worst of all, these are false narratives – these questions are not based in reality.

Yet, the betrayed spouse often incorrectly carries the burden of shame and inadequacy that is not meant for them.  A betrayed spouse did NOT create the burden because they did not offend.

It is also a burden they cannot control. A betrayed spouse cannot control whether or not a cheater will cheat again or whether or not a cheater will lie again. The burden could become bigger because we cannot control what others will do.

Veteran readers of this site know that it is impossible to cause another person to cheat. A spouse must have to desire to cheat and then strategically plan what they can do to carry on an affair.

Anytime I have thought about what it takes for the average married person to have an affair, I have realized that it takes a lot of strategic planning and lying to the faces of the people they love most.

But, behind it all, there is also a strong intention to have the affair. Someone will cheat because they want to cheat.

Whether or not they cheat or desire to cheat has nothing to do with their spouse. It has everything to do with themselves.

A cheater cheats because part of they want to and their desire to cheat is due to their own internal issues and inadequacy.

Now, I will address the major themes in this reader’s question. 

 

 

Fence Sitting

Jennifer has been fence-sitting for almost a decade and she is wondering why she has not been healed, cannot get over it, and has not made a decision to move on.

Well, this is common due to the nature of trauma. When something traumatic happens a human has three choices: fight, flee, or freeze. Dealing with betrayal is just as traumatic as trying to survive in a war zone.

Life is NOT safe. In war zones, people can SEE they are not safe. But, after being betrayed, people can feel they are not safe.

So-called fence sitting is just a form of the “freeze” response that is one of the normal responses to trauma. This reader has experienced trauma and is caught in the freeze response. This is her individual reaction to trauma and it is NOTHING to be ashamed of.

Betrayal Trauma

Jennifer has been diagnosed with betrayal trauma. Some ask me if betrayal trauma is real.

From personal experience, I will tell you that not only is betrayal trauma real, it causes serious consequences in the person who suffers from it. Suffers become mentally immobile and sometimes even physically immobile.

After I experienced trauma due to my ex, I could not move from bed, let alone eat food or drink even a small glass of water. It was one of the strangest experiences in my life and one I never thought possible because I had been so high-functioning prior to this experience.

I had stressful life experiences, but nothing so completely knocked the life out of me as betrayal trauma.

If we don’t have the opportunity to work through betrayal trauma, it can plague us for years.

The problem with betrayal trauma is that you will NEVER feel safe. You will never feel like you know who to trust. You may even startle easily when you hear unexpected sounds. You are not in a physical warzone; you are in a mental warzone.

Physical warzones can be escaped by getting on an airplane and landing somewhere safe, but mental warzones cannot be easily escaped. That is why betrayal trauma hurts so much.

George S. Everly, Jr. Ph.D, ABPP says this about betrayal trauma in his Psychology Today article:

“It’s easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. —William Blake

So what is betrayal? Well you certainly know it when you experience it. It is a gut-wrenching experience, a searing knife into your heart. You feel it before you even think about it. Then when you start thinking about it it plagues you day and night. Betrayal is treachery, deception, and violated trust. It can appear in as a broken promise, duplicity, lies, sexual affairs, and even affairs of the heart. The injury is so great some people seem to never recover. 

We are taught that to be truly happy in life we must learn to trust others. And so, often reluctantly, we let done our guard and we trust. When relationships become psychologically intimate, we have put our trust in another. We have made ourselves vulnerable to another person. We believe this person accepts us unconditionally, believes in us, and “has our back.” We cherish such a relationship because we believe our partner is understanding, faithful, and devoted in good times and bad. In a psychologically intimate relationship there is a powerful attachment and bond that is formed. Not only does this bond say to us we are understood, appreciated, and unconditionally accepted, it says we are safe. So powerful is this bond that there is evidence that the presence of a psychologically intimate partner can positively affect blood pressure and stress hormones. Psychologists have long known the deepest craving of human nature is the desire to be appreciated and to be safe.

Betrayal by an intimate partner violates these core human desires and needs! It destroys the core assumptions upon which all enduring relationships must rest. Dr. Jeff Lating and I have written extensively about the important role that violated assumptions concerning yourself and others plays in the development of PTSD (Everly & Lating, 2013). Betrayal represents the traumatic death, not of a person, but of a relationship. So as you might expect individuals who have been betrayed by a partner in a trusting psychologically intimate relationship experience many of the symptoms of PTSD. They will often report guilt, depression, psychological numbing, suspiciousness, hyper-vigilance, withdrawal from others,  nightmares, and continually (almost addictively) reliving both the positive moments (longingly) and the negative moments (painfully) of the relationship, especially the moment of the revelation of the betrayal. And again as you might expect the betrayal engenders a terrible loss of self-esteem, the rise of self-doubt, the inability to trust again, and the desire to avoid relationships in the future.

Intimate bonding with another person serves an important developmental role…it enhances the chances of survival in an otherwise hostile environment. As a result there are biological substrates that support the formation of psychologically intimate relationships. The hormone oxytocin increases the likelihood of forming an intimate relationship. Deep within the center of the brain, the cingulate cortex is believed to play a role in fostering attachment and bonding with others. Betrayal is likely to adversely affect these substrates. We know that violated attachments result in a rise in the immunosuppressive and catabolic hormone cortisol along with an apparent hypersensitivity within the amygdalocentric fight and flight centers of the limbic system (see Everly and Lating, 2013). The psychological injury of betrayal is likely to create a functional physical injury within your brain that is challenging to recover from, but not impossible.” (1)

 

Take careful note of that last sentence… “The psychological injury of betrayal is likely to create a functional physical injury within your brain that is challenging to recover from, but not impossible.”

I like to provide everyone with hope, because there is great reason to have hope in this world. However, I wanted to talk about the ugly side of betrayal trauma: it can create a functional injury within your brain.

Here is what I love about modern neuroscience: we can now measure brain injury. We can measure if a brain is injured during a football game AND we can also measure if a brain is injured due to a psychological experience.

Before modern neuroscience, people could observe that injuring one’s head could injure one’s brain. They could see what happened when a person was hit on the head. Most people lost consciousness and if the injury was bad enough, people would lose memories.

In the past, we were under the mistaken belief that only a physical injury, such as an enormous blow to the head, could damage the brain.

But, now we can see that emotional trauma injures the brain. Emotional trauma causes observable changes to the human brain.

One of the statements that angers me the most is the statement: it’s all in your head. This statement is usually spoken with a sarcastic tone to someone who is suffering from depression or other emotional pain. The statement implies that if they just “lightened up” all would be well.

 

 

“I Am Still Not Over the Affair” – The Fork in the Road

Where does Jennifer go from here?

She mentions that if she leaves, life will be traumatic in a different way. That is true and untrue at the same time.

A divorce at this time in life will be stressful, but it may not be traumatic. I know men and women who have found a freedom like none other after divorcing someone who harmed them so deeply.

One thing is for certain: a divorce will allow Jennifer to take her power back. When a person takes their power back, they are able to feel more safe and they are no longer stuck.

Jennifer mentions they are all having health problems.

Well, chronic stress causes health problems. Jennifer has been subjected to the stress of someone else’s bad choices for years.

If I were having health problems and I was married to someone like Jennifer’s husband, I would not want that person anywhere near me while I was ill. Someone like that can trip over a cord in the hospital while no one was looking.

If I cannot trust someone to have my best interests in mind and keep their basic commitment to me during marriage, I would be an idiot to trust them with my health and wellbeing. Personally, I would not trust someone who lived a double life with my end of life care—not even if that person living a double life was a genetic relative.

But, that is me.

I like to inform people of the different choices they have before them, but I cannot tell them what it best for them.   I simply don’t know every last detail of how a person would be affected. Plus, we all have freewill and we must own our freewill and our choices. Now, there are exceptions to the rules: abusive marriages? Contact a domestic violence counselor immediately and make a safety plan.

Wonderful Husband and Grandfather?

Jennifer says that her husband can be a wonderful husband and grandfather. I would like to know how that works. What I think is going on is that her husband has a double life. You see, if someone is going to constantly act out sexually, it would not serve them well to walk around naked wearing only a trench coat and flashing people in the park.

It’s one way of sexually acting out constantly, but the problem is, people will call the police. A person who did this might land himself on a sexual offender list. If he does not, he will be known as the town pariah. People would rather have dinner with a leper than with a husband and grandfather who runs around the city flashing people.

Anyone with any common sense knows that is not a way to act out sexually and still be accepted and respected in society. So what does this reader’s husband do to act out sexually?

Let’s go back to the letter:

But it wasn’t just one affair- between 2010 and 2011 there were many more DDays- in our 40 year relationship, I learned there had been 15 other women in all- including three long term (two one-year and one ten year [affairs]), one-nighters, porn, cybersex, three-way hook-ups, lap dances, etc. He confessed so much my counselor said there’s probably more but who’s counting.”

Sigh. I can guarantee your counselor is right: there is more. I am counting because it tells me that you cannot count on your husband.

Okay, can a man be a good husband and grandfather and do all those things. He can’t be and he KNOWS it.

He has carefully cultivated a social face where he is this terrific guy! How do I know this?

Because my first boyfriend and my ex were the very same people. I did not learn the lesson with my first boyfriend.

My Experience

You see, both my first boyfriend and my ex both came off as “dorky.” In fact, people even called them “dorks.” They both behaved a bit goofy in public, spoke a lot about church, dressed very conservatively, were always ready to lend a helping hand or write grandma a letter, and they talked about “dorky” things a lot.

These two men are two of the biggest sociopaths on earth.

That goofy exterior was carefully crafted so that they would be the LAST person anyone would expect to be a sexual deviant. They were both extremely sexually deviant and knew that the best way to hide that is to create a double life and a false persona.

One time I showed my oldest son (who was a teen by this time) a current (online) photo of my first boyfriend. My son laughed really hard and I wanted to know why.

My son said, “You can’t tell that’s a pervert face? He looks just like Sheriff Woody.”

I said, “That’s a Toy Story character and Sheriff Woody wasn’t a pervert.”

My son laughed harder… I was missing something.

Then he showed me all the Sheriff Woody memes online. Meme makers are convinced Sheriff Woody has a pervert face and there are all kinds of memes about this. Once I saw them, I burst out laughing too. Teens are full of such interesting information!

 

 

The only non X-rated pervert Woody meme I could find. These memes were created in Japan and many of them are very disturbing. This one is the most “mild” one I could find. The rest are just traumatic.

And my son is correct: my first boyfriend is the Pervert Sheriff Woody. That is what my first boyfriend looks like now; he cannot hide the pervert. His face now shows it, but in college he looked squeaky clean.

But, he wasn’t.

My first boyfriend actually spent Sunday morning going to church and Sunday afternoons writing letters to his grandma about her cooking. One time he told his grandma I made the most giant “buckeye” candy he had ever seen. His grandma wanted a photo.

So, I made some buckeye candy, he put a ruler next to it, took a photo of it, and sent photographic proof of the giant piece of buckeye candy to dear Grandma. Dear Grandma was impressed. Now, if he were a nice person, that would have been sweet gesture. But, he did these things to seem like the most clean cut person on the planet.

His stay-at-home mom and his sisters adored me and I adored them too. I did not see his father much because his father was an executive who worked all the time. I was thrilled to have fit in so well with his mom and his sisters (and grandma too!) I want to have excellent family relations. Sometimes I traveled with him and his family and it was always fun. His mom was hilarious, witty, and fun-loving. His mom would talk about what a great wife I would make. (I had my first relationship in college).

Then it all fell apart.

When his tightly constructed mask came off, he was a SCARY human being. His goofy façade was carefully crafted so that he could have five different (female) lovers (aside from me) in the same week. It also came out that he had a “special” male friend and they did “special” things when they traveled to car shows together. Hint: it was NOT prostitutes, it was each other.

The relationship ended badly. He refused to accept that I had broken up with him. He told me that a woman did not have that kind of power because the Bible said the woman was subservient to the demands of her spouse. He was not my spouse … and where does the Bible truly say that?

And if the Bible does say that, then I ask people to look at thousands of years of Jewish history because Jews wrote the Bible. Jesus was a Jew and a Rabbi and Jesus largely followed Jewish law. The times he did not was when he was questioned.

Jewish women have been equals to Jewish men for thousands of years. Jewish women owned property. When did that start? In the chapter called Numbers 25:

“Among this naming and counting, a surprise pops up: In the tribe Menashe a man named Zelophehad had no sons — only daughters — whose names are listed along with the men. The significance of these named women becomes clear at the end of the chapter, when Moses explains to the newly counted tribes of Israel, that “among these shall the land be apportioned as shares, according to the listed names.

While Moses clearly states that all those named will be awarded land, the very next chapter begins with the plea of the daughters of Zelophehad: “Let not our father’s name be lost to his clan just because he had no son! Give us a holding among our father’s kinsmen!” Despite the law, these women still had to fight for what was rightfully theirs.

Moses takes the case before God, who immediately rules in favor of the women, saying: “The plea of Zelophehad’s daughters is just: you should give them a hereditary holding among their father’s kinsmen.” Thus, God sets the precedent that, “if a man dies without leaving a son, you shall transfer his property to his daughter.” (2)

 

Jewish women were able to run businesses and petition for divorce for thousands of years.

But, my ex had been told that women were property and he believed I had no right to break up with him since we had spoken of marriage.

He started stalking me. During the summer, I moved 3,000 miles away. He got my address from a friend and wrote letters about how I was his property and how he would take me by (sexual) force when I returned. I hired an attorney and the attorney wrote a very nasty letter to him. That’s what it took to make him stop contacting me.

Wow… he was such a great guy!

On the surface, he was goofy, he loved grandma, he was getting an excellent education, he had boring hobbies, and he went to church. He dressed like one of the most clean-cut and conservative people you could ever meet.

That was no more than an intentionally crafted social face. His extreme intentionality in cultivating this social face became apparent during the break-up.

Like a good sociopath, he carefully studied people, learned what caused people to “trust” others, learned what others found to be trustworthy, and he built a nearly water-tight façade around it.

Then, when no one was looking, he was an extreme sexual deviant. He was the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Some will wonder if he grew up. The answer would be NO. For as long as I was at that university and AFTER I broke it off, I would get calls from women I never met. They would find me because they had been dating him. He would ultimately cheat on them with enormous amounts of people, they would find out, and they would call me.

How did they know me? He would talk constantly about how I broke his heart and he used his broken heart as an excuse to sew his wild oats. These women would find out who I was and ask my side of the story.

My side was the same as theirs: I had been a LOYAL and devoted girlfriend to him. Then, when I found out he was cheating on me with many people and extremely sexually deviant, I broke up.

He was the one causing broken hearts; he was NOT the victim of a broken heart. He is a perfect example of a sociopath.

So, I know all about men who are the greatest husbands and who do all these great things in their community. These men usually have the respect of everyone they meet and project the image of the perfect family man.

It’s no more than a carefully constructed façade so that they can have a respectable wife and family. They intentionally hide behind the image of being the perfect family man so that no one suspects they are sociopathic, social deviants.

But, I am speaking only from my experience. 

 

 

Forty Years Is a Long Time

I do understand why Jennifer is on the fence. Forty years is a long time. But, there will also be fall-out across the entire family. The great husband and grandpa of so many years will be discovered to be a fraud.

This post has hit too close to home for me. Why?

Because during the past couple of months I found out that a close family member of over forty years has been going to tremendous lengths to live a double-life. The emotional and financial devastation that this person’s actions have caused can never be taken back.

This person is NOT my husband; I have not been married for forty years.

However, this person is a very close relative; one I trusted my entire life and one who has caused irreparable damage to the entire family through selfish actions. The damage is incalculable.

But, I am not in Jennifer’s situation.

I would recommend that Jennifer go get a free consultation with an attorney and look at all the different ways this can play out. What will a divorce look like? Is it scarier to stay married to someone who has admitted that he tells people what they want to hear OR is it scarier to get divorced?

In Summary

I wanted to give a word out of the “mouths of babes.” My youngest son is autistic. My husband and I overheard my youngest son arguing with my oldest. My oldest son had tricked my youngest son into giving my oldest something from a video game they were playing. My oldest tricked my youngest son into trading something and promised he would trade something in return.

My youngest son held up his end of the bargain and made the trade. When my youngest asked my oldest to keep his promise and give my youngest son the agreed trade, my oldest said, “Sucker!! I lied to you…”

I was in another room and almost stepped in, but wanted to hear how my autistic son would handle it. I heard my youngest roar and stomp before he spoke.

Then my autistic son said to my oldest: “It’s evil to make a promise to someone that you know you will never keep. It is evil to lie to me and promise me something that you will never give me. If you want to be a good person, you need to keep your promises! And if you know you can’t keep a promise, don’t make a promise to someone in the first place! You are evil when you lie and don’t keep promises!”

I looked at my husband and we both raised our eyebrows.

I said, “Wow. He really said it.”

My husband was rendered speechless as was my oldest son because my oldest son was struck silent.

Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. But, I also say, ye shall speak the truth and the truth shall set you free.

Here is the truth of the matter: if someone has hurt us over and over again, we cannot change that fact and we have no control over how that person will treat us in the future.

But, we do have control over ourselves, our choices, and our actions. We can choose to remove ourselves from situations where we are liable to get hurt. We can choose to leave the people who have caused trauma bonds. We can choose to find people who keep their promises.

We have control over our future and our destiny. We have control over whether or not to say NO.

The only way to get out of limbo is to realize a spouse who has done terrible things has to live with themselves and their terrible deeds. We don’t have to accept people who break major promises. It doesn’t matter if we have known them for years.

We can only be victimized if we allow someone to continue to victimize us.

They say we teach people how to treat us; do not teach someone how to treat you poorly. All of us teach people to treat us poorly when we don’t dole out consequences for serious offenses. Having a double-life that involves sexual deviancy is a serious offense.

Jennifer, it is time to find your inner power. You owe absolutely nothing to someone who has chosen to live a life doing unspeakable things. Your husband broke his promises. Your husband will never be able to un-do the damage he did. That is NOT possible.

You find power by acting in your best interests. Please look out for number one first: you are number one.

Get in Touch with Your Own Power

Readers…

Please give Jennifer your advice. I am only one person and I have opinions based on my experiences and how I am feeling today. I cannot know the whole of Jennifer’s life by reading a short email.

Readers, what did you do to find your power?

What wise words do you have to help Jennifer heal?

What practical information do you have for Jennifer?

Let’s rally around Jennifer in her time of need, so please tell us what you think. The more of us out our heads together, the better!

 

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-disaster-strikes-inside-disaster-psychology/201806/the-trauma-intimate-partner-betrayal

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-daughters-of-zelophehad-and-the-divine-right-of-ownership/

Photos:

Martin Cooper

pjdoubleyou

Katy Warner

 

    30 replies to "Dear EAJ: After Nearly a Decade, I Am Still Not Over the Affair"

    • Puzzled

      Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 15, 20, 30 times…Jennifer, it’s time to make a clear realization: your husband is a serial cheater and a relationship predator. A good husband and grandfather does not, I REPEAT, DOES NOT CHEAT! Go to your adult children and explain what is about to transpire. Go to an attorney and discuss every available option for you. My guess, since I am not into cheating, is that he probably has a current mistress or two. The picture you paint is one of a sexually charged, irresponsible slime ball. And your words are “…there had been 15 other women in all- including three long term (two one-year and one ten year [affairs]), one-nighters, porn, cybersex, three-way hook-ups, lap dances, etc.” Let’s analyze this: 2 one-year relationship and 1 10 year = 3 women. One-nighters=15-20 women and possibly more. Porn=grow up and stop. Cybersex=25-30 times maybe more (and what the hell is Cybersex?). Three-way hook-ups=how many times and how many different partners? Lap Dances=What is he, a 19 year old college kid?
      Ok, so here’s the grand total for you: Most likely you are looking at him having at least 25 but more likely 50+ cheating sexual episodes with real humans which equates to you being exposed to 25-50 sexual partners/diseases. Compound that to each of those 25-50+ partners sleeping with one person each adds 25-50 more people and you can keep compounding the number of sexual diseases/partners to which you’ve been exposed. Cybersex & porn seems to point to some sexual addiction and/or a lack of ability to truly have an intimate & honest relationship. When does he have time for all of this if he is such a great husband & grandfather?
      I hope you have a son who you can tell because my hope is that he walks up to his father and slugs him in the face. Your husband is a jerk. He is a cheater. He is a liar. He is consumed with one thing: himself. Kick him to the curb. You’ve suffered enough. He has used you for 40 years to have his “picture frame life” so he can show his true nature elsewhere. Live the rest of your life knowing you finally stood up and said “NO”!

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Puzzled,

        Well, it seems that way… a “picture frame life.” That’s a perfect way to describe it, Puzzled.

        I cannot imagine the pain of someone in this situation.

        Jennifer has concrete proof that her husband is not the person she thought he was. That is hard to swallow.

        Yes, I do believe her husband is consumed with himself and his selfishness as well.

        The one thing I wonder is this: why did this information take so long to come out? I am wondering if she caught him red-handed and he admitted it OR if he confessed.

        One time there was a situation where a guy confessed on this deathbed – to his wife -that he had many lovers throughout their long marriage. The wife had no clue. The reason the guy confessed was so that he could “confess all his sins” before he died and get into heaven. (He should have taken it to a Priest or Pastor and not his wife). His motive for confessing was purely selfish on his part because he wanted to go to heaven. He didn’t care about his wife.. he was just trying to “buy the Jesus ticket.” Hint: the Jesus ticket doesn’t exist and if it did exist, it couldn’t be bought with money and it couldn’t be acquired by living a crappy life and then saying “sorry” right before you die. That’s cheating in and of itself. God is well-aware of someone’s heart and that their motive for confessing in such situations is solely to avoid consequences.

        I don’t want Jennifer to hold on to the very end, just to find out her husband is even worse than what she already knows. If she leaves, she can go find some happiness.

        What does everyone else think?

    • Exercisegrace

      Jennifer. First of all, I’m deeply sorry for what this man has put you through.

      When my husband’s affair came to light, it was devastating. We spent nearly two years in counseling. I made it very clear to him that I expected the entire truth. I also told him that one affair was a mistake, and I was going to accept that. BUT if he ever cheated again, it would be considered a conscious CHOICE. Your husband has made the same horrible choices over and over again. He has chosen to pursue these relationships again and again. There is no indication that he is showing real remorse or setting boundaries to protect your relationship. I would urge you to find a qualified counselor, experienced in affairs, and explore what his behavior over these many many years has done to you. YOU deserve to be happy and whole. It may or may not be possible with this man in your world.

    • Shifting Impressions

      In my opinion there is so much more involved in this situation than “GETTING OVER THE AFFAIR”. This is discovering the person you are married to has completely deceived you and has been living a double life. A life of lies and deception….and most likely been putting Jennifer at risk (health wise). I am not sure one ever “gets over that”.

      My adult children told me that no matter what I decided regarding staying or going….they would always love me. That in and of itself was very freeing.

      I don’t believe I would want to stay with someone who had disregarded me to that extent. I think Jennifer needs to ask herself what she really wants.

    • Hopeful

      My husband’s biggest fear is he would die and I would find out after the fact what he did. Also I think often if there are discretions of any sort there is probably more that has not come to the surface. No one drinks and drives and gets caught the first and only time. For me finding the right therapist for me was key. My therapist walked me through all of this. There was a point where I had the details I needed, set the expectations and boundaries that made me feel safe and even be able to think of potentially trusting him in the future. This took a long time to get to this point. I was stuck on wanting to know every detail. Mine was more how many times did you meet. And over time since his affairs were sporadic he could not provide all the details. So my therapist and I walked through what was critical for me to know. And then it was more about digging into why he did this, how he let it happen, do I want to stay, does he want to stay and what changes need to be made. In the end he had to want to make all the changes. This was on him. We set excellent boundaries and it was going great but my therapist urged me that I needed to give him some rope and see what he does. My therapist said we cannot live in a constant state of being guarded or thinking about this all the time. It is just not healthy long term. This of course came after lots of work and proving he wanted to change and then following it through with actions. I still would get hung up on details. They felt like huge issues for me. I will never forget my therapist saying he had a patient and every time the couple drove by the hotel where the affairs took place the wife had to bring it up. And over time she could not get past it. My therapist said in cases like that it probably is best to move on. And my therapist did not minimize moving on. Moving on does not make anything easier, my therapist explained I would still have to recovery and cope with the betrayal and then the loss of the relationship.

      My therapist was amazing. My therapist was a specialist in working with patients who had been the wayward or betrayed. I traveled somewhat far for my therapy. The initial appointments were double in order to help with the travel time. I made sure my therapist was licensed and specialized in infidelity/betrayal. I also asked what their perspective was related to recovery. My therapist without hesitation would support what I wanted to do or help me figure that out whether that meant staying or leaving unless there was abuse. There are many therapist who have standard beliefs that a wife should always stay or always leave. I was shocked to learn this but it is somewhat common.

      Best wishes in navigating this path. It is not an easy one but in the end worth it no matter what you decide.

    • Sarah P.

      Hello Everyone,
      These are all great and insightful comments. As always, thank you for taking the time to post and provide much needed guidance to those who are hurting like Jennifer.

      I have to admit that every time I read someone’s affair story, my heart is broken. It doesn’t matter how many of them I read, my heart will never grow callous to the suffering of others. Jennifer’s affair story was very hard to read and my heart goes out to her.

      I can see everyone else who comments here feels the same way too and I am so very grateful to all of you and so very grateful that we have a little community here to lift one another up, despite where we are at in recovery and despite whether we stay or go.

      How has everyone’s week been?

      Big hugs to all of you,
      Sarah

    • Recovering

      Jennifer, I am so sorry for the pain you are experiencing.

      I have been an unfaithful husband. Like your husband, I was/am a narcissist who cheated on his wife multiple times, never valued her, rationalized my actions in illogical ways, lived a double life, deprived my wife and children of the life they deserved, and was truly a monster of selfishness.

      Yet I was successful at work and widely respected in the community. Our friends considered us a model family. We were once told by our son’s girlfriend that she believed successful marriage was possible from knowing us. And my wife is the most extraordinary person I know, trusting and able to commit. This is the person whom I abused and lied to for decades (we’re married for 36 years).

      D-day was four years ago and we still struggle to make our relationship work. I tell you this because I want to share my experience with you and hope it may provide some insight for your decision making.

      Several years before D-day, at the age of 54, I started going to therapy. I knew I had issues; I simply did not understand why I acted the way I did, felt the way I did. In therapy I explored my own traumatic past and how that shaped me into the narcissist and sex addict I became. When discovery happened, I lied. It took me six months to reveal everything. It took another two years before I recognized that I was making recovery about my needs, not my wife’s. The hardest thing has been allowing her to feel the waves of frustration, resentment, disappointment, anger, and sorrow that have come from my betrayals with acceptance, trying to be there for her rather than defend myself. But this has led to ways she has been able to judge whether or not our marriage is safe for her.

      We have boundaries. Do I stay within them? She triggers and floods. Can I empathize, or do I make my anger and resentment the basis for my response? Do I continue in therapy? Do I seek the company of healthy men? Do I continue to work on my issues with other unfaithful men? Jennifer, we set milestones by which my wife can measure safety.

      Forgive the long-winded answer, but working with a counselor, can you create and establish behavioral milestones with your husband and determine if he is working toward healing himself and your marriage? What is he willing to share with your children, with family? Will he do the things that make you feel safe? These questions may help your decision making process.

    • Sarah P.

      Hello Recovering,

      Welcome!

      Thank you SO MUCH for your comment and your transparency regarding yourself and your marriage. I would love to hear more from you.

      We have so many hurting betrayed spouses in the world who look in the mirror each day and still secretly wonder if flaw x, y, or z caused a spouse to cheat. We all know that on a rational level that we cannot cause someone to cheat, but being betrayed does not bring out a rational mindset.

      Your feedback is EXTREMELY valuable and important to us.

      So, I am going to ask the hard questions.

      Have you and your therapist been able to untangle what happened early in your life to set you on a destructive path?

      You mentioned trauma in life. Could you give a basic overview of what that trauma was and how it shaped you?

      Can you tell us more about the paradox of how your wife is the most extraordinary person you know and how you were still able to have affairs? (This is one of the hardest things for betrayed spouses to wrap their head around).

      How did you rationalize it at the time?

      I ask these questions with an open heart. I do not seek to shame you and I do not want others to shame you either. I can sense you have some answers that might give relief to the betrayed spouse’s who read this blog.

      I promise I will NOT go on the attack and I don’t believe anyone else will either. It’s time to have civil dialogues about betrayal so that each side can understand the other.

      While we cannot change the past, we have full control over creating a future where healing is possible for both sides.

      Do you mind sharing more of your story?

      Also, as I have mentioned before, I do NOT know the identities of readers and commenters. I only know them by their screen name. I think this is a necessary to help create a safe and respectful space for everyone.

      Anything that you can tell us would be so helpful.

      Thank you,
      Sarah

      • Recovering

        Sarah,
        I am happy to respond to your questions. First though, I would like to acknowledge Jennifer and the attitude she has brought to her own recovery. It sounds as if she is working hard.

        As far as my therapy goes and the traumas of my past, I’d rather not go into that except to say that it took years of work to untangle the results of having a narcissistic mother, a severely dysfunctional family, a violent neighborhood, and an incident of childhood abuse. But I think you ask two critical questions: how could I recognize that my wife is an extraordinary person yet still cheat and treat her so poorly; and how did I rationalize it?

        The short answer to the first question is that my acting out was not in response to my wife. I was going to be the same kind of terrible husband no matter who I married. If I had married one of my affair partners, I would have cheated on her. As a narcissist, it seemed to me that I deserved all of the wonderful things my wife did for me and our family. I was blind to the fact that I had done nothing to earn the love I received from her and my children. But I was programmed to act out no matter to whom I was married. This in no way justifies what I did. It was my responsibility as an adult to recognize my behaviors and address them. I knew the difference between wrong and right. So I created a narrative to justify doing the wrong thing, which leads to your second question about rationalization.

        I told myself all sorts of garbage. I was so special that I could live two lives and be equally effective and present in both. My wife was so self-sufficient that I could leave her and the kids for several days at a time. Note that everything was about me, about how I felt. There was absolutely no consideration about what my wife, or anyone else, felt. I lacked empathy.

        It’s important for betrayed spouses to know that, at least in cases like mine, their unfaithful spouses are not acting out in response to them. It seems strange to say, but who my wife is as a person simply was not a factor in what I did. That may be true for some of your other readers as well. My wife has been central to my recovery, though. She has been willing to stay with me and insist that I heal. In that I have been truly fortunate.

        This answer too is a bit long winded. I hope it is helpful.

        • Sarah P.

          Hello Recovering,

          There is no such thing as a long-winded answer! Here we love long answers because they are generally detailed and they provide the desperately needed “aha” moments. Thank you for gifting us with information from another perspective.

          The research I have done demonstrates that we CANNOT cause a person to cheat on us.

          But, reading research and hearing it from a real person is different.

          Hearing it from you is essential because it’s more compelling.

          The fact that you recognized you could have married anyone and you still would have cheated is an essential breakthrough. Thank you for telling us about that because it validates that betrayed spouses have done nothing to cause their spouse to cheat.

          I completed a course taught by Doctors Julie and John Gottman about infidelity and early life trauma. The course also covered the traumatic fall out for the betrayed spouse.

          The fact that you had adverse childhood experiences appears to correlate to research that demonstrates it is easier for people with these so-called “ACE’s” to have very dysfunctional relationships in adulthood. These adverse childhood experiences do NOT cause a person to cheat. A person must make a choice. But, someone who had an early life filled with pain can end up “self-medicating” by having affairs with other people. Having affairs with other people can provide a constant stream of validation and that validation can serve as temporary band-aids to cover old wounds, but they never actually fix anything.

          I would like to know more about your narcissistic mother and how that contributed toward your view of women. From what I have read in the textbooks, sons of narcissistic mothers do not have the tools required to have a healthy marriage. They were never given the tools in their family of origin. Once again, this does not cause someone to cheat, but since I have been working solely on infidelity, I have made the observation that so many men who are unfaithful have or had narcissistic mothers. I would like to see someone do research studies on this, but truth be told, most men would not sign up for such a study. The men I know would rather saw off their arm than take a deep look at the relationship they had with their narcissistic mom.

          My own husband has a highly narcissistic mother and her narcissism impacts every aspect of her life. She has no friends, cannot keep a job, and was even fired from her own hairdresser one time. (Yes, that happened; she was so rude to the hairdresser the hairdresser wouldn’t allow her to return). My husband’s mom has certainly affected our marriage over the years, but I have been very open about the fact that I will not tolerate him projecting his gripes with his mom onto others. Anytime he speaks with his mom, afterwards, he will end up projecting her behavior onto our sons or onto me. When he does that, I tell him to call his mom because that is who he is actually talking to. I do not tolerate it. Being a human being, I have my flaws; but I know where my flaws begin and end. I am always happy to own my actual flaws, but I refuse to own the flaws of others.

          One day I asked my husband why he had such a hard time admitting to himself that his mom is a malignant narcissistic since even his much younger brother has come to the realization this is the case about their mother. My husband told me that really exploring the harm she did would cause him to think of her as an evil human being. He said if he truly ever understood his mom is evil, his world would fall apart because this realization is too emotionally hard for him. He has seen therapists in the past and every therapist he has ever seen has told him that until he really explores the harm done to him that occurred due to his mom, he will never have a truly fulfilling life. He never returns to a therapist once they figure it out. It’s truly sad.

          He still suffers from the trauma of his childhood and he also suffers from having a father who is an enabler. During the times he has told his mom what she has done and stood up to her, his mom pitches a fit and his father calls him and yells at him until he apologizes to his mom for implying she is less than perfect.

          I would like to know how your relationship with your narcissistic mom has affected you and if you see any correlation between having a narcissistic mom and infidelity. I have observed a correlation, but I have never done a large-scale research project on the topic to figure out if it is an evidence-based correlation versus an observation. I don’t know if there is causality when a man has a narcissistic mother and then has an affair, but my gut instinct tells me that there is. It remains an instinct for now.

          If you want to enlighten us more, please do. Betrayed spouses need to hear the message over and over again that it is not about them. If you want to tell us more about the walls of denial/defense mechanisms that you built that allowed you to have affairs, let us know. Some betrayed spouses bite their nails off and lose sleep, lose weight, go gray, (and sometimes even lose hair) because they are a nervous wreck and trying to figure out what they did wrong. (We betrayed spouses know rationally we did nothing wrong, but our emotions often cause us to doubt). If you could let us know more, we would deeply appreciate it.

          I am also very sorry to hear about your childhood. Experiencing childhood trauma can affect us our entire life.

          Thank you,

          Sarah

          • Recovering

            Sarah,
            I don’t want to dwell too much on my own therapy, but the insights you articulate about the impacts of a narcissistic mother are spot-on. My wife and I are at a point where we agree on the toxic impact my mother has had on our marriage and all of my relationships, and can even joke about it. Several years ago, my therapist–who tends to ask more questions than make definitive statement–made a rare affirmation when he said, “You know your mother is the cause of all your problems.” I laughingly replied, “My wife will feel so validated.”

            But you are correct that I constantly sought validation to counter a deep belief in my own inadequacy, and the term “self-medicating” that you use mirrors my experience. Ironic since many would consider me professionally, financially, and socially very successful. Unfortunately, reality mattered less than perception.

            I’ve pretty much stopped communicating with my mother except in the shallowest sense and in public settings. She recently called my home while I was out and spoke with my wife, and made particularly egregious comments. My wife subsequently did some research and came across the work of Kenneth Addams, Ph.D., who researches a field he labels “covert incest,” which sounds really icky. It is sexualizing a relationship with a child short of genital contact.

            Addams uses a term I like, saying that when there is covert incest, the adult offspring has to “divorce the parent.” I know I needed to have psychological distance from my mother. But with that distance has come the realization that she is not so much evil as pitiful. She is the product of her own traumatic childhood. As an adult, she never rose above it and inflicted a great deal of pain on her children.

            This understanding has not made me interested in including her in my life; one doesn’t knowingly bring a toxin into one’s home. But it has given me perspective on who she is and where I came from. And it highlighted yet another reason why my wife is so extraordinary. I didn’t pass that dysfunction and toxicity on to my children. They had a mother who was such a strong and good influence that they turned into wonderful people with great capacity to love.

            I shared this chain of correspondences with my wife, who tells me she believes that I’ve changed and feels valued by me, though there are times when I regress to defensiveness or that she triggers on cues from the past. So I hope that your readers find something hopeful in my story. After three decades of being a terrible husband, and four years after D-Day, we are preparing for a recommitment ceremony.

            My story is as extreme as anyone’s that you will come across, but with hard work and a desire to change, healing is possible. My wife had to determine the milestones that would make her feel safe, and loved, in our marriage, and then could measure if change was happening. This may be helpful for your other readers.

            You also make an important point in your correspondence below. Many therapeutic models in couples counseling insist that the problem is caused in part by each spouse. Our first couples therapist insisted that must be true with us.

            We found a different therapist.

            I knew I was the problem, not my wife. I just didn’t have the tools to do something about it. My wife shouldn’t have to take the blame for something that wasn’t her fault. All of your readers who are betrayed spouses may want to go through an honest self-evaluation, and if they believe they are not at fault, don’t take the blame.

            • WhoKnows

              Thank you, Recovering. Your post has helped me tremendously! With your example, I’m seeing some light for how this may turn out in a good way in the end. My BS situation is exactly the same as yours with a narcissistic mother which is really the root of all his problems (passive-aggressiveness, selfishness, etc.) You are right that we should not let toxin into our homes. Could you share info of your therapist (through Doug) if possible? He seems to really know what he is doing.

        • Jennifer

          Recovering:
          Your comments could have been written by my husband. Tho my rational mind (and countless therapists) have told me my H’s behavior had nothing to do with me, the emotional part of my brain just doesn’t seem to get it. I feel safest when my H is being very gentle and forthcoming with me, or when I’m somewhere else, like with a friend or one of my adult children. I liked your previous comment “our healing is stalled bc my ego gets in the way”. I think there are a lot of people out there who had abusive childhoods who developed a “survival” mindset; I.e. look out for #1. My H was sexually abused as a child. I wasn’t, but was brought up to be a “let’s all pretend everything is great” kind of family, which worked pretty well until my 19 year old sister died suddenly of an asthma attack. My H and I started our relationship already hauling a hell of a lot of baggage!! It’s taking decades to unravel it, as Sarah said.
          Last night I read the blog and all the posts to my H. His response at first was something like “well, they can’t know us just from one email you wrote. It’s just you and me who know what our relationship is all about.” Wow. I said: “suppose a wife writes about how her H physically abuses her every so often. You know what 100% of the advice would be then, right? They wouldn’t know the whole story but it’s glaringly obvious what the wife should do.” He was silent for a moment, then said softly: “I get it.” He is so trying to get out of his own ego.
          We’ve got a date tonite to do an exercise from Hold Me Tight. (Sue Johnson). I’ll report back:-). I can’t tell you how helpful you’ve all been. Big hugs!!

      • Remorseful

        Dear All

        I am a Betrayer as well. I hope to be able to provide some input into the discussion as to the reasons for such disgusting behavior.

        I had a normal childhood in a father dominated mother submissive environment. Dad was never abusive but needed his way. Mum agreed and happily complied. The last years of my schooling and education was 8000 miles away from home. I don’t think anything in my childhood contributed to my need to have cheated. Unless someone can see something about being away from home young.

        My nonsense started about 5 years ago when I had a lot of free time, playing golf and drinking with the golf and drinking groups which included married people with girlfriends or lovers. Several members of the groups were openly going out with their lovers.

        It seemed normal and I wanted to see if it’s that easy. It was. Through a dating ap, presto, there was someone.. easy sex, seemingly no strings attached…
        Then the demands came it….I ran away nicely but still kept in touch. I later found out what a slut she really is. Always easy, multiple men with $$$$ in mind.

        I really never thought about the wife and family I say and know I love. I just took them for granted and felt they will always be there. What a stupid insensitive and Satan inspired feeling!

        In my case, I think is was my ego….my poor will power, my low moral code and of course my lack of fear of God.

        This ended a few years back. I tried to hide it and thought I had until 7 months ago, through divine intervention (I still shudder at the sequence of events), my wife found out. Of course I lied and was defensive in the classic ways described by all books.

        The devastation on to my wife was phenomenal…my lies and then further discovery and deception kept making the situation worse. We go through huge ups and downs. Doug and Linda’s blog help. I have spoken to Doug but the recovery is stalled because of me and my ego. Always rationalizing the situation. My humility and remorse towards my always accommodating wife is still lacking although I say I am doing my best.

        My posting this is an effort to find that.

        We have intimacy but my guilt and fear of rejection is preventing my from being more proactive and spontaneous…

        There are many things that I have to improve and be truthful to win her back again.

        The question always in my mind is that of being a “man” in handling the situation…am I a man just to walk out of a over 35 year relationship or have humility, remorse and try to rebuild a life with the person I have betrayed. I am choosing the second option.

        May God help suppress my ego, find my heart, forgive my sins and most importantly help my wife heal from the actions of a deceitful and shameless man..

        Your wishes and advice too.

    • WhoKnows

      Recovering, please tell us more. As Sarah said, particularly interested in learning how you can make choices that hurt your wife while you also know she is the most extraordinary woman you meet. Is it because you are sure you would never lose her? Even so, wouldn’t you fear of losing her respect for you?

      Also, I am a firm believer that all BS have some childhood issues that they can trace to. Would you say exploring these childhood issues helped you growth as a person or would you rather be forward-looking and not touch the past? My BS is of the latter view. He could not understand the benefit of facing his childhood issues. I think it has to do with his ability to handle the truth. Of course a 3-year old would not benefit from having an advanced tool like a band saw, but if that 3-year old grows to 30 and acquire the necessary skills he will benefit from having such a tool and can make beautiful creations with it. But that’s just what I think.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi WhoKnows,

        I can empathize with what you are going through with your husband. When people avoid looking at their childhood, I have noticed that it’s because the pain of doing so will be severe and emotionally disabling. They know there is a metaphorical 5,000 foot tall mountain of garbage lingering in their life, but they don’t know where to start. I have noticed women are more willing to explore these mountains.

        I like your analogy about the band saw. That is so true!
        Sarah

    • Jennifer

      Hello all:
      I am “Jennifer” and want to thank everyone profusely for your concern and heart-felt advice. And for sharing your own experiences. When I use the term “on the fence” it also means do I keep trying to improve this marriage or just keep things “pleasant” but work on emotionally detaching and get a life. I have improved my outlook lately in that I am pursuing activities that don’t involve my H but that are very rewarding to me. But then I read all the stuff by Sue Johnson about how we humans are wired for attachment and how sick we can become if our primary attachment is severed. Yes, my H did horrible things in the past. Yes, I still trigger. Yes, he’s still not perfect in that sometimes the defensiveness sets in b4 he can settle it down and realize I’m in pain and not attacking him. But as time goes by, he seems to be getting more and more mature and empathetic. He hasn’t had any women in a decade- I really don’t think so bc we’re both retired now and I know where he is practically 24/7. I was particularly interested in “Recovering”s story- you said your wife is the most extraordinary person you know. That’s exactly what my H tells me all the time. But then I wonder if he’s just sweet talking me or if he’s become more authentic. Listening to your story, Recovering, I am hopeful that at least some spouse’s can rise above their past mind sets and become the husband they should have been all along. It’s interesting to me that you admitted your narcissism- that’s a big step for a narcissist! I think since my H is still trying and I still see improvements, we’re going to complete a therapy program together. Then in 6 months, if the roller coaster still hasn’t flattened out, I’ll have to make that hard decision. Thanks for helping me think this through. Big hugs to all!! Thank you, Doug and Linda, for posting my story, and for the tremendous work you two are doing.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Jennifer,

        I hope that this article was helpful and I hope that you feel supported by this site. (I do not know your real identity and I chose a common name; the content in your email was given to me by Doug. )

        My hope for these articles is to support the readers who are asking these tough questions and willing to put themselves out there so that others can see we are all struggling with similar things.

        I am a huge fan of Sue Johnson’s work. You are so right that humans are wired for attachment and we are wired to require supportive people around us in order to thrive. We thrive in mutually loving and connected relationships. Humans need each other and yet paradoxically, humans can be the most emotionally UNSAFE beings in this world. I will tell you that my dogs have always been more kind and emotionally safe than most humans. If we treat a dog really well and if we do so consistently, the outcome is guaranteed: we have a dog who will lay down his or her life for us. (This is especially true if we raise a dog from the time he or she is a puppy and treat our dog with consistent kindness, care, nice walks, and snuggles It’s also true for some rescue dogs.). If a human treats a dog well, the dog will do the same thing in return. This is NOT so for human beings. Knowing that makes it so hard to connect sometimes because we risk getting DEEPLY wounded and torn to pieces from the inside out. We need each other and thrive in loving relationships, yet we also can get the most hurt by a spouse. It’s really a terrible paradox.

        This is something I struggle with– the idea that the person who can provide the most fulfillment can also hurt us the most.

        Yet, if people do not have emotionally fulfilling and safe relationships, the health consequences are very real as you noted. If we cannot trust the person who we are supposed to trust the most, it can lead to a state of loneliness– even if we are not physically alone.

        I wanted to expand upon the nature of loneliness.

        From an article on the website VeryWellMind:

        “While common definitions of loneliness describe it as a state of solitude or being alone, loneliness is actually a state of mind. Loneliness causes people to feel empty, alone, and unwanted. People who are lonely often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it more difficult to form connections with other people.

        Loneliness, according to many experts, is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, if you feel alone and isolated, then that is how loneliness plays into your state of mind….

        According to research by Dr. John Cacioppo, Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor and the founder and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, co-founder of the field of social neuroscience, and one of the top loneliness experts in the U.S., loneliness is strongly connected to genetics. Other contributing factors include situational variables, such as physical isolation, moving to a new location, and divorce. The death of someone significant in a person’s life can also lead to feelings of loneliness. Additionally, it can be a symptom of a psychological disorder such as depression.

        Loneliness can also be attributed to internal factors such as low self-esteem. People who lack confidence in themselves often believe that they are unworthy of the attention or regard of other people. This can lead to isolation and chronic loneliness.

        Health Risks Associated With Loneliness
        Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health, including:

        Depression and suicide
        Cardiovascular disease and stroke
        Increased stress levels
        Decreased memory and learning
        Antisocial behavior
        Poor decision-making
        Alcoholism and drug abuse
        The progression of Alzheimer’s disease
        Altered brain function
        These are not the only areas in which loneliness takes its toll.

        “Lonely adults consume more alcohol and get less exercise than those who are not lonely. Their diet is higher in fat, their sleep is less efficient, and they report more daytime fatigue. Loneliness also disrupts the regulation of cellular processes deep within the body, predisposing us to premature aging.” —Dr. John Cacioppo

        Researchers have found that low levels of loneliness are associated with marriage, higher incomes, and higher educational status. High levels of loneliness are associated with physical health symptoms, living alone, small social networks, and low-quality social relationships.

        Researchers also suggest that loneliness is becoming more common in the United States. Since 1985, the number of people in the U.S. with no close friends has tripled. The rise of the internet and ironically, social media, are partially to blame.

        Experts believe that it is not the quantity of social interaction that combats loneliness, but it’s the QUALITY. Having just three or four close friends is enough to ward off loneliness and reduce the negative health consequences associated with this state of mind.”

        There is also research being done regarding attachment style and infidelity. The following is from a clinical study:

        “Although marital relationships can be the source of some of life’s most enjoyable experiences, they are also the source of one of life’s most painful experiences—infidelity. Estimates suggest that over 25% of married men and 20% of married women engage in extra-marital sex over the course of their relationships (Atkins, Baucom, & Jacobson, 2001; Greeley, 1994; Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, & Michaels, 1994; Wiederman, 1997). Such infidelities can have serious negative consequences for those involved. Not only may infidelity lead to relationship distress and thus decreased relationship satisfaction in both partners (Sănchez Sosa, Hernández Guzmán, & Romero, 1997; Spanier & Margolis, 1983), it is also a strong predictor of divorce (Amato & Rogers, 1997; Betzig, 1989). Further, the victims and perpetrators of infidelity also frequently experience negative intrapersonal outcomes, such as decreased self-esteem (Shackelford, 2001), increased risk of mental health problems (e.g., Allen et al., 2005; Cano & O’Leary, 2000), guilt (Spanier & Margolis, 1983), and depression (Beach, Jouriles, & O’Leary, 1985). Identifying psychological characteristics that may be associated with a risk of perpetrating infidelity may help interventions to better target such individuals.

        Attachment theory (e.g., Mikulincer & Shaver, 2003) provides one useful framework for addressing this goal. According to that theory, intimates develop mental representations of the availability of close others that lead to strong cognitive and behavioral patterns of responding to those others. Whereas those who develop a secure attachment style tend to believe close others are available to them and behave accordingly, those who develop an insecure attachment style, i.e., attachment anxiety or attachment avoidance, tend to believe close others are less available to them and behave accordingly. Intimates who develop high levels of attachment anxiety are uncertain of the availability of close others and cope by seeking reassurance from and clinging to the partner (Brennan & Shaver, 1995; Feeney & Noller, 1990). Intimates who develop high levels of attachment avoidance, in contrast, doubt the availability of close others and cope by avoiding behaviors that promote intimacy (Brennan & Shaver, 1995; Campbell, Simpson, Kashy, & Rholes, 2001; Pistole, 1993; Simpson, Rholes, & Nelligan, 1992; Gentzler & Kerns, 2004).

        Both types of insecurity may be associated with marital infidelity. Individuals high in attachment anxiety tend to feel that their needs for intimacy are not being met in their current relationships (for review, see Shaver & Mikulincer, in press) and use sex to meet their unmet needs (Birnbaum, Reis, Mikulincer, Gillath, & Orpaz, 2006). Accordingly, they may be more likely than individuals low in attachment anxiety to seek intimacy with another partner through infidelity. Individuals high in attachment avoidance tend to be chronically less committed to their relationships (DeWall et al., 2011) and have more permissive sexual attitudes (Brennan & Shaver, 1995; Gentzler & Kerns, 2004; Hazan, Zeifman, & Middleton, 1994). Given that both tendencies are associated with infidelity (Drigotas, Safstrom, & Gentilia, 1999; Smith, 1994), avoidantly-attached individuals may be more likely to engage in infidelity as well.”

        Jennifer, I am glad that you are going into a therapy program with your husband and since you are both retired, I DO have hope for your relationship. If you can be assured that he is NOT cheating, that is a big step. If he is developing more empathy, that is also a big step.

        If you still experience trauma, you can seek out an EMDR therapist. Also, contrary to what people think about traumatic experiences, we need to expose ourselves to our feelings around traumatic experiences to heal. We can also build new neural networks by doing so. If your husband has NOT had another woman for 10 years and if he is developing more empathy, you can give your story a happy ending. If we re-affirm that we are working toward a happy ending, our brains start to re-wire. Now, it’s a LOT more complex than that and I am trained in helping people re-train and re-write those negative neural networks. It’s a slow process if it is to be done well, but it reduces triggers and helps bring people back to themselves by assimilating the trauma and putting back together the pieces that a person lost in themselves after a trauma. Hopefully you can find a therapist in your area who is trained in treating trauma.

        Please let me know if my article was helpful to you and if you have any more questions. I certainly hope that my article helped and did not harm you in any way. Making anyone feel worse is NOT what I want to do.

        Thanks,
        Sarah

        • Jennifer

          Sarah:
          First, I would like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to address my rather complex situation. It’s clear you have both the professional and life experience background to have gained much insight into betrayal trauma! It’s all been helpful, but the one sentence about hope (since it’s been 10 years and since we’re retired and together most of the day) I think helped the most. I actually felt a little surge of hope reading it- a new neuron forming, perhaps? As they say the journey of 1000 miles begins w the first step:-). I found a website recently (I thought I knew them all) Bloom? Forget the whole name but it’s about betrayal trauma. They have a therapist cert. program and told me 2 therapists will be setting up shop in my area soon. I am on their list. I think one reason this is taking me so long (there are many) is that well-meaning “marriage counselors” focused on things like “there are always 2 sides – couples just may differ in their perspectives and you need to listen respectfully to each other.” Bla bla bla. Like 3 way hook-ups and secret affairs were just different perspectives????! I needed trauma therapy big time and it was not available (except for some neurofeedback I received – the psychologist who analyzed my brain waves asked me if I had ever had head trauma. When I asked does emotional trauma count? He said absolutely. Apparently, I had an abundance of delta- in other words, my brain was literally shutting down. Yikes. Neurofeedback helped somewhat).
          Anyway, you are a wealth of info and support and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. ❤Wish we could chat over a cup of coffee and I could compensate you for your time! All the best.
          “Jennifer”

          • Sarah P.

            Hello Jennifer,

            Thank you so much for your input about your experience. Would love to chat over a cup of coffee. I don’t know if there are online programs that allow multiple video chats at a time, but it would be fun to have a coffee hour where everyone gets their favorite coffee and shows up in a live chat screen to ask and answer questions and say “hello” to one another. That way people wouldn’t be limited by geography and could match faces to screen names.

            I am familiar with the neuro-feedback method that you describe. I am very grateful that the psychologist who administered neuro-feedback to you was aware that emotional trauma changes the brain in similar ways to physical head trauma. The psychologist sounds ahead of the times because many professionals are NOT aware of this. You certainly went to the right person because they validated that what you experienced is equivalent to physical head trauma. And emotional trauma IS equivalent to physical brain trauma. All of the research coming out shows that emotional trauma causes the same changes to the brain as someone who was hit on the head. It’s measurable, it can be seen on PET scans, which are the “platinum standard” used to measure physical and psychological damage to the brain. They are more thorough that CT scans and provide more data.

            Yes, a surge of hope is a new neuron forming! I checked out the Bloom website and they appear to know the science of emotional trauma. I am curious about their concrete treatment methods. I have been studying for a very long time what it takes to change the brain and have developed a concrete way to do it. If you are on the email list for this site, Doug will e sending out information about this soon and provide some links to blog posts I have written about this.

            I do see hope for your situation. The most important part is that you have concrete assurance that your husband hasn’t been seeing others. If you desire to stay in a marriage and heal, the healing CANNOT start until a cheater gives up all affairs and then the cheater must also come around to empathizing with your point of view and he must also take the blame for his activities. If someone is able to do that, then healing can take place.

            You are not in such dire straights as I had imagined since your husband has done his part and since you have found some folks in your area who treat betrayal trauma. That combination should put your marriage back on track. (Hooray!)

            One word of caution though: please ensure that your husband continues to have insight and be reflective about his part on this mess. I think he also needs to get therapy. Only a very broken person would do what he did and he needs to sort out within a therapist.

            Big hugs!!
            Sarah

    • WhoKnows

      Jennifer, you are doing so well amid all the challenges, I really want to thank you for sharing your experience and I as one Betrayed Spouse really benefit from what you shared and the strength you’ve demonstrated.

      You hit the nail on the head when you say “When I use the term “on the fence” it also means do I keep trying to improve this marriage or just keep things “pleasant” but work on emotionally detaching and get a life.” This is what I have been struggling with too. But gradually I’m starting to realize that these two things might not be contradictory, that getting my own life without H maybe the best way to improve the marriage. Of course you get your life and detach more than what you are used to not out of spite or resentment, but with a neutral mindset. I can see for myself that my fear is that if I stop working at the marriage and building that attachment then my H is going to drop the ball. But maybe just as with my kids, I need to believe more in his (their) abilities and let them run the show and see how it turns out. If it turns out he does drop the ball, then I would choose to leave and there I’d stop the fence sitting. But maybe he needs the space in order to pick up the ball, just maybe. As his old self, this would not happen for sure, but as he claimed he wants to change, he will be given the chance to prove it.

      I don’t know if I have the right idea. Would welcome all your comments.

    • Jennifer

      Yes, I understand- sometimes I think I have “taught” my H to be passive as I have felt too desperate when I feel we’re not working on the relationship and can’t help but approach him and be the one to initiate. I was working on “nicely” detaching for a few weeks and it was going well- then we went on a 4 day trip and for some reason I felt like a caged animal (you mean I have to interact with this man 24/7 for four days?? Augggh!) He was so puzzled- tried to reassure me that we could have fun and relax without great expectations. But I was glad to get home. Sad. Funny thing- my son asked us do how was the trip and my H said “Fantastic!” Sometimes I swear we live in parallel universes – lol! Thanks for sharing- sending all good thoughts and wishes!

    • Hopeful

      Reading the comments from the wayward husbands mirrors what my husband said also. It never had anything to do with me and he knew what he was doing was wrong and would cause issues. He said that made it that much worse doing this to the one person you love most in the world. He would have cheated on anyone since it had nothing to do with me. He regretted that he asked me to marry him that I should have ended up with someone “better”. Based on statistics there are no guarantees.

      I also agree that there has to be a large effort spent as the betrayed spouse on what we want/need and investing in ourselves. It can come in many forms some more independent. During the major recovery phase and even now my husband’s main goal is that I am happy. He is happiest when I am happy. One thing that goes back to his childhood is he never thought about anyone else and was very self centered in all aspects of his life. He has since worked hard and it still takes effort to not only think of himself when he makes decisions. He also would make decisions on impulse and regret them. He takes more time and considers all factors including others. To me this is how I was raised and it is second nature. But for him it has taken work. He says it is easy but he can slip back into the old habit/how he was raised.

      This is complicated. I think in the end as the betrayed you need to get the support necessary to make the decision of what you want to do with your life and relationships. Then create a plan from there. As the wayward you need to decide if you are willing to stay and put in the effort. Recovery is not easy. And I thought it would be harder for me, but I was wrong. It has been harder for my husband. When you are the wayward you have to confront a lot more and change a lot more based on how you have lived your life. At least in our case I saw his issues crossed over to all relationships. This was not just “I will never cheat ever again” promise. But no I wanted to have the kind of marriage and relationship I decided on . It was not worth staying if that could not be possible. And through all of this my husband was/is very successful career wise, financially and has tons of friends. He now lists his top priority to be transparent and authentic and to be the best husband and father. He is doing all of that on a daily basis.

    • Sarah P.

      Hello Recovering,

      Thank you for sharing your experience with covert incest and infidelity. Covert incest is a well-researched topic and a very painful experience for adult victims. I certainly do not undermine the havoc covert incest wreaks on the adult victim. The havoc that it wreaks in the life of both child and adult victims is MONUMENTAL.

      What is covert incest? Here is an addended article by Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S about “Understanding Covert Incest: An Interview with Kenneth Adams.” (Doug and I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Weiss about infidelity and that interview is in our member’s area.) Here is what Robert says:

      “Over the years, my psychotherapeutic work has been heavily influenced by several groundbreaking clinicians, one of whom is Dr. Kenneth Adams. Specifically, his books Silently Seduced: When Parents Make Their Children Partners and When He’s Married to Mom: How to Help Mother-Enmeshed Men Open Their Hearts to True Love and Commitment have furthered my understanding of intimacy disorders, in particular the ways in which early-life covert incest often creates a later-life inability to intimately attach in healthy ways — a phenomenon I’ve witnessed in a shockingly large percentage of my impulsively and/or compulsively sexual clients. I recently had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Adams about his pioneering work, and I am happy to share excerpts of our conversation with you here.

      In the simplest terms, what is covert incest?

      Covert incest describes a relationship between a parent and child in which the child feels more like a romantic partner. Typically the parent is motivated by the loneliness and emptiness of a troubled marriage, so she (or he) turns the child into a surrogate partner. There is not necessarily any kind of overt sexual touching, but the relationship feels too close for comfort to the child. The boundaries are such that there is an incestuous feeling. The child feels used and trapped, the same as with overt incest.

      In Silently Seduced, you use the word “icky” to describe how covert incest feels. When I first read that, may years ago, I said, “Oh my God, he totally gets this.”

      Yes, it just feels like it’s too close. The child thinks, “I shouldn’t be sitting here watching soap operas with you, mom, while you tell me about your sexual frustration with dad,” and so forth. Or there is sexualized commenting on the child’s physical development. Or mom takes her son to the movies and tells him she has the handsomest date there. However it unfolds, it feels icky.

      Later on, covert incest victims tend to continue functioning in the role of a surrogate partner where they’re overly enmeshed with the parent, over involved as a caretaker, even though they may have long forgotten the icky part that was present early on – usually during adolescence. As adults, instead of feeling icky they might just feel frustrated, angry, obligated, and way too involved. This type of enmeshment is very common in terms of the adult-life characteristics. Basically, enmeshment describes the nature of the ongoing relationship; covert incest defines the earlier sexual inappropriateness. Beyond enmeshment, what other later-life manifestations do you see? For instance, in the foreword to Silently Seduced Pat Carnes writes, “Loving a person but not being able to be sexual with that partner is a great irony when sex is easy with anonymous or unavailable partners.” Basically, what I see with men, and women too, as a result of covert incest is that they never quite feel free to be who they are. Because a parent has caused them to feel obligated, burdened, and overly responsible — with a sexual element underneath that — their relationships elsewhere are affected. They meet someone and they think, “I don’t want to be with you if you burden me.” Sometimes they become sexually shut down with their long-term partner because the relationship feels so burdensome. They can’t enjoy it or be spontaneous with it anymore. It starts to feel icky to them, just like their unhealthy, overly enmeshed relationship with mom or dad. So they’re drawn to sex where there’s no commitment and there’s no obligation. Sometimes they don’t even want to know the other person’s name. The more anonymous it is, the less they know about the other person, the better. For example, guys who experienced covert incest with mom might struggle to maintain an erection with their wife or a serious girlfriend, but with a stranger they don’t have that problem because they don’t feel burdened and the sex doesn’t feel icky. I’ll never forget one client I worked with. He talked about all the women in his life and he said that there were at least a few ships that he let pass by because he felt like he had to take care of his mother instead, and he started crying when he was talking about that. He desperately wanted to connect with those women in an intimate way but he couldn’t. Here he was, a 40 or 50-year-old man, handsome and successful, but he couldn’t commit to a romantic relationship no matter what. He just wasn’t able to take advantage of situations that were in his best interest.”

      Yes, covert incest is very real and it affects every aspect of a person’s psychology as well as how they show up in relationships. It doesn’t matter if the covert incest is mother to son OR father to daughter. It is still profoundly damaging.

      I know that some psychologists don’t take covert incest as seriously as I do. Some think it’s either an excuse to behave badly or a phenomenon that has been blown out of proportion. It is NOT an excuse and it has NOT been blown out of proportion. Covert incest creates a profound pathology in the victim who experiences it and this pathology is formed during childhood. It creates attachment disorders that damage relationships later in life. This usually translates to a victim having an inability to commit and get married OR it translates to a married person seeking out extra-marital sex with people who they will never be able to get close to.

      Does this give someone an excuse to cheat?

      Of course not!

      Cheating is a choice and a journey of opening many doors that should have been left closed. Cheating is a process and a series of intentional acts and decisions on the part of the unfaithful spouse. (Everyone wave to the hypocrite/author David Brooks; the expert on opening all the doors that should have been left CLOSED!!)

      While covert incest causes attachment disorders, an individual is still governed by free will. Someone with an attachment disorder still must take the steps necessary to become an adulterer in their marriage.

      A victim of covert incest can just as easily make healthy choices, such as seeking therapy so that they can save their marriage. Covert incest does not cause a person to cheat, even if they have a terrible time having emotionally intimate relationships.

      Now, back to you, Recovering. I am NOT here to shame you. I have a tremendous amount of compassion for what you have gone through with your mother. You were an innocent, little boy and you were victimized by a mother who knew better! (Big hugs to you!!!) I am so very sorry for what you have gone through.

      As a mother of sons, I cannot even imagine how a mother could use her son as a surrogate spouse. I would rather be profoundly depressed and alone than to cause such harm to my children. I am there to guide them. I am there so that they can lean on me for support and unconditional love and NOT the other way around.

      In cases of covert incest, I believe that an adult child MUST “divorce” a parent and seek therapy with an individual who specializes in treating covert incest and the trauma it causes. I believe that a therapist must help an adult child repair the broken attachments and help that person develop a healthy attachment to their spouse, which includes a deep and meaningful sexual relationship as well as a deep and meaningful loving relationship with their spouse.

      I don’t want to be a metaphorical fishing boat that drags the muck up from your past. But, does any of this resonate with you?

      Do you have any advice for female, betrayed spouses on how to get through to a husband who is in an unhealthy relationship with his mother?

      Can you tell us more about how the relationship with your mom affected you? I don’t want details on what she did. I am just asking for information about how it made you feel and how it affected you during day-to-day life.

      Thank you so much for joining the conversation. Your input is essential. It is time to open up a safe dialogue between betrayed spouses and the wayward spouses of the world who have insight into their behavior and realize that a betrayed spouse did not cause a wayward spouse to cheat. Hopefully you can answer some more questions for the betrayed spouses here. I think it is a lot easier for an anonymous betrayed spouse to dialogue with an anonymous wayward spouse because they will be able to listen to each other without becoming massively triggered. Of course, triggers will be there, but they won’t be as terrible because a betrayed is not talking to the person who hurt them and a wayward spouse is not talking to the person they hurt. That removes some of the emotional charge of these conversations and helps us get to the bottom of what is really going on.

      Thanks again for joining us.

      Sarah

      • Hopeful

        Sarah, Thanks for that explanation. It is hard to understand how mental health professionals do not acknowledge this with the seriousness it requires. It is hard to comprehend. I can see where experiencing this would cause ripple effects throughout someone’s entire life. I cannot imagine. When you are most vulnerable and coming from the person you trust the most. It would be hard to have healthy relationships moving forward.

        Also, I agree that is positive to have wayward and betrayed spouses sharing their thoughts here. From my perspective it is the only way to learn, understand and move forward.

        Thank you for all you do Sarah! I hope you are doing well and your family too.

        • Sarah P.

          Hi Hopeful,
          I agree. It is hard to understand why mental health professionals don’t take it seriously. Covert incest does tremendous damage to the victim. Like you said.. the person you are supposed to trust most.

          Something major just occurred to me. Because of the nature of the work I do, I research these topics all day, but I also speak with people from all walks of life. Having access to what REALLY goes on actually allows me to see patterns. There is a pattern that has started to emerge between reading the research, reading books on this topic, and speaking with people.

          Here is what I see: many people who cheat on their spouses have covertly incestuous relationships with their parents.

          What’s the connection: the person you are supposed to trust the most betrays you. A child who has experienced covert incest experiences the worst betrayal at the hands the person who is supposed to protect. This person will grow up to be an adult who has internalized the idea that the people you are supposed to trust the most will betray you.

          When adult victims of covert incest have affairs, it will be normal on a subconscious level because they got the message that the people closest to each other betray each other.

          Covert incest can also causes some adults to seek out anonymous sex.

          Is this an excuse? NOPE. People need to take ownership for their concrete actions.

          But, it is an important connection to make for the betrayed spouses harmed by adult victims of covert incest.

          Thank you for asking about my family ..

          My family is keeping on keeping on. My oldest is finally in a place where he is no longer suicidal. I had to pull him from school due to bullying and that bullying made him suicidal. I know some other issues also made him suicidal, but I think it was mostly the bullying at school. I have on and off issues due to a rare, genetic disease called porphyria. So some days I am in the comments more than others. Still, helping people recover from infidelity and regain their self-worth remains my passion.

          How is your family doing?

          • Hopeful

            Sarah,

            I am so sorry to hear all of the challenges. It is not easy managing our own lives much less being parents. Then add parents who are aging etc. Your children and family are so lucky to have you. You have so much knowledge, grit and determination. But what stands out the most is how kind and caring you are.

            We are plugging along together making through the daily challenges. I try to focus on the positive and the fact that we are in this together. I am thankful discovery happened when it did so I have a partner/relationship that is supportive no matter what.

            Hang in there and as always thank you for all you do for this site!

            • Sarah P.

              Hello Hopeful,

              Your words of appreciation mean the world to me. Writing for this site is an absolute labor of love and I always strive to provide a safe haven for those who are going through what is likely the most painful event they have ever faced.

              I keep coming to the conclusion that unless a person has been cheated on by their spouse, they will not be able to understand the pain of someone who has been cheated on by their spouse/life partner etc. People who have not been cheated on won’t be able to understand that people don’t magically heal a week after D-Day. I want this website to be a lifeline to every man and woman out there who has been betrayed. I don’t keep a 9-5 practice because I have a genetic illness (porphyria) that has worsened, and two kids, but also because I would NOT be able to reach large volumes of people who need the information I place on this site and they can access this information at any time of day, from anywhere in the world. This is how the internet is supposed to be utilized: as a tool to help others and as a way to spread wisdom. (Not a place full of trolls and porn websites.) So, working on this site is even more important because it is the opposite of those negative things that have taken over the internet.

              I do see people in-person by request, but I don’t keep a regular 9-5 practice because what I know about infidelity needs to be shared with the entire world. Plus, no one never knows when a trigger will come in their own life. If someone is triggered, they can come here and not wait another week to see their regular therapist.

              Another concerning thing…

              I have noticed that in the past two years, there has been a massive moral decline in this country. I have noticed many middle-aged men no longer have an ounce of shame when they leave their wife of 30+ years for someone half their age. This has ALWAYS happened.. However, there appears to be a newfound boldness and eerie confidence in people who throw their spouse of decades away. (Women can do this too, but this is a trend more common in men– the mid-life crisis affair). Even a couple of years ago, a man who did this would still experience some kind of social shaming such as losing good friends. Now, when a man does it, he does it with such surety and does not even pretend to be the least bit remorseful about it. He holds his head high while a girl young enough to be his daughter is displayed on his arm (or lap).

              This makes the work I do here more relevant than ever. Writing for this site also helps me sleep better because infidelity makes me so angry and always has. Why? While I cannot control if a person cheats and if that person callously breaks up their family, what I can control is my response and I can help victims. Therefore, I write for all the betrayed spouses out there so they can find a way out of the darkness that they never saw coming and that they did not even deserve. I can provide an antidote to truly innocent victims who have had their lives turned upside down. No one can cause another person to cheat and I am determined to make the myth that you can cause a person to cheat to be gone forever.

              I am so grateful to Doug and Linda for letting me be a contributor here as well. I have years worth of writing inside of me, quite literally. I am so happy to be able to write and share my ideas and only hope these ideas bless the lives of others. I truly care about every, single person who reads this site even if I am not aware of them. I am aware they are there, even if they don’t comment. Each night as I am falling asleep, I send out a massive prayer or “intention” to the world and ask that the eyes of those who cheated be opened, that these cheaters will become humbled, and that they will have an awakening that allows them to restore their families. I also pray that readers seek the guidance they need to live one day at a time and for the right people to enter their lives when they are having particularly bad days. I am aware everyone here is more than a screen name. There are hurting human beings who come here and I want to ensure that I always keep that in mind. We are all real people with real lives and real problems. I keep the humanity of others in mind at all times, or I try to.

              Thank you for noticing my kindness. It has always been a way of life for me (or so my parents have always said. They said I was born being kind and gentle). However, I do not always accomplish it because I am human. My biggest sore point is infidelity (no way!!!) and how it affects the children and the betrayed spouses of the world. It brings out righteous anger in me. Unfortunately, infidelity will never stop, just like crime will never stop. Infidelity is a crime unto itself. I live to a be a beacon of light to others and to lead them out of the abyss that is being betrayed by the person who is supposed to love them the most. I don’t always succeed and instead I turn into a beacon of satire and irony. I think it might be possible though to be a beacon of light even if there is sometimes a satirical edge. Maybe?

              Who knows!

              Any way, thank you for your appreciation. The world in general has seemed to have reached a tipping point where more evil is done than good. I try to be a force for good, even if I don’t succeed.

              Hope all is well with you and your marriage and family. You too are a wonderful person and your husband and children are so very fortunate to have you. I have a gut feeling that your husband has really started to realize this truth about you being such a gem. I feel that he is realizing it on a truly profound level; not just intellectually. He understands at a soul level, rather than just in a way that is matter-of-fact. Hooray!!

              :-)))

              Hugs,
              Sarah

    • Soul mate

      Greetings Everyone,
      I have to say that this blog post and its resulting comments couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

      Sarah P. I will write to you using Doug & Linda’s email address if you don’t mind as I need to keep something’s private out of respect for my husband. Or do you have an email address you prefer?

      I have a very perplexing question to ask and I think you would be able to shine a bit of light on it

      Thanks and God Bless!

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Soulmate,
        I always take confidential questions and you can email me at:
        sarah.emotionalaffair.org@gmail.com

        You can also CC: Doug and Linda if you like, that way you have three people thinking about what is going on.

        Also, as a reminder, the only reason a reader email made it into the blog was because our reader was kind enough to offer her question as a potential blog post. Thank you, “Jennifer” for allowing us to offer advice and for others to see many betrayed spouses deal with the same thing.

        I will look for your email, Soulmate.

        God Bless,
        Sarah

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