Stop Making Excuses for Infidelity: It’s Not in Your Biology; It’s a Decision

making excuses for infidelity

By Sarah P.

Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.” 
― Barbara De Angelis

First and foremost, this week’s post is part rant. The information in it is still valid, but if you are either sarcasm or irony adverse, then you probably will not like this one. You see, some days, I am more angered than usual by all of selfishly based infidelity in the world. So, here is my word of warning. If you get easily discouraged or offended by the worst elements in society, please skip this blog post.

For the men out there, the first part of this blog post discusses the viewpoint of two men who defend (or used to defend) infidelity as part of biology. As a result, I deconstruct some of their arguments quite aggressively. However, I am not referring to all men when I am deconstructing their arguments. So please realize I am not condemning men in general.

Let’s dive in…

About six months ago, the Huffington Post published an article by sociologist Eric Anderson. He boldly asserted that cheating is in a man’s biology and that the male endocrine system designed men to cheat. Therefore, he proclaims that male infidelity is a normal function of male biology and draws conclusions about the modern marriage. He said that alternative arrangements such as open marriages or swinging will benefit families by keeping them together.

I think this one of the most humorous pro-infidelity theories that I have come across in a long time. Here is one of the ideas in the article, in that author’s words:

“Men are endocrinologically designed to cheat,” he says. “Monogamy is not the normal expectation across the world — monogamy never has been a normal expectation across the world. It is a new invention.” (1)

Ladies of the world, please don’t stand between your husband’s endocrine system and what it tells his nether regions to do. His endocrine system is innocent, even if the man himself is caught with his pants down.

Yawn. I have heard variations of this argument one too may times, so I wanted to look at it in detail.

What is the Endocrine System?

Let’s start by looking at the actual function of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones. These hormones regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood. Where does it all start?

When a baby is in the womb, the fetus’s form always begins as a female body and brain. In other words, a woman is the pro-type human and not the other way around, as the Bible has said. At one point, every human started out as female. Early on in development, testosterone acts on a (XY) fetus to create a male baby with a male brain and male parts. After gender is assigned, appropriate hormonal levels cause children, whether male or female, to develop. No doubt the endocrine system is a very powerful thing and a control center of sorts.

So, if we are to name the endocrine system as a culprit, we will likely target testosterone as the offending hormone. We know that testosterone causes sexual desire and aggression. (Even women produce testosterone and women can also experience lowered or increased testosterone.) Testosterone controls sexual drive and so it would have to follow that testosterone causes men to cheat.

Let’s think about that for a moment. Even though testosterone causes sexual desire, sexual desire does not have the final say. We are forgetting the most important control center of all: the brain.

Therefore, we come to a crossroad.

If the endocrine system has designed a man to cheat, we still cannot take the brain out of the equation. The endocrine system does not control behavior or the body—the brain does.

When presented with sexual desire, each person must make a choice to act. There is always a concrete decision involved—to act or not to act. So, even if the endocrine designed men to cheat, there is still a higher function to over-ride it. The endocrine system couldn’t act at all without a brain to help keep the body running and ‘acting.’

caught-cheating

What’s Evolution Got to Do With It?

Let’s look at another idea, assuming the endocrine system designed someone to cheat and consider why it evolved to do so. Why would it occur since the so-called purpose of evolution is to provide new traits that help man adapt better to his environment?

Some evolutionary biologists like to claim that men were designed to ‘spread seed’ indiscriminately. (Their phrase, not mine.) This may have helped the early cave men build up the human population. Fair enough. But, archeological finds of early man showed that he experienced many periods of famine. ‘Seeding’ women when starvation was present would not have been a good evolutionary move. In fact, many mammals in the wild have lower reproduction rates during times of famine. Human females cannot conceive when their body fat drops below a certain point. (It’s nature’s built in mechanism to ensure that times of famine do not become even more taxing on the existing population.)

Let’s look at another factor that seems to conflict with the notion of men being mere inseminators.

In the past, many women died in childbirth. How would that be of advantage to a species when there is no one around to nurse or care for the children? That makes no sense to me.

On the other hand, time and again we have found the most successful social construct has been one man + one woman and several children between them. This configuration has allowed the species to develop great civilizations. (Then, there is every major religion on the planet. Even the ancient men who wrote the Torah and the Bible knew that society was most productive and stable when there were monogamous pairings and families.)

Let’s also talk about how indiscriminate insemination impacts men as a whole. If every man on the planet is having relationships with many different women, then no man will know his off-spring. (These days we have genetic tests, but for hundreds of thousands of years, we did not.)

In monogamy, men knew that their children were theirs. This also ensured that women had someone invested in their children. This is speaking purely from the standpoint of evolution.

There is a good argument that people evolved specifically to pair bond precisely because it is best for our species. But, those arguments are for another time.

What About the Psychological Arguments?

Then, there are the psychological arguments against indiscriminate seeding. Most people naturally pair bond even though we are no longer in a society that requires it.

I watched an Australian series a couple of years ago that followed several couples, over a period of time, who were in open marriages.

It was painful to watch one of the wives bring home a male lover, introduce him to her husband, and then take her lover to the marital bed for the night, while her husband sat alone in the living room. Also, the women actually fared better in getting partners outside of the marriage than the men did.

So on and on it went and everyone lived happily ever after in their open marriages.

Just kidding.

What really happened was that all of the couples in open marriages broke up. Each person found other partners with whom they could have a monogamous pair bond. That’s right, all of those folks who thought they could do the open marriage thing went back to monogamy with their proverbial tails between their legs. Their pride and surety caused them to be ashamed when they realized the heartache involved in such open arrangements.

But, I am not surprised. If one reads history from the past several centuries, there was always someone who argued that open marriages were the superior choice.  In the 1600’s there were the libertines in Europe and they were associated with sexual debauchery and open relationships. But, what was I thinking– we can go all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia. Pagan religion practiced all kinds of violence and debauchery as part of their religious rights. Various pagan religions mentioned in the Bible also rose and fell due to their extreme promiscuity. There is nothing new under the sun.

These arguments for open relationships are as old as humanity itself. But, if we truly were a non-monogamous species, why has organized and civil society always gone back to monogamy? It is because if one wants an organized, civil, and advancing society, monogamy must always be present because it creates stability.

So, even if men are designed to be mindless and indiscriminate spreaders, men in the end are not animals. Humans have the ability to reason, plan for the future, and understand cause and affect.

In the end, we have not evolved to have stable societies and polyamory at the same time. Enough with the cheating. Everyone on God’s green earth will face temptation many times in their lives. People can be tempted to steal things, tempted to overeat, tempted to spouse poach etc. But, all of these actions have built in consequences. If someone stole a car and then showed up in court and plead that this was a natural consequence of his biology, people would just laugh and throw him in jail anyway.

an emotional affair

The Most Recent Origins of Conquest and Polyamory

Whenever I think of people making excuses for infidelity, I think of the mindset that usually sets the stage for later infidelity in marriage: PUA culture. PUA stands for pick-up artist. There are thousands of blogs that teach men to use whatever immoral tactic it takes to lure women into bed. PUA blogs teach the art of seduction to men and their end goal is to bed as many women as possible—and the more women, the better the pick-up artist. In the minds of these people who purport this lifestyle, bedding multiple women is what defines the essence of masculinity.

But, back to my point. The “Bible” of PUA blogs is comprised of unproved notions of evolutionary psychology and biology. The foundational thinking of PUA culture is that: 1) Men are made to be extremely promiscuous, 2) Men are made to spread their seed with as many women as possible, and 3) Men are made to spread their seed with women between the ages of 18-22, even when said men are over 70-years-old. 4) Women over 30 have “hit the wall,” as they say.

The recent founder of PUA culture is a man named Neil Strauss. Once upon a time, Strauss was a self-described ‘nerdy journalist’ who had trouble finding a date. He studied various manipulation tactics and used them to eventually bed supermodels. Some of his manipulation tactics, such as intentionally putting women down to lower their self-esteem, could certainly be considered emotionally abusive.  In fact, Neil instructed men to be the most emotionally abusive to beautiful women by putting them down more harshly than other women.

Finally, once a woman’s affection had been won, Neil taught men how to ‘punish’ women. Punishing women was intended to get rid of behavior a man did not like (in his woman) and instill behaviors that a man wanted to see. This reminds me of some of the abusive tactics humans have used against animals for behavioral modification.

In PUA culture, there was no talking it out with women. There was only punishing the woman by whatever method necessary to modify behavior. Neil Strauss wrote his book about this method and it almost overnight sky-rocketed him into stardom. His book was a New York Times best-seller and Neil soon became the man to whom many single men looked up to.  In general, men who used his tactics wanted to be in control of women, call the shots, and have as many sexual partners as possible. Neil spoke at conferences, wrote another book, obtained fame, and had (alleged) trysts with many different models.

But, a problem started in 2010 when Neil fell in love with a beautiful, Hispanic model named Ingrid. No matter how in love he was, he was not used to monogamy and found himself to be incapable of monogamy. No matter how hard Neil tried, he kept cheating on Ingrid with other women, including Ingrid’s best friend. (With friends like that, who needs enemies?) Still, he did not want to lose Ingrid, despite his terrible behavior. Ingrid said she would continue seeing him only if he were treated for sex addiction. Once in treatment and in the hands of skilled therapists, the picture became clear:

“By opening up Neil’s psyche to trained therapists for the first time, Strauss learned he had quite an assortment of mental and emotional conditions. In short order, he was diagnosed with anxiety syndrome, depressive disorder, two forms of sexual disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Out of rehab, still in some degree of turmoil, Strauss got back together with Ingrid, but managed just a fortnight together before splitting again. She started seeing other people. Strauss, meanwhile, went to visit a brain doctor who told him that [Neil had] spent so long trying to figure out how to seduce women for The Game, he might have corrupted himself permanently. There were chaotic flings with a Vegas showgirl, with a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and with a woman called Sage with whom he had an open relationship before she left him for two Mexicans. Strauss traveled to Europe to attend sex parties, and later moved to live in a free love commune in California” (1).

He and Ingrid broke up again, for good. Neil still continued therapy to understand his mind and motivations. At one point, Neil had an epiphany that he was a terribly broken person and the techniques he wrote about were unethical. Then, by happenstance, he met Ingrid again at a wedding they both attended. He slowly earned back her trust and they were married three years ago.

But, back to Neil’s sexual addiction; I wanted to present it in his words. In the end, Neil understood that he was the broken one and the things he recommended came out of brokenness. Here is an addended version of his experience in treatment from his book The Truth:

“What are you here for?” the nurse asks me.

“Cheating.”

She says nothing. I think about that word. It sounds lame. I’m in a hospital because I couldn’t say no. So I add the other reason I’m there: “And, I guess, to learn how to have a healthy relationship.”

Neil and his wife Ingrid.

Neil and his wife Ingrid.

I think of Ingrid, whose heart I broke, whose friends threatened to kill me. The nurse looks up. It is the first time she’s made eye contact. She smiles sympathetically and continues looking through my intake folder. I ask if she thinks I’m really an addict. “I’m not an addiction specialist,” she says. “But if you’re cheating on your relationship, if you’re visiting porn sites, or if you’re masturbating, that’s sex addiction.”

She then picks up a large poster board from the floor and holds it on top of the desk, facing me. There are eight huge words on it: Joy, Pain, Love, Anger, Passion, Fear, Guilt, Shame.

“This is called a check-in,” she says. “You’ll be required to check in four times a day and report which emotions you’re feeling. Which ones are you experiencing right now?”

I scan the display for crawling dread, for utter worthlessness, for total confusion, for intense regret, for rule-hating frustration. “Anger.” She types it into my file. I am now officially institutionalised. 

I feel another emotion coming on. “What’s the difference between guilt and shame?” I ask. 

“Guilt is just about your behaviour. Shame is about who you are.” 

She leads me back to the reception desk, where I see a woman with her arm in a blue fiberglass cast being led out of a nursing station: another new arrival. She has pasty skin, blue-black hair, lots of piercings and the look of a vampire. I’m instantly attracted.

From the other direction, a woman with long blond hair pouring out of a pink baseball cap saunters to the reception desk. I think what I always think, what every man always thinks: what was puberty for if not to think these thoughts? 

“What are you here for?” I ask the blonde. Her tag is blue. “Love addiction,” she replies.

Perfect. I ask if she wants to get dinner.” (1)

 

I like Neil’s story because it provides a rare glimpse into the mind of a sex-addict. I believe that whenever a new theory comes out about non-monogamy, all of the sex-addicts of the world join the cause. They know that deep down they are looking for something to validate their addiction, instead of recognizing it and going through therapy.

What is the root of infidelity?

I believe that the root of infidelity has to do with incompleteness. That is, someone who solely gets their needs met externally is not a complete person. He or she is not a whole person. Infidelity is usually born out of someone needing to fill a void within himself or herself by external experiences or validation.

An incomplete person looks to many avenues for validation—avenues such as sex, work, food, athleticism, material items, or obsession with beauty or popularity. Then, there is the shadowy side of this: addiction to alcohol, sex, food, drugs, gambling, or pornography.

Incompleteness creates insecurity, boredom, anxiety or loneliness and so a drug of choice is used to dull this effect.

Some people are so empty that they require a constant stream of validation from the opposite sex. In its mildest form, it could be a woman or man dresses in a way to get a constant stream of sexual attention from the opposite sex. In its worst form, a man or a woman has many affairs. An affair provides a constant stream of validation as well as a drug-like high. For the person who is incomplete, it is one of the most powerful ways of dulling and quieting the feeling of being unfulfilled, bored, anxious, or depressed.

Nevertheless, I would also like to mention some specific things that I believe apply to men in our culture. The things that I am going to mention are generalizations since not everyone has the same experience. On the whole, I think it is possible for men to become driven by the idea of sex “with no strings attached.”

In our society, boys and men are socialized to have three socially approved/appropriate outlets for emotions: competitive feelings such as in sports or work; anger when things are not going well, and sexuality. Since sexual desire is such a strong drive in some men, it is no wonder that when a man is feeling troubled, he naturally falls back on sex. Some men are so disconnected from their emotions that they don’t even know they are using sex to self-medicate. On the other hand, for men at least, sex is an approved outlet for emotions in our society.

I believe that our culture transmits messages that there is no room for the man who cries, the man who is needy, the man who is deeply afraid, or the man who is fragile. When a man faces depression or anxiety, he can become angry and a lot of men do. But, I believe this is a conditioned response since our cultural indicates depression is a sign of weakness. Otherwise, sex can be away to self-medicate depression. Sex with a new person is the perfect drug for some.

Women have the benefit of being able to share their emotions and talk it out with girlfriends, all day long if they wish. But, there are many women that feel incomplete and insecure. They also look to external validation because they cannot find it within. I believe that when a woman has an affair it is because she is not fulfilled. Now, it is not her husband’s job to make her a complete person; she needs to find it within herself. Her husband can only enhance what is already there.

But what about women?

A woman doesn’t have an affair because someone is truly ‘better’ than her husband. Her affair is often driven by internal personality deficits, a belief that she settled, or boredom. Sure, she might have a laundry list of all of the things her husband does or does not do. Still, if a man is a reasonable person these excuses are empty.

Some women who cheat are chasing a type of unconditional love that they did not receive from a parent. They go from partner to partner thinking that their current partner will fill the emotional void. But, he is only a distraction until that empty feeling overtakes her. Off she goes to find the next man, believing if she looks hard enough, someone will complete her. (We can only give unconditional love to ourselves or get it from a relationship with God.)

A ‘complete’ or self-actualized person is able to meet his or her own needs within himself or herself. Sure, such a person desires companionship, but when he or she finds it, she is satisfied with it rather than looking to a new person to keep her constantly distracted. This type of person also knows how to express what he or she wants. A self-actualized person also knows how to compromise on things.

moving on after infidelity

Life Still Has a Sense of (Sick) Humor

My husband and I are surrounded by people who are coming out of their first marriages. Almost all of the marriages around us have ended due to infidelity and/or blatant spouse poaching. Sometimes I get the feeling that a good portion of society has mixed up consumerism with marriage. Instead of going to the store and buying a new pair of boots each week only to dump them at Goodwill, people go to the store, buy their favorite pair of boots, and loyally keep them for all time. On the other hand, these same people sometimes show up at work or social events and perceive items for the taking. The only problem is that these so-called items are actual people. When they take these items and dump the old item (person), then entire families and generations to come are affected.

The fall-out from such events is nothing short of emotional nuclear waste.

Families are broken apart, long-term friends take sides, and sometimes the cheater marries the other person. When this happens, the cheater and the other person have often lost long-term friends and work connections, family members, and even the good grace of neighbors. Without the old camaraderie, they find themselves lonely and seek out other couples with whom to socialize.

Often, they approach either my husband or myself and suggest we get together as couples. Or, at least they used to approach of both us, but I am certain, as of late, that I have developed a less-tolerant vibe around these folks. These days they approach my husband  and suggest a couple’s dinner. Anytime I hear another dinner invitation from affair partners, I cannot help but realize the collective universe has a tremendously ironic sense of humor. Why are these people being sent to us? I am the least tolerant person out there in terms of affairs.

I sat through one of these dinners once, long before writing about infidelity. During that one dinner, I could not help but notice the whole evening was tense. I did not know at the time that the relationship of the other couple was due to infidelity until a week after we all had dinner. But, I remember at the time thinking the two were very stiff and unsure in their interactions with us.

The ‘girlfriend’ of the man kept joking about how her Southern Baptist mother did not like her ‘living in sin’ and giving knowing glances to her partner that seemed to say, “where is the ring, huh?” They talked very little about family, children, or how they met. The evening got more awkward when the woman would, without warning or context, jump on her partner’s lap and giggle. I guess this is what makes a good partnership—random moments punctuated with a fit of giggling followed by a wife jumping on her husband’s lap. The marriage books have been wrong all along…

So, a week after the dinner, my husband and I were still talking about the awkwardness and erratic behavior of the couple, especially the man’s girlfriend. Later that week, my husband found out through the grapevine what it was about. The couple, who were a doctor and a nurse, met at work and carried on quite an affair. The nurse gave the doctor the ultimatum and the doctor started physically beating his own wife senseless because of his misplaced anger. There was even a police report on the guy. But, he was wealthy enough and his attorney smoothed it over.

He divorced his wife, in a very bitter battle, and moved in with said nurse. Yes, the nurse was so stupid that after it all, she still wanted to live with a man who battered his wife when things were not going his way. It really says a lot about the women who seek to break up marriages and don’t back down. They always think they are different. I am just waiting for the day when the nurse turns up with a black eye that her make-up cannot cover. That was the one and only time (to my knowledge) that I have had dinner with a couple who got together as a result of spouse poaching.

Call me judgmental, but I just cannot bear sitting through dinner with these affair partners that are looking for new best friends. Part of this is because of what I went through with my ex, but the other part of it is that I have a hard time having relationships with people whom I neither respect nor trust. Time is precious and I cannot abide wasting my free time on these folks.

Plus, I will admit these couples are a major trigger for me. If couples like these get together, they are so walled off in denial and bliss that they do not care about the lives they wrecked around them. Frankly, their denial and bliss disgusts me.

To tell you the truth, a big part of me does not want these people to find happiness together. Luckily, statistics show that most of them do not ultimately find happiness together, but I still don’t like to be around them because of what it does to me. Any time I am exposed to such people in real life, my thoughts start taking a dark turn. I start thinking thoughts like “life is not fair” or “why does it seem the bad guys come out on top?” or “Where is karma when you need it?”

So, that is my self-talk when I meet couples who got together as a result of an affair. I do not like the way their affair makes me feel and so I avoid these couples.

I was triggered again last night because my husband started talking about the newest doctor/nurse combination that met at work while both parties were married and had small children. They apparently had devastating divorces, to the other spouses, per the grapevine.

I have met the two on occasions. The nurse part of the couple is wearing a neon sign on her forehead that says “golddigger.” My woman’s intuition can see this sign as clear as day. The doctor part of the couple is wearing a neon sign that says “fool.” Yet, they both have been bending my husband’s ear, as if they have terribly guilty consciences and must justify themselves to strangers.

I will give the doctor part of the couple credit for never trashing his ex-wife. He only speaks kindly of his ex. But, the nurse part of the couple spends any free moment telling anyone who will listen what a monster her husband was. Of course, she says he was a monster, but has never named any specific or concrete behavior. (I think her ex didn’t make a doctor’s salary – and what a monstrous mistake for a man to make. Shame on him!) Yes folks, these two people are funded by your hard-earned tax dollars. Apparently, interest in sick patients comes second to poaching someone else’s spouse. So yes, these stories are huge triggers for me on many levels.

But, as always, the thing that gets under my skin the most is when affair partners rewrite the entire factual history of events. They spin stories and tell others how they were justified in doing what they did. They frame themselves as the victims of a world or family that does not understand.

No matter what their marriages were like, there were always choices. I always say that if a marriage is so bad, someone needs to get divorced before looking for a replacement. If they don’t, then they made the decision to cheat.

I say no more excuses. I don’t want to hear from wayward spouses about soulmates, or perfect partners, or justifications, or true love, or feeling lonely in their marriages. I don’t want to hear about how infidelity is biologically driven. Even if it is biologically driven, this is a moot point. A wayward spouse had entered willingly into a binding set of obligations with their betrayed spouse. The wayward spouse decided not to keep up his or her side of the bargain.

So, I don’t want to hear excuses. I just want people to sort their own stuff out and stop hurting innocents. A betrayed spouse never deserved it and a wayward spouse made a choice. It really is as simple as that.

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Sources 

(1)  Capretto, Lisa. Are Men Designed To Cheat?  From http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/are-men-designed-to-cheat_us_56cde382e4b0928f5a6dfa05

(2)  LaMont, Tom. Neil Strauss: My Thinking Was: If This Woman Is Going to be Naked with Me, Must Be Okay. It Doesn’t Last.  From https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/10/neil-strauss-the-game-book-truth

 

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54 Responses to Stop Making Excuses for Infidelity: It’s Not in Your Biology; It’s a Decision

  1. Hopeful November 8, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

    I agree in the end act like an adult and make the right decisions. If you need to separate to figure things out then do that. But at least in our case I never gave an ultimatum to get married or have kids. My husband was the one that pushed both. We never even discussed marriage before he proposed to me. I was very independent and went my own way career wise while we dated long distance. And with kids I was hesitant and he pushed for both. He had all the tools and knowledge to make better choices but he did not because of who he is. That is what I have come to face as my reality. I had always thought we were pretty similar in all ways but I now realize who we are and our character are very different. I realized he is insecure and not as confident as he always portrayed himself to be. I have always been a very content person and at ease with myself as an individual. I do not know how but I wonder if I was just born that way. I remember feeling this same way from a young age.

    A lot of your information about the root of infidelity hit home in our situation. I think a lot of the information there points to exactly why my husband did what he did. It seems so obvious reading several of those sentences. Since dday he told me some information he had never told me before. Nothing horrific but I think it is at the root of some of this. I wish I could say more but feel the explanation could identify him easily.

    I am thankful that my husband gave me reasons but never used them as excuses for his affairs. He also took full responsibility saying that none of it was my fault. It does not make any of it better but I can at least see that he understands that ultimately the responsibility for this falls 100% on him.

    • TheFirstWife November 8, 2016 at 10:20 pm #

      Ditto. Thought I married a guy that was strong and confident. Always appeared that way.

      Turns out I have character and strength. I have been truthful and faithful for 30+ years.

      He has had 2 EAs but the last was physical in that they kissed but it never went further – the OW told me that. Not sure if I believe it but doesn’t matter. He still Cheated.

      He is a coward – won’t face certain issues. Our whole time together he avoided serious topics and never spoke about himself or his feelings. Great listener and friend but never would discuss anything personal.

      He now realizes how wrong this has been for him. What it cost him and what it led to.

      He is not the person I thought he was. How odd I am the person he thought I was and still am to this day. Hopefully better in some ways.

      But an affair is not something I would ever wish on anyone. It is devastating.

      And I don’t care how many people say it has nothing to do with the BS or is not the fault of the BS, the BS is still victimized by it. And it hurts. Deeply hurts.

      Hard to reconcile the person you love with all your heart could do that to you.

      • Sarah P. November 8, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

        Hello TFW,

        As always, great comment, TFW!

        You bring up the on-going conundrum for betrayed spouses. That is, knowing the origin of the affair doesn’t lessen the victimization of the betrayed spouse and it doesn’t erase the deep pain suffered by the betrayed spouse. I don’t know if there is any reconciling this except realizing that the person you loved and continue to love with all your heart is flawed. Because of those terribly hurtful flaws in themselves, they do not consider or unable to consider the feelings of others. But, this is not an excuse for them, just an observation about why they can do the seemingly impossible.

        TFW, I am so very sorry what you have been through and all of the pain you have suffered. I cannot pretend to understand it, but I sincerely hope that you continue to heal and that you find solace in other parts of your life.

    • Butterball December 5, 2016 at 11:17 pm #

      My husband has always lacked self-confidence and that has always been clear to me. I am the one who always tries to put a positive spin on anything. I do think it is how we are born. They say happiness is 40% genetics and I think really my husband wasn’t born with the happiness gene, unfortunately for him. He even comes from an ethnic group that has the least occurrences of said gene and I come from one that has a much higher one.

  2. Sarah P. November 8, 2016 at 10:22 pm #

    Hi Hopeful,
    I have come to the conclusion that really grounded people attract those with insecurities. I can think of a few examples of this situation. It makes sense as well because two insecure people would not function well together. Someone with deep-seeded issues needs an anchor.

    You and I sound very similar too in the way we have lived our lives. If you want to email confidentially, you can email me at:
    sarah.emotionalaffair.org@gmail.com.

    Conversations via email do not go on this blog or in any materials I write. I know that Doug, Linda, and I are not interested in finding identifying details of subscribers or commenters or sharing details without express consent. So, feel free to email if you wish. I could probably fill in some missing pieces once I know more.

  3. TheFirstWife November 8, 2016 at 10:26 pm #

    Also we know it is a choice. It is just maddening when you have to listen to the “soulmate” psycho-babble and the justifications.

    I love you but not in love with you.

    There is nothing going on we are just friends.

    It doesn’t mean anything.

    Our marriage feels transactional – kids, bills, in-laws etc

    You deserve better – or you deserve someone who will love you more.

    I’m not happy.

    I hate my job/life/ etc.

    You don’t understand me – he/she does.

    All justifications to excuse the CS’ behsvior and poor choices

    • Sarah P. November 8, 2016 at 10:58 pm #

      TFW,
      Those are all things they say in the affair fog, but it does not make them any less hurtful. Unfortunately these things don’t drop out of memory once the affair is over. Has your husband ever gone back and addressed all of those statements again? Has he apologized and specifically told you they were untrue?

      Did you ever read that book called “The Script”? The things you said above remind me of the commonalities found in all affairs. All wayward spouses say they love but are not in love, use the soulmate excuse, claim the OP is a friend, etc etc. I like that book because it shows that all affairs follow the same pattern to the point it is uncanny.

      Again, I am so sorry for what you have been through. You did not deserve it and I am sorry it took your H going so far in the opposite direction before realizing you always were the one all along.

      • Strengthrequired November 9, 2016 at 12:23 am #

        Sarah, do you remember one day I mentioned that an elderly lady sat next to me one day, and wanted to talk. Well the other day, an elderly man approached my car, he could barely walk, had a walking stick, he asked me for a lift to his dentist. Now Normaly I would never ever say yes, yet for some reason, I felt this man needed a kind helping hand. While I drove him to his appointment, he started telling me how his wife died, after he had a stroke and was in hospital, he was told that he would never walk again. His wife was so sad/ depressed, that she passed away.
        He told me how he was in hospital for around three months. One night while he was in hospital he said that a man he believes was Christ came to his bedside with an amazing light surrounding him. This man told him to get up and walk (this was around 1am) his reply was who are you, tell me who you are? This man just smiled and told him, that he is to get up and walk, then disappeared.
        He got up from then and started walking, his nurse came in and was in shock that he was walking. He told me how for over twelve years he would go and help out the disabled children, he would make generous donations to them as well, and from doing so, it brought him so much joy.
        He told me how he believes in his heart, Christ came to him and healed his legs, because he was a good person.
        Then just out of the blue, he said ” I love women, women should be treated like gold, men should look after their women, and how sad it makes him, when men treat their women so badly”
        Funny thing is this man is the same nationality as my husband.
        He wished me good fortune and love and happiness, and that I am blessed for being kind to him, he was so grateful.
        Funny it was only about a 15 min drive, but when I got him to his destination, he just wanted to keep talking, so I think it turned out to be close 40 mins.
        Honestly, I would never normally give anyone a lift, I didn’t know, and don’t plan on it again, but I felt like I help this man out.
        Anyway, I still believe, God brings these people into your life for a reason. I am glad I could help this elderly man, even if it was a little bit awkward.

        • Sarah P. November 10, 2016 at 5:00 pm #

          Hi Strength,
          I am glad that you gave the man a ride– obviously you were meant to do it and he had quite a message for you. He sounds like a wonderful man. Do you think you will see him again? He sounds lonely and in need of a family to take him under his wing. When I was growing up, my mom would somehow find people like this and bring them to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. We often had one or two homeless people at the table for holidays. But, that was in the late 70’s early 80’s and times have changed. The world is not as safe now.

          I believe that man’s story about the healing too, but that is probably because I believe in alternative methods of healing and I believe in miracles.

          THANKS for sharing that story. (It’s so uplifting!) I think God is putting people in your life to show you how much he cares about you. (And I think we can all have these situations of we are willing to take a step of faith. You had to have the insight that you needed to pick this man up and you were open to it.)

          • Strengthrequired November 10, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

            Sarah, tbh with you, I’m just not comfortable going to this mans home. He does appear to have people around him, he was on the phone with one when in the car. I have thought about going to visit him, but I just can’t bring myself to. Unfortunately I keep to myself quite a lot nowadays.
            You know the funny thing, when I told my husband what he said about how men should treat their women like they are gold and look after them. My husband asked what did i tell him, for him to say that? I think he thought I must have told this man that my husband chested. Lol
            Of course I didn’t, yet it was interesting to see my husband get paranoid, thinking I’m telling others how bad he has treated me and not how wonderful he is.

            • Sarah P. November 10, 2016 at 10:27 pm #

              Hi Strength,
              That’s FUNNY that your husband assumed you said something to the older gentleman. I wonder when your husband will have his huge epiphany about his behavior. When do the inlaws arrive? You said a while back that they were going to move nearby again. Bleh.
              🙁

              • Strengthrequired November 11, 2016 at 2:25 am #

                Sarah, it was funny, I think maybe he has had a huge epiphany, which is probably why he worries if I say anything about his past behaviour. No one wants that clouding over them all the time, yet if you have a conscience it just might make you worry.
                Only one has returned, probably the others along with the rest of the clan, will come next year sometime. I’m just not sure when.
                Yet I am not looking forward to it, at all.

                • Sarah P. November 11, 2016 at 11:45 pm #

                  Hi Strength,
                  I have some questions– has he actually ever apologized and told you how wrong he was? Did your kids find out and how did they handle it?

                  I am trying to figure out if there was ever resolution or if you are still taking it day by day.

                  • Strengthrequired November 14, 2016 at 12:30 am #

                    Sarah, yes he did apologise. I think I am still day by day at times, when your hurt so badly I think day by day becomes a part of life. You try to keep your eyes and ears open, you stop fully trusting, not just the Cs but everyone. Not that it is a bad thing, probably a good thing actually.
                    Yet you keep protecting yourself by not letting your guard down. I think that is where I am. Not sure I am ready to let my guard down.

                    • Lynsey November 14, 2016 at 5:11 am #

                      Hi Strengthrequired, That’s where I am too, and it’s been nearly 5 years. Don’t know if I will ever be able to trust anyone. My guard is always up, and I still think about the EA every day. My H seems OK (still won’t talk about the EA), but I’ll never forget how blindsided I felt when the cheating was discovered. If it happens again, it will destroy me. I miss the old me who was relaxed, open, trusting.

                    • TheFirstWife November 14, 2016 at 7:26 am #

                      Hi Lynsey

                      I am sorry you are in this position. I know how it feels. My H had a 4 year EA (the girl was madly in love with him but he was not in love with her BUT the relationship still crossed the line).

                      He would never tell me what was going on or when they spoke or give me any information about their so-called friendship.

                      It wasn’t until I finally became so irate that I didn’t speak to him for two days that he realized I had had enough. That’s when it ended.

                      Prior to that you stonewalled, gaslighted me,ignored me and just blatantly what about with this friendship, even though he knew how I felt.

                      Even after this girl made her move to try to get a date out of him by asking him to be her date at a wedding, he still was continuing the emotional affair.

                      It came out During his last affair that he did consider the four-year emotional affair as something that he did and he finally acknowledged to the most recent OW this affair was inappropriate.

                      The OW told me about it as they had discussed it. Sooooo long story short my experience has been that because my husband did not come to terms with his first emotional affair, during his so-called midlife crisis he became involved in a second affair.

                      It is maddening to say the least, when you know something has gone and the person refuses to even acknowledge or admit it.

                      I sometimes wonder if I had walked out on him during the first one if it would have changed anything. I think not because I have since learned that his ego would never allow him to admit that he could’ve possibly made a mistake.

                      All I can tell you from my past experience is that many cheaters Will not acknowledge an emotional affair as being “wrong” because in their mind if there is no sex involved there is no affair.

                      And we all know what a bunch of crap that is.

                      I wish you luck but I just want you to know that it took my husband 20 years to acknowledge the EA and only because of someone else. He never ever admitted it to me willingly.

  4. theresa November 9, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    The “justification” for infidelity (my genetics made me do it) is the single most bull shit excuse used by the infidels.
    .
    I feel there are non-human creatures we share our planet Earth with that have more advanced physical adaptations, and that have better relationships and deal more harmoniously with their environment. Their evolutionary adaptations allow them to co-exist with each other being able to sustain without harm, the world they inhabit. Not just for today but also for tomorrow.

    We (humans) profess the be the highest form of life on the evolutionary scale. There are membership requirements to belong to this exclusive club. This list of requirements has one main element that trumps (sorry) the rest. We have a moral code. We define what is right, what is wrong. We pride ourselves in making decisions while adhering to the tenets of this code. We attach labels to our choices, honorable, compassionate, trustworthy, loyalty…
    We pride ourselves on being able to control our elemental instincts. We act with integrity. We make promises.
    WE MAKE CHOICES!
    So when we choose to ignore our moral code, when we disregard the rules of being human, when we give ourselves permission to break the rules, how do we justify these decisions?
    Is it okay to blame it on genetics? When we have to justify an action to ourselves, when we have to ask the question don’t we already know the answer? And when we head down that path, you have had more than one chance to make the right decision. There is more than one step in engaging the action. You have asked and gave permission to yourself more that once. There are no snap decisions. There are steps. You are giving yourself permission more that once. IT NEVER JUST HAPPENS! You had already taken a step on the wrong path.
    So, if you can not control yourself where do you fit on the evolutionary scale. When you look in a mirror, do you see someone that is honorable. Does that person have integrity, compassion. Is that person trustworthy?

    You can come up with a million reasons to make the wrong decision.
    There is only one reason to make the right decision. You made a promise.

    ps, I may be wrong, but in the non-human animal kingdom don’t the females choose their mate (I know, not all). She makes an ” elemental evolutionary” choice in propagating the species.
    Do human females have this uncontrollable urge when they encounter an exceptional specimen? Even though she is committed to another?
    What are the “Laws of Attraction”. Is it different for men and women?
    i have never heard a female using this excuse. Is there one out there?

    So I say “BULLSHIT”, to the primal urge excuse.

    • Sarah P. November 10, 2016 at 4:52 pm #

      Hi Teresa,

      Agree 100% with what you say.

      Whether you look at humanity as being created by evolution or created by God, humans all have the ability to reason and (mostly) have insight into the fact that they are behaving wrongly.

      The problem I have with humanity is that we have so much intelligence and we misuse it (as a whole.) Humans have the capability to know how to live in harmony with the environment, humans know the difference between right and wrong, and humans could develop very emotionally advanced societies. In such society everyone could choose to do no harm to one another or to the planet. Yet, it has been shown over and over as a species that even if we have the capability, we choose not to use it. In general, humans continue to harm one another, to act selfishly, and to hate one another for the most irrational reasons.

      Infidelity is just another example of the things that humans do even when they have control over their actions and even when they know better. We are not purely instinctual creatures. We have instincts, but they generally do not govern us. If they did, we would be no more advanced than the gorillas who inhabit forests. (Nothing against gorillas– it would be so neat to go to Tanzania and to observe them in the wild.) I think of all the things that humans could be capable of if they gave up selfishness, stopped hurting others, and aspired to something better that could be a benefit to everyone in the world. What if everyone worked for the greater good, stuck to their promises, and refused to partake of actions that harmed other humans or animals? We would be a less war-like society– that is for certain. Maybe we would have gotten to Mars or beyond. I have always wondered why all of this is so obvious and yet very few to behave in ways that are peaceful and for the greater good.

      So, I don’t believe in these primal urges. We are so advanced that the mysteries of quantum physics have been unlocked. This is not something that a species could do if primal urges actually controlled them. So, it all amounts to one excuse after another to allow those with a guilty conscience to absolve themselves. They have acted on their own agency and must take the blame for wrong actions. So, every time some scientist tries to develop an excuse for this behavior, it burns me up!

      • Hopeful November 14, 2016 at 2:29 pm #

        What I see now is how selfish my husband was raised. Along with some other childhood issues that I guess you would say boosted his ego and elevated his sense of self worth. I thought it was confidence but now I see it was masking insecurity. And he became so dependent upon this identity. I hear now what was said to him as a kid and it all starts to make sense. Along with what happened in his early adult hood as pivotal moments. What I don’t understand is why did he stay with me, ask me to marry him or push to have kids. All I can think is this all fulfilled an image he wanted on the exterior. I am the farthest thing from a clingy, needy or pushy person. We have so much in common except now I realize how we treat others and our morals. It ended up being a huge difference.

        He sees everything so much differently now. He almost seems puzzled how this happened to him. Recently he said how did he go off script in such a bad way. Kind of troubles me that he says that. I am glad he is open with me.

  5. Strengthrequired November 9, 2016 at 4:18 pm #

    Theresa, exactly, you know what happens when they get on that wrong path, they say to themselves, ” well your already this far, may as well keep going, who cares about anyone else”

    • theresa November 10, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

      and gets easier and easier for them to surrender to their urges

      • TheFirstWife November 10, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

        Theresa & SR,

        I think it (the affair) sometimes starts with this mindset “I deserve to be happy”.

        Yes we do but not at the expense of hurting others.

        • Strengthrequired November 10, 2016 at 3:51 pm #

          Most definately tfw, I believe that was what my ch thought. I deserve to be happy. Of course it was my fault that he was going through a depression, my fault he hit midlife too.

        • Rachel November 12, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

          Yup, heard that too!

      • Strengthrequired November 10, 2016 at 3:53 pm #

        Theresa, the longer they stay on the wrong path, the harder it is to get off.

        • Hopeful November 14, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

          Yes, my husband said he never looked for anything. These women pushed him and one sought him out for 3-4 years before he gave her his number. But he said he felt like he should be happy and these women were all over him. It was what they were offering him. He knew it was wrong before he did it. And then he said he was miserable however it was a slippery slope. He already had done it and felt horrible about himself so what was it going to change whether he did it or not. He felt like he had no way out.

  6. TryingHard November 11, 2016 at 9:13 am #

    Hopefully mankind has also evolved past the point of running down animals and eating the raw organs out of their catch. Hopefully man has evolved past the point of killing their neighbor because he stole his catch. And in and on. Society adopts rules and commandments and laws to keep society safe and civil. Arguing anything less is excuse making

    Don’t try to untangle the fuckupedness of cheaters and their hormonal or FOO issues or any other kind of theory, scientific or otherwise. People cheat because they lack character, integrity, morals and commitment. But they are full of entitlement and false ego

    • Strengthrequired November 11, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

      Th, let’s hope….

  7. theresa November 12, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    So, we struggle with the reality, accept that life as we knew it has been obliterated and now must choose. And since you can’t turn love off, no matter what choice you make you lose.
    The choice to leave results in the obvious void.
    The choice to stay may be worse.
    We identify the flaws and have assigned the labels to the cheater, And the cheater has a label. The decision to go right or left on the path is a conscious one. And the decision is their’s and their’s alone. No excuse, no justification. Just wrong.
    If you are one of the lucky ones, you have a partner that has apologized, is truly remorseful, and works to make things right.
    The unlucky ones have a much harder decision. Now, with eyes wide open we must settle for less than we deserve. We are recommitting to someone with questionable values, a lack of integrity, a to the bone selfishness, a lack of respect for you.
    Once again we lose and we will be betting against the odds.
    Their second step on the path is much easier.

    • TheFirstWife November 12, 2016 at 3:59 pm #

      Very well said and all true.

      • Shifting Impressions November 13, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

        Theresa
        I can so relate…..to your family stories as well. My husband and I worked hard to instill all those values into our family as well.

        My adult children all know and have been amazing. But perhaps we are still instilling values in them as they watch how we handle what happens when one of us falls.

        They have seen our pain, but I hope they will also see that we can get through this.

  8. theresa November 12, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    ps.

    the values we try to instill in our children must carry through their lifetime.
    I have posted about some of my favorite times with my children. They all loved to tub talk. Quiet, relaxing, informative nuggets of time.
    When this time was over, playing chauffeur was the next best thing. They forgot I could hear them. Whether it was just us, or with their friends, this was my next best nugget. If they included me in on their discussions I’d join in. But the best stuff happened when they forgot I could hear them. As they grew up the subjects evolved.
    When they first started to noticed that boys and girls were different.
    One of them doing a dead on impersonation of his mom
    The day after Halloween when my son and two friends dressed up as females, and a neighbor almost got sick from laughing.
    And terror the next year, that some of the pics were going into their school yearbook. And how they could prevent this horrifying episode from reminding people that you did it. (One of them joined the yearbook committee to run interference). They were unsuccessful, it was forever preserved in time.
    The stories of driver’s-ed events.
    And telling a tale of something embarrassing about themselves and being able to laugh at themselves.

    Now I could see them putting some of the life lessons to use.
    The worry over a friend and what they can do. Hearing one say my mom hates gossip. (they actually remembered this, the lesson got through).!!!
    Hearing a bell in my head that something needed to be addressed.
    Asking my advice about something, and listening to suggestions. Having one of their friends asking my advice
    Taking to heart, that one of the worst things (sins), was to make a decision or take an action that you know would hurt someone.
    Just doing the right thing, even if it means that you will be depriving yourself of something you really want.

    And now having to deal with someone who you thought possessed these values, but chose to disregard them.

    • Hopeful November 14, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

      This is all so true. I am starting in on the teen and pre teen years and our time and talks are so valuable. I still stand by it that my kids would not ever behave the way their father has. And he agrees. I am relentless with our conversations. We have great discussions and talk a lot about how people treat each other, how people behave, relationships with friends that are girls or boys.

      One thing that has stuck out to me is my husband struggles a lot with what he has done. He apologizes a lot. He has started to bring it up more often on his own. I find that a good sign it is not just me and he is learning how to express himself to me without being questioned. He has said the worst thing is not what he has done but the fact he did these things to the person he loves most in this world. That is what he said is hardest for him. It makes me think every time he says that and it sticks with me on many levels.

  9. theresa November 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

    pss

    (Halloween) commenting on attributes of the wardrobes. Who looked hot. Who looked like Marilyn Monroe. Who’s dress was too long, Who had the best boobs……

  10. Rachel November 12, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

    Tomorrow will be 5 years since the ex declared his love to his married soul mate. Funny how I remember the date? I can remember it like it was yesterday, but I can’t remember what I did yesterday!!!
    The hurt is still there. His words. His lack of feelings for me at all.
    I am better off.

    • Shifting Impressions November 13, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

      Rachel
      I guess we have a date in common…..mine three years ago. And I hear you, I never remember dates but that one is forever frozen in time.

  11. Fragments of Hope November 13, 2016 at 7:21 am #

    Thanks Sarah, I enjoyed this article and your need to rant! There are no legitimate reasons for cheating yet if you choose reconciliation you must find out what led your other half to those actions in a bid to see whether it is a long term character flaw or a result of some poor choices at a stressful time in the other person’s life. If it is a character flaw or bad pattern then you need to see if steps are taken to rectify that. Despite the fact that my husband is remorseful and has made great changes in himself I still struggle with the legacy of the dreadful impact his actions have had on me. While knowing logcially that it was not about me, the gut punch reality of someone so close to you destroying reality as you know it, lying to your face, putting someone else first, (themselves and the OW) and completely disregarding you as a person has a long term impact. I have my own weaknesses, a tendency to anxiety and depression. My husband’s actions have a dreadful impact on my wellbeing. Although, for now, I want to stay in this relationship for the companionship with do have and to provide a stable home for my children, I struggle with staying with someone who, though their selfishness caused such harm. He has grown as a person now (almost 3 yrs later) but I had to undergo a 2nd D-day when he went back talking to her behind my back (he was trying to extricate himself on his own terms. His desire to always ‘fix things’ himself destroyed an opportunity for him to come close to me with honesty. And the road to reconciliation was long and peppered with his old habits of defensiveness, egotism, passive aggression, stonewalling, argumentativeness. It may be naive but I mourn the straightforward feeling of connection and care. I will always now be wary, knowing that even though my basic premise was honesty (even in the face of conflicted feelings and the ups and downs of marriage) he violated that at a key time. As a stay at home mother and with a compromised career (my creative writing was severely held back due to the shock of the affair) my identity is floundering, I lack confidence and am socially anxious. I know that I can work on these independent of my husband but as I said at the beginning perhaps it is too much to stay longterm with the person who harmed you,

    • TheFirstWife November 13, 2016 at 8:11 am #

      Fragments. I hear you 100%.

      I had the post traumatic stress.

      I had the self doubt and feeling of worthlessness issues.

      I had the good cop bad cop playing in my head. He cheated. Yet remorseful. He was mean and hateful. He is making amends.

      You can torture yourself with this forEVER.

      I had to stop this cycle by reminding myself of two things:

      The Disciples were not a bunch of great upstanding men. Some were tax collectors and bad people. But they changed and redeemed themselves. Jesus accepts sinners and people can turn their lives around. Prostitutes became better people.

      The second thing is what is your reality now? I keep reminding myself that changes have been made and yes, my H made a huge mistake as the result of HIS midlife crisis.

      I understand it is hard to reconcile the terrible ordeal and hurtful things that were said and done during the affair. And yes we CHOOSE to remain in the marriage/relationship.

      However we have to let go of the hurt and anger because only the BS is suffering. Holding on allows the anger and pain to control you.

      I choose not to let it dominate my life. I have changed. He has changed. It is not the same marriage. Look for the things that are better in your life.

      Stay focused on it.

      But remember if at any point you see a return of behaviors you are not comfortable with or don’t like, speak up!

      And remember at any point you can always decide to leave the marriage. it is a choice we all have.

      I know how you feel – you would miss him and will always love him but yet are resentful and hurt yo be married to someone who did this to you.

      We all are!

      That is why so many marriages don’t survive infidelity. It is extremely difficult and it is the gift that keeps on giving – whether you want it or not! There will always be reminders.

      I am not a jazz fan. The OW and my H shared that as part of their affair. Some days I can hear it and other days it MUST BE TURNED OFF!

      I just go with the flow of it all.

      And I put my life first. For once.

    • Shifting Impressions November 13, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

      Fragments
      Thank you for your insightful comment. Today is the three year anniversary of my D-day….and yes there was a second d-day as well. I’m with The First Wife, I hear you 100%.

      I will never be the same, but for some reason, I am feeling hopeful. Progress is slow and often painful but nevertheless, there is progress.

      I am so sorry to hear that your creative writing was so effected. For me, my creativity was and still is my therapy. Much anger and many tears have been poured into my work. I poured my grief into it. It has been very cathartic. Is there any way that you can channel some of your pain into your writing?

      Also, this has made me tap into strength I never knew I had. I see this same strength in the people in this community. None of us asked to be here, but here we are.

    • Sarah P. November 14, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

      Hello Fragments,
      Thank you for commenting and welcome!

      I wanted to offer some words that I intend as supportive. Sometimes it is impossible to gauge someone’s tone in writing. The first thing that stuck out to me in your comment was the mention of depression and anxiety as a weakness. This is a very important point to consider because I do not view depression or anxiety as weaknesses. I know the biochemistry of it and know of the genetic disposition toward it. I do not see depression as a weakness at all. It’s a disease process just like cancer is a disease process. Depression kills the mind and cancer kills the body. I will tell you that I had post-partum depression with my second. I got over it, but during the thick of it, I can say that I had never experienced anything like it before. To say that post-partum depression leveled me as if I had been run into my several freight trains would be an understatement. I don’t think I have ever battled with anything as hard in my life. (And my life isn’t perfect.) As you know, it is one of those things that is impossible to relate to unless someone has been through it themselves. Going through it changed my paradigm. So, I am sure that your husband’s behavior made everything worse. But, don’t ever believe you are flawed or weak because of bouts of anxiety or depression. You have a right to patience and compassion. I am sure that your H’s affair impacted your overall wellbeing, just as you said. I cannot imagine going through a spouses affair while knowing that it could throw me back into depression. What a difficult way to live. I would encourage you to set time aside each day to work on your fiction, if you don’t already. Heck, maybe you can make your fictional affair story even longer. I understand why you struggle with staying, but honestly I would not make any drastic life changes. I think it is okay to stay and work through it. Trust can be restored and a marriage can survive. It just takes time and work. If the good generally outweighs the bad then it is worth trying to heal. I am sorry that your husband returned to ineffective communication patterns when you were working through it. How often does he display those traits these days?

      • Fragments of Hope November 15, 2016 at 6:09 am #

        Hi Sarah and thanks. He is improving with those communication patterns, especially in the last couple of months (we are almost 3 years from D-Day 1). Once I got out of the severe shock and confusion/depression of his actions I became more clear about the ways he sometimes undermines me when he says things. His first response is often defensiveness which can then suggest I don’t have a point when I bring an issue up. I thank you and agree that I shouldn’t call my anxiety and depression a weakness. I suppose I was saying it in the context that I know that I might be more severely reacting to some of his comments or actions because I’m not in a good place myself. Even with my children it’s clear how sometimes you can react angrily to something they do or else choose to be more philosophical and guide them to a better way of acting. On the other hand it is true to say that I’ve identified some very negative feelings towards myself for where my anxiety brings me sometimes and what I found most hurtful about the affair was how he shared examples of my overwhelm with the OW. It has been a dreadful few years. My mother in law had a life changing stroke. I have a son with aspergers, just turned 16 who also suffered with anxiety and also could be quite aggressive and verbally abusive. He was out of school for nearly 2 years and has just gone back, and all is going well. Of course the negativity following the affair no doubt affected him as well and the difficulties with managing our son also contributed to my husband’s depression leading to the affair. I am happy to say that things are finally feeling much better, stresses are alleviating and I am back working creatively again. I just feel a bit burned out and need to be careful.

        • Sarah P. November 15, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

          Hi Fragments,

          I am sorry to hear about your son. I have two sons who are ‘on the spectrum.’ One has severe ADHD and they thought the younger one had autism. As soon as we found out, we got intervention with professionals I took some classes in applied behavioral analysis to continue the work at home. Now, he just has what they call a global delay, but it is getting more mild each year because we keep working with him. I am sorry that your son has been verbally abusive but that is understandable. I am sure he is frustrated since he most likely faces internal challenges.

          Please do not take any offense, but it sounds like your husband has (in the past) sometimes interacted with you in ways that trigger your anxiety and/or depression. (This is especially the case in an affair.) I am so very sorry that you had to go through it. Depression is already a lonely experience and then when you are not able to lean on the person because they are a source of the depression is rough.

          Please be on guard with your husband’s actions toward you and try to sort through how he treats you. If he is angry, uses gas-lighting, or undermines your viewpoint, then these are the things that you do not need to listen to. I have been in one relationship when I was much younger where the guy was always trying to gas-light, undermine me, and alter my perception. I took a lot of it to heart because I was a people pleaser at the time. I felt that if he saw something wrong, then it MUST be wrong. I did not trust my own perceptions and felt that if someone labeled me something, no matter how outrageous, it must be true. It did such a number on me and I still kind of struggle with un-doing the damage (and this was just over 20 years ago.) The situation became so severe that the guy’s parents and friends stepped in and told him what he was doing was very abusive. They told me they would not blame me if I left. It took a while, but I did leave. His parents sided with me when I did and did a good job keeping him from stalking me. This is not to say that I overlook construction criticism. I don’t overlook it. Instead, I analyze it and see if there is truth in it and take it to heart if there is truth. Before, I just accepted everything as true without even thinking about it. Accepting other people’s criticism as true without examining it was a path to anxiety for me. I was always second-guessing myself. So, I guess the message that I am trying to relay is that when your husband acts out or blames you, take it as his problem, not yours. Often when men get caught cheating they suffer an indescribable embarrassment that leads to shame. This shame causes them to lash out in anger. (I suppose I could say the same would be true for cheating women.) They would rather pin blame outside themselves so they don’t have to process the shame. Shame is one of those emotions that brings people to their knees.

          But, in the end, it sounds like things are going better at home and I am happy to hear that. I hope that in the end this experience is able to benefit you in some way. What I mean by that is I hope you two can get through the pain and come out with a stronger marriage. I don’t wish infidelity on anyone. But when it happens, it is a sink or swim situation.

          Thanks again for your comment and I hope all is well with you today!

          • Fragments of Hope November 15, 2016 at 4:34 pm #

            Thanks so much Sarah and I’m happy to hear that your work with your son has helped him make progress. My son’s verbal abuse came from his own dogmatism, anxiety and condition (over logical), my husband shares a certain type of argumentiveness and sense of being right with his father. The three of them can argue forever and whether they mean it or not it has ended up making me feel disregarded. I have made it very clear to my husband that he has to stop those habits. On the whole he is a kind and pleasant speaking person, he has hated any emotional type of conflict though, (his family never had big blow ups) but he has always taken the logical line. I recognise it and call him up on it now. thanks for the interesting discussion which has brought up some new insights.

  12. Fragments of Hope November 14, 2016 at 7:04 am #

    Thank you The First Wife and Shifting Impressions for you lovely, thoughtful and uplifting responses. The First Wife, I hear you and my husband really wishes for us to build on the lovely times we can and do have and most of the time I am doing that, now that the shock and the triggers are beginning to wear off, now that we have worked through a few issues so that now I can believe that he gets it. Thanks Shifting Impressions. I kept working away on the creative side and at least journaling as it IS so important. The progress went down to a snail’s pace. I’m much better in the last couple of months. What is incredible is how you feed what is happening subconsciously into your work, a novel I wrote when the affair (emotional) was unknown to me was about a man who felt cut off from everyone, including his wife and became overly obsessed with a work of art and its artist (with whom he eventually has an affair!) Without knowing it the things I’ve experienced are going into my books and now, in a way, the insight I have gained is a gift I can use in the future.

    However I just want to run something by you all. I’ve just discovered some billls from 2004, well before the affair. I knew my husband looked at porn occasionally but these bills drummed up significant charges. My husband’s reaction is that he did not realise he was on so much or that these charges had built up. Memory loss again! But he must have known at the time. This changes the landscape for me as it seems another area where he went too far and was deceptive or at least blocked out the significance to himself. I know he has not had this level of use in years and after the affair I’ve drawn a line altogether. Do I put this in the past and still move on, knowing he’s worked on himself or do I see it as part of a long running character of hiding things that may not have changed?

    • TheFirstWife November 14, 2016 at 7:34 am #

      Fragments. See my response to Lynsey about my H’s EA 20 years ago.

      I think if you can believe his porn use is not occurring now, then you can leave it in the past. It is good to be aware of issues but if they are not present, his usage may have stopped and is not an issue for him.

      Sometimes you have to move away from the past, as hard as it may be.

      My H knows I have zero tolerance for flirty emails from women. He recently received one from a business colleague wanting to discuss her new venture. Let’s meet up for a drink type thing. He declined and referred her to others in his organization.

      • Fragments of Hope November 15, 2016 at 6:13 am #

        Thanks, I’ve read your reply to Lynsey. My boundaries are definitely a lot more clear cut and tight now. It is good to feel that the decision is still mine, either now or in the future.

    • Shifting Impressions November 14, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

      Fragments
      I agree that what we are going through does show up in our creative lives. I am happy that that there is somewhat of a gift to be had. A gift we would rather do without but alas it is what it is.

      About the porn….it’s his attitude I would be looking at. Is there remorse? Is he willing to discuss the issue? Does he comprehend what it does to a relationship??

      At times like this asking one’s self “What is true today?” Can be really helpful.

      • Hopeful November 14, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

        Fragments,

        I am 20 months out and the betrayal/affairs hit me extra hard because of the sacrifices I had made career wise. I had thought we were a team and his cheating made me feel completely devalued in all ways. It was really hard. Recently I have gotten back into work. Some days I resent it as it honestly was not our plan. Things have fallen by the wayside since the work has been so plentiful. However what I have learned and my therapist agrees with me is that this in the end is good. Even if I feel overwhelmed or like I am not getting to other things or some days are hard. My therapist has said he can see a difference in me and has seen this time and time again. And I think it is an issue in general for women in how do we do it or have it all. It is never easy. But getting back to work/consulting has been great for me.

        As far as the past charges I think that is tricky. I know it would hit me too. I tend to think is there more to the story. My husband barely remembers anything in his life much less things he wants to not remember and is ashamed of. So that could be at play. Most men do not want to talk or engage in discussion related to pornography. I think it is something they were taught to use in secret. More on that in one of Sarah’s past posts. If it were me I would want to have a very honest discussion related to porn. What are the boundaries related to porn? Are you okay with it, how much, pay for it etc? Now really no one has to pay as the free access is plentiful and everywhere. I think in the end what matters is what your acceptance and boundary is for porn and if he is honoring that.

        • Fragments of Hope November 15, 2016 at 6:20 am #

          Thank you, Hopeful, very good points. We have had some of those discussions about porn already and to be honest I wasn’t too concerned about it and knew he glanced at stuff from time to time but you know, if anything new comes to the surface you wonder ‘What else is there?’ As you say, there is free access now, the payments were from years ago and there is some question marks as the sites were billing sites. when i looked them up it said they were mostly used for ‘adult sites’ but some could have potentially been for work stuff. There were definitely ‘friendfinder’ sites as well with adult content. It was the extent of payments that just seemed over the top and the fact that all this was going on in a time in our marriage that seemed one of the golden times (we had three of the kids then, all tiny) . I suppose I will have to just take it from here and see if he is now the transparent man he says he is!

      • Fragments of Hope November 15, 2016 at 6:22 am #

        Yes we have had discussions, see below, and yes ‘what is true today’ is a key point. Thanks for helping me to clarify my thoughts.

  13. Strengthrequired November 15, 2016 at 12:40 am #

    Lynsey, five years fast approaching for me too. I try not to worry any more about the lack of trust I have. I do however hope one day, my guard will come down, yet you and I both know, we will be the only one that knows when the time is right.
    For me, it isn’t just yet.

  14. Butterball December 2, 2016 at 3:10 am #

    With all due respect, there is scientific research that says the opposite, that the endocrine system can affect the brain and as a consequence, behavior: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK20431/

    • Hopeful December 5, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

      I agree there can be other issues, but my husband says he knew before, during and after that what he was doing was wrong. Of course he found ways to justify his behavior to himself but he knew it was wrong. And at least for my husband everything else in his life was going perfectly. He was excelling in his career both accomplishment and fiancially. He had tons of friends, family that loved him, me as a great wife, great kids…. and he decided to stop cheating on his own long before dday. If he had some sort of imbalance I think it would have shown up elsewhere in his life and or not gone away. My therapist honestly thinks he was just extremely immature. Which is odd considering how highly functioning he was in all other aspects of his life. I believe it was a choice. My husband says all the time there are many husbands who want to cheat but never do. For religious reasons, scared, who knows. They say regularly they will leave their wives when the kids go to college etc. he said in general most men are ok with the status quo.

  15. theresa December 2, 2016 at 9:41 am #

    http://community.affairhealing.com/post/post-affair-discovery-how-i-wish-my-ws-did-this-and-not-that-8325968

    I’ve been away for a while. 4 months of taking care of my mother in law. Just a barrel full of monkeys in a place that has 1 good thing about it… great birds !!!
    (Won’t say where, don’t want to offend)

    Anyway in catching up I found the above link
    What do you think?

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