Discussion: What Stage of the Affair Recovery Process are You In at Present?

The 5 stages of affair recovery

Whether you just found out about the affair or you are much further along in your recovery process, you have something in common…

…You’d like things to get better and move closer to complete recovery, healing and a thriving marriage we all want.

The first step is really understanding where you’re at currently.

Take a few minutes to think which of the 5 Stages of affair recovery you are in right now, and please share in the comment section below the post.

Here are the 5 Stages of Affair Recovery:

Stage 1 – Trauma & Crisis

This is the stage right after the affair has been disclosed or discovered.  More commonly known as D-day. This is a period of numbness, shock, anger and overwhelming grief.  The couple and the marriage are in crisis.  Neither the hurt spouse or the unfaithful spouse can think clearly. 

Stage 2 – Stabilization

In this stage, the heightened emotions of D-day have settled down a bit and the couple is starting to look at and deal with the core issues that led to the affair.  There is still an emotional roller coaster and often there are many emotionally charged arguments.  This is often the stage where an attempt by the hurt spouse to further understand the affair and all the details occurs. 

Stage 3 – Dealing with the Issues

In this stage the couple has worked through much of the emotions and have survived the initial marital crisis.  The couple is now ready to begin the hard work of healing the marriage and dealing with the myriad of core issues.  Once again, this can be a frustrating time as there will be many ups and downs and progress may seem to crawl at a snail’s pace.  During this phase the hurt spouse’s self-confidence slowly starts to return and she or he may start to feel more secure.

Stage 4 – Working Together

After a while, consistency will return to the relationship which in turn, allows trust to also return (though maybe not quite 100%). The couple will have a sense of cooperation and work together as they continue to rebuild the marriage.  The affair is rarely discussed and most of the focus is on moving forward. There still may be some painful days and triggers may be a semi-frequent issue for the hurt spouse.

Stage 5 – Connection and Intimacy

This stage is where the couple attempts to take things to the next level by working to develop a deeper connection and level of intimacy with each other.  The memory of the affair is certainly still there, but there is little to no pain associated with the memories.  Each party has done the work to understand who they are and what they need.  There is improvement in communication and conflict resolution skills.  The couple understand each other’s emotional needs.

When you read these summaries, you may feel like you’re doing pretty well…or maybe you’re frustrated by your current situation.

The GREAT news is that you can absolutely move up to higher stages. Whether you’re starting at Stage 1 or Stage 4, the important thing is getting to that next step of your journey toward affair recovery.

We’d love to hear from you personally on this!  Please take a few minutes and tell us which stage you’re in currently, what you’re experiencing and anything else you’d like to share.


Linda & Doug



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44 Responses to Discussion: What Stage of the Affair Recovery Process are You In at Present?

  1. Shifting Impressions February 14, 2017 at 10:01 pm #

    What stage am I at??? That’s a good question. The answer for me is not all that black and white….. we sort of shift back and forth between stages.

    After three years I would say we are somewhere between stage three and four. At this point in time, stage five seems like a bit of a pipe dream to me. Although the triggers and pain have lessened I think it’s probably still the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. The sorrow and grief, although not near as sharp as they once were, are still there.

    But I can honestly say we are still moving forward……slowly, but forward nevertheless.

    • Patty February 23, 2017 at 1:44 pm #

      Thank you for sharing. You described how I feel every day. Sometimes I feel exhausted and hopeless for a future without all these painful emotions.

  2. Patsy50 February 15, 2017 at 9:14 am #

    I’m at stage 5. It was six years ago for Dday. There isn’t pain anymore when I look back but a sadness at how my marriage got to be where it was at that place and time. Don’t have the need to ask or know any more why’s. The EA will never be forgotten and shouldn’t be. We are in a good place now.

  3. Mike February 15, 2017 at 3:45 pm #

    After finding out about my wife’s one night stand back in late 2010 we have made it to stage 5 in the past year. She has discussed the disclosure and both of us have read Peggy Vaughan’s book “The Monogamy Myth” and processed the issues and has proven her loyalty to to our marriage. Our relatioship is better now then it has ever been!

    • TheFirstWife February 16, 2017 at 6:15 am #

      Mike. Thanks for sharing. Do you think it was different for you b/c it was once and not an on-going affair with deep emotion involved?

      • Mike February 18, 2017 at 5:06 pm #

        The pain was overwhelming to say the least. It actually started in the early 2000s when I would find nude pictures, emails to other men and horrible pictures that was just overwhelming to me. I was on a infidelity online chatroom for several months and the moderator said that it was probably more than what I uncovered and I was in denial. Around 2002 I found a text where the OP wanted to meet for a quickie but according to my wife she backed out. After this things went back to normal and we went to counseling and worked things out and got better.

        Fast forward toward the end of 2010 when my wife was at the doctor I was on the computer and saw an instant message come on screen and started texting me, thinking he was talking to my wife. That’s when I realized she did have a physical relationship with this man, and that’s when my whole world imploded. I didn’t discuss this with her a couple days until I confronted her on it. She said that it was a one time deal and said she felt like sh*t afterward.

        She stated that she has not talked to him since. She has gone the extra mile in rebuilding trust and am sure it is all behind us now. It might have been more traumatic had it been an ongoing affair but just the thought of her having a physical relationship with another man took me over the edge. I’m just glad it is behind us now and can move on without the pain. I hope this helps.

  4. Puzzled February 16, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

    I would consider us enmeshed between Stages 4 & 5. We are continuing to build and repair. There still are triggers/memories for me of her choices/actions. I still hurt from the things that she said to me and how I was treated. However, those sad issues don’t dominate my thoughts. They simply “pop up” at times. I’m miles from where I was two years ago and even one year ago. This journey is hard but I really feel we will be better because we did not give up. I told my wife a long time ago- “the easy thing is quitting and giving up. The hard part is saying that we are worth it and will fight for us”. Although it took her a long while to get out of her fog, she’s working hard with me to make a more centered marriage- emotionally, spiritually, physically. I’m sure that the memories will never go away but I’m certain they will continue to fade. Her choices and her affair are a part of the fabric of our marriage. They are woven into the pattern. But the pattern is pretty complex so, eventually, they will blend in with the rest of it- all part of our life together.

  5. Hope Eternal February 17, 2017 at 7:01 am #

    I’m definitely still in stage 1 – Trauma and Crisis. D-Day was 13 Feb. I uncovered my spouse’s EA by sheer fluke on an old email trail. After confronting him I got the “we’re just good friends” nonsense but I had the proof and he didn’t realise that. Even when I pointed it out, he then denied the seriousness of it. Slowly over a period of 3 days, admitting more and more details, the lies and deceit have astounded me. It’s like peeling an onion. More layers every day and each one make me cry.

    This was my husband of 20 years – who I thought I knew inside-out. The full-on EA actually finished over 10 months ago (they both called it off before it became sexual knowing that a full relationship was impractical due to living locations and our respective family situations) but it nonetheless consisted of 6 months of secret lunches/drinks/coffees outside of work and constant texts repeated & lying. They kissed passionately a few times he has told me but not more. I believe that he became infactuated with her – I don’t call it love (that would be too painful)….but although they decided to pull back after 6 months and no longer meeting up, they were still texting each other 2/3 times a week until I found out this week – nearly a year later. Those messages weren’t flirtatious or explicit but continuing the contact and trying to row back to being “normal friends” in my view was dangerous and a fallacy.

    I asked him to immediately disengage from her – which he has done but I can see he’s sad about it.

    I know he didn’t seek it out – we had been having marital difficulties (drifting apart) for several years and she met his emotional needs i guess. The only problem there though is that it made our marriage worse because he was emotionally unavailable for me! It stopped us trying to sort our own problems out.

    We finally got round to talking honestly about our marriage in December last year and we resolved to try and make it work. I had no inkling at the time about the EA. We had been doing brilliantly until Feb 13…when I discovered the dodgy emails. Now I feel angry that he never told me in December (when I specifically asked if there was a 3rd party) and that it’s put us back so far 🙁

    Despite everything I love him and I want our marriage to survive. I can see he does too. I’m not sure though that he really understands the pain he’s caused. It’s horrific, physical, searing pain like I’ve never known. I can’t imagine ever being able to trust him again and for me that was always my “red line”. Funny that now I’m in this situation it’s not so easy!

  6. Hopeful February 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

    This is timely. We are coming up on 2 years since dday 1. I would say we have been solid in stage 4 for a long time. But recently, the past few days, we have moved to stage 5. I did not really know when and how we would get to this stage. I do feel that it will always be part of our marriage but at this point we use it as a talking point and a topic that we address related to our current reality. At this point I feel he is more affected and hurt by what he did. I will never forget but it sits with him more. Moving forward I know for both of us it is a priority to put in the most effort into our marriage and not lose sight of what happened.

    • Hope Eternal February 17, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

      Hopeful – This is heartening indeed to hear after only being 5 days into my own nightmare. I wish that I could fast forward time….2 years seems like a long time for me right now. Interesting that he’s affected more now than before. I think that’s a really good thing.

      • Hopeful February 19, 2017 at 1:25 am #

        Hope Eternal,

        I am so sorry you are here. None of us would wish it on anyone. It is a really hard place those early days and months. Just remember to take it easy on yourself and to take care of yourself. What you said at the end is so true. I thought I would never tolerate something like this in our marriage. My husband had two affairs over 10 years. One was very sporadic only in person 3-4 times (I actually do not remember what he told me at this point which is a good sign) and sometimes no contact for 6-12 months at a time. The other one was a little more frequent but still sporadic. However he carried on like this for 10 years. Not good. That alone was hard to accept. And we had lots of good times in there. I can see now when he was on edge or moody was probably when the affairs were active and when he would warm up to me was probably while they were not in contact or had not been for a while. No way to know this though. I had asked him through the years if he had any contact with other women of any kind. I am not stupid that this is possible but he said no way absolutely not.

        I think the first step is deciding if you want to try and work this out. It sounds like you do. I just want to say you can only control your decisions and actions. That alone was hard for me to handle. I was the model wife and we had/have a great life together, but that never stopped him from what he did since it was about him and his issues. No matter how thin, pretty, great of a mother, wife… none of it mattered. He is very successful and has been from a young age and continues to be. We worked through the first several months together but after dday 2 he suggested I see a therapist. He is in the mental health field so he was not interested in going with me. But I have chosen not to tell anyone so he thought it would be helpful for me to have that support just for me. This turned out to be a great idea and worked for us. My therapist has been happy how it turned out since they were unsure without my husband’s participation. But it has worked out. I will say my husband has put in major effort and thought every day to get to this point. I think part of our fast (or at least what I consider fast) healing is due to our knowledge from the start. Even though he is the professional after being married so long being there during his education and training I know a lot. But I would say at least consider seeing a therapist that specializes in therapy related to betrayal but select one that supports repairing the marriage if possible since that is your goal. They do not all support a woman staying in these situations. I travel what I consider a far distance since I wanted someone who was licensed, with the specific affair/betrayal experience, and lots of years of experience. It has been so worth it!

      • Hopeful February 19, 2017 at 1:41 am #

        I thought I would type this in a separate text…

        I think we all have our own timeline for healing and none of us knows how long it will take. Be patient. Do not put pressure on yourself to feel a certain way by a certain time. We decided early on to discuss the affairs once a week. We picked a time and day each week based on our schedules. This helped us both mentally prepare however we did not talk about it all the time and make it the focus of our entire lives. I would journal usually every day. Sometimes I would write but many times I just wrote lists of questions or letters to my husband. What I found helpful was I would look back over my notes from the week. These helped me see patterns and what was really bothering me. I knew I could not just rant all of my thoughts and questions since that would not be productive in the end. I also found things that bothered me one day I could care less about 3 days later or other things bothered me for weeks and I kept bringing them up. By doing this I made sure to have my thoughts together and I was able to be more concise and feel more resolved at the end of the conversation. I was also less emotional which was helpful in order to be more productive. I would refer to these notes before therapy too.

        The first year was rough. I would say from dday 2 which at 5 months until about 11/12 months was the hardest time. The initial sting was over but it was setting in. This was when we really worked on establishing boundaries. This was crucial. My husband wanted me more than anything to trust him eventually. This was just too hard. The first step was setting boundaries. Let me know if you want to hear more about those.

        After the one year mark we were doing well but then I had feelings of what felt like we were settling back into our old ways. It was summer so he was busier golfing than the first summer since he turned down a lot that summer. Just a lot of things. Nothing bad but it just felt too ordinary. I sat him down and explained that even though things were so much better than pre dday My expectations have elevated and I needed more from him.

        The flip side was once I was really done coping with the worst pain my husband started to reveal how much he had hurt himself. I mean I know these were his decisions etc. But I had the impression if he did these stupid things he must have been having the time of his life. Well that was far from the truth. The first time sounded like a thrill since it was sneaky but then it was a slippery slope and as he said he felt like he could not turn back and he feared I would leave him and take the kids and he would ruin everything. He did end both affairs a year before dday but he just looked at everything so different. He said he hated even seeing his reflection in the mirror for ten years. I mean he was miserable and it showed. He always blamed work stress. Over time we talked a lot about how he felt before, during and after the affairs. This was eye opening.

        I will say my husband is a totally different person now than he even was dday, 6 months after dday too. I think he was in self preservation mode. He told me on dday he had no idea if I would ask him to leave and change locks or who knows what. He said he repressed as much as he could about the affairs since he vowed to not do it ever again. I could go on and on but all I can say is my husband has evolved. He firmly believes it takes 6 months to change behaviors no matter what they are. Even though he had ended his affairs it was a huge shift for him to call me during lunch or text me while out with friends but we established some pretty set boundaries that allowed me to consider the possibility of trusting him again.

        Sorry this is so long. We both feel sad and he I think honestly feels worse than I do at this point that this ever happened. But we both say we are glad it came out. We cannot change the past but we have both made a major effort to save our relationship. It is better than ever on every level. I will never say it is perfect and honestly I have come to grips with the fact this is a part of it forever. It does come up from time to time but in a constructive way.

        One last thing, I can tell my husband is a new person and he is happier than ever but when he told me his biggest priority is to be the best husband and father and to live his life with transparency and honesty at all times. He said he thinks and acts as if I am next to him at all times. He said he loves it and feels better than ever. He said that he was so selfish before but he now realizes that when he considers us as his first priority he is always happier.

        Keep your hope and ask any questions!!

        • Hope Eternal February 19, 2017 at 2:34 pm #

          Thank you Hopeful. It was so useful to hear all that. I’m now resigning myself to 2017 being the hardest year but it can only get better – I hope! It’s so good to read all the experiences others have had. It really has helped me.

          After 6 days, I’ve calmed down but now I just feel like one minute I’m fine, then next overwhelmingly sad. My world has tilted on its axis.

          Irritatingly, I’ve had the sense all week that my husband hasn’t really understood the damage he’s caused. He’s struggled to say sorry – I think in part because he confessed to me that he loved the EA and the relationship ended through circumstance. She cut him dead and in his words he was “heartbroken”. Its almost as if he thought he needed the sympathy. Not a chance.

          Now he says so much time has passed that he doesn’t feel love anymore but remains deeply affected by it and the EA cutting him off for a while.

          The ongoing problem for me I suspect will be that he never “chose” me or the children. He chose her. It was only because she halted it that I have a marriage today. That’s a hard one.

          Despite that, I think because we’ve faced up to our issues which were nothing to do with the EA, he is telling me that he absolutely loves me and wants our marriage to continue.

          Today I printed out some of the PDF’s from this site and insisted he read them. Wow – that was when the penny finally dropped for him. Up to that point, I just don’t think he understood the enormity of what he had done – nor had shown any real sense of remorse. Since he’s read “understanding your wife’s pain” in particular he has been a different person. After reading through the material – he immediately apologised – really apologised and since then has been just so attentive to my feelings and needs.

          I have asked him to come to couples counselling – he has agreed and hopefully our first session will be next week.

          I have wondered if there is more for him to confess with any other women in the past. He says no, but honestly I wouldn’t be surprised now. He is very sociable, handsome, charismatic and has a powerful job…an aphrodisiac to some. He works with many beautiful professional women and often travels and attends work social events. In my presence he flirts (harmlessly) but after a drink or two in social situations on his own I could see that this may send the wrong messages and end up in him being inappropriate.

          Depressingly I’ve been scouring his old emails to find evidence. None to date, so maybe that’s the paranoia kicking in!

          I love the last paragraph that you wrote above – it’s absolutely where he needs to get to if we are to succeed…I need him to think and act as if I am next to him at all times.

          Thank you so much x

          ps – is it bad that I am desperate to keep snooping on his phone for other indiscretions? I’m not wanting to do it for fear of feeding my paranoia and making it worse. And honestly, what would it solve?

          • Hopeful February 20, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

            Hope Eternal,

            I think you sound like you are doing well. This will be a process for both of you. I think it is good you have worked through a lot and I can see where he might not understand how bad this is for you. I think typically women feel things more deeply and men can repress and compartmentalize more easily. Again a stereotype but this is how it is for us. I do stress though for us my husband really acted like he was fine that entire first year after dday and even now he gets more emotional than I do when the topic comes up. For me it is matter of fact. For him he gets teary and just the other night he was all sad and saying how he was such a bad husband and how disgusted he is with himself and how amazing I am and always have been and that I never deserved that. It is still hitting him now. And he is bringing this stuff up.

            As far as looking I did the same thing. I looked for probably 4-5 months. I am not saying it was healthy. My husband did not tell me who the two women were. I did not know them. But by looking at phone records and using phonedetective.com I figured it out. Not sure if that was good but I felt the need to. Basically what I looked up led to dday 2. He minimized and shaved years off of both affairs to make I guess himself look better. I also found a fake email and a fake fb page. I knew the fake fb page existed. The only reason I asked my husband any questions is he went out of town and left his ipad behind for the first time ever. At one am I heard it ping and found it. Well there were what I would call questionable texts. Nothing horrible but flirting for sure. So I stayed up all night taking screen shots of his fb page, photos, call logs, emails everything…At that point I did not know what I would find so I wanted all of the information. I even printed off some things too and put them away for safe keeping.

            Over the months I found IM history with women from online poker games. I could go on and on. It was almost like I could not stop looking. I felt like I had to keep looking. It did give me some purpose and satisfaction. I did confront him on all of the things and basically he said he didn’t say anything since he felt like the physical affairs were so bad. And this stuff was stupid. He had not used the IM account in four years. And his fake email was basically to support his fake fb page. His two affair partners did not know about all of this fake stuff. It a way I was irritated but it also showed me how lost and messed up he was. In the end he was having two affairs and doing all of this stuff. So messed up. And working, being a dad and husband and doing it all well.

            So no I do not think you are crazy. We had lots of highs and lows. And honestly I think in many cases it is not just one thing or one time. It is rare that someone drinks and drives one time. I am not saying it never happens but for my husband this happened because of who he was, his decisions and he shifted his boundaries to what he thought was acceptable.

            I was checking in on his two ap, checking all of these different spots and one day it just got to be too much. I realized when I was doing it I always felt worse afterwards. I realized I needed to move on if I wanted to be happy. I even thought about putting a gps on his car but in the end I will never have access to his work email or phone at work. So I will never know what goes on there. I decided I needed to build our trust between us. If I had a question I needed to ask. A lot of the boundaries we have set relate to this. It can be hard at times but we have moved so far. My husband is really successful, high achieving, people want to be around him, handsome, everyone feels great when they are around him. He says it is not like women flock to him but these two zeroed in on him so I know what you mean. The one worked for three years to get his cell number and wore him down. She would find out where he would be and show up. I think drinking was a big factor for my husband too. He would have never done any of this sober. So lots of boundaries related to that.

            I will say the only thing I will look at is his find my iphone app while he is out to confirm that he is where he says he is. He has no idea how this even works. Part of our boundaries is I have all of his passwords to everything except his work email due to confidentiality. And his work calls that go to his office of course. So i have everything bank accounts, credit cards…

            You are doing so well. You will get through this and that is great you have an appointment coming up!

          • Ironsides February 27, 2017 at 6:40 pm #

            Turning off the paranoia is super difficult, I know. I did the same, ad its even worse for me. I happen to be a networking and computer security expert, so I was able to dig into some pretty unreachable places to see what was going on. It resulted in 3 additional D-Days from things I discovered well after things were supposedly over.

  7. Jane February 19, 2017 at 1:35 am #

    My first D-Day was December 24, 2013. I say my instead of we because my husband continues to deny there was any type of affair. Still becomes angry and threatens to leave if I attempt to discuss the affair with him. My second D-Day was June 4, 2015. This was with another woman that works with him. I have absolute proof of both affairs because of phone records that include detailed text messaging. I also found prescriptions for Viagra and Cialis, along with lubrication in a tube, hidden in my husband’s car. My husband denies both affairs. Both affairs overlapped. Since my husband refuses to admit to the affairs, refuses to go to marital counseling, and becomes angry and defensive if I even mention anything at all about reconciling our marriage, I would say we are stuck in stages 1 and 2. One of our older children was asked about the affairs by a person in our town. I have not told anyone so I guess my husband either shared his affairs with this person or my husband’s affair partners shared the information. Our son confronted his father/my husband with the information. My husband denied the affairs and told our son he would leave home if he continued to bring up the topic.
    Now, my husband complains everyday about his health. I think the ‘hair shirt’ he has created for himself has filled him with guilt and shame. My husband continues to work with the second woman. I have asked my husband to please tell me the truth and/or go to individual counseling. He will not. I feel like my choices are, one, continue to live in this miserable marriage or two, file separation papers. What should I do? Thank you for listening.

    • TheFirstWife February 19, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

      Dear Jane. I am so sorry that you are in this position. Please know that so many of us identify with all that you are going through and we are here to be a sounding board for your pain and frustration.

      I identify with your experience with your husband because I had the same situation with mine. My husband had an EA for four years but would never admit to a thing. He wouldn’t admit the relationship crossed the line, he would not admit it was inappropriate, and he would not admit there was even anything wrong with what he was doing

      The only reason I have any proof is because during his last affair three years ago he admitted to that other woman that he did have an emotional affair but would never admit it to me, his wife.

      My H did the same thing – deny, gaslight, stonewall, deflect – silent treatment. That is all typical cheater behavior that many of us have seen from our cheating spouse.

      It is meant to deflect the situation. As long as you understand where they are coming from, you can understand the cheater behavior and mentality.

      That being said, I think you know exactly what your husband has done.whether he admits to it or not has no bearing on anything. You are looking for validation and confirmation but deep down you know he has cheated.

      The bigger question is where do you go from here. My therapist would tell me when confronted with these situations that you have options. Knowing that right now your husband is not willing to admit to anything leaves you with only a few options. My suggestion is that you get counseling for yourself. Not marital counseling. Counseling for you to learn how to deal with this current situation.

      Regarding your marriage you have a few options. If you can learn to except your husband for the liar and cheater that he is you can try to save your marriage. Many people live with a spouse who is a serial cheater and they except the person for exactly what they are.

      For some people cheating is a dealbreaker and it leads to the end of the marriage.

      For others, the cheating spouse comes to their senses and makes a commitment to the marriage and tries to be a better spouse

      It remains to be seen as to what your husband will do in the future. He could be a serial cheater and continue this pattern of behavior.

      But more importantly, I believe it is up to you to be able to stand on your own 2 feet and get through this extremely challenging time. It doesn’t appear as though your husband is willing to do anything at this time to rectify the situation.

      But I think it’s more important that you find someone who can support you and help you navigate this extremely challenging situation. Your counselor will be able to help you get through this and start to make decisions about your future with your spouse.

      I wish you all the best and I hope that you are able to work through this. Please use the resources available on this blog to help you.

      At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what your husband will or will not admit to. I think you have enough evidence to know what has going on with him and these other women.

      It is said that the person you love and trust the most has the ability to behave in this manner. My husband now has deep regrets about all that has gone on in the past and wishes it had never occurred. Maybe one day your husband will admit the same thing to you.

    • Hopeful February 20, 2017 at 3:47 pm #


      That is just horrible. Just based on his behavior and the evidence you have it seems that he is feeling the guilt. Who knows what he is still up to. I know for my husband he was miserable. He always blamed work stress but he still has lots of work stress and he is so happy still. He finds happiness in being able to communicate with me and share.

      Have you seen an individual therapist? That might help you navigate this and get the support you need. The one thing I learned in this process is I cannot control my husband really ever. And once I started to find my footing and feel better he started moving in a better direction. And he said on dday even though his affairs ended he had no idea if he should or even wanted to stay married. He basically gave himself 6 months to try his hardest. So I think focusing on you and your needs is crucial. It has to be so hard he is angry and then your child hearing about this would be the last straw for me. But I hate to give up on a marriage that is why I say working with a therapist might help you move through this so you make the best of it for you and your kids regardless of what he chooses to do with his life.

  8. Hope Eternal February 19, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

    ….Oh and I would like to hear more about the boundaries you set for him. For me because of his flirtatious nature, that’s a really important one.

    • Hopeful February 20, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

      Hope Eternal,

      This was a work in progress and since he is a mental health professional he had a lot of ideas and my therapist helped too. I will say my biggest hesitation was I felt like I was being his mom and that is so not me. So my therapist basically gave me permission to tell him what I needed to even consider trusting him again much less starting that process.

      My main goal was in the beginning what situations allowed him to act this way. Obviously he made some poor decisions but in the end I think situations played into it a lot. And in the beginning besides two trips he had planned he turned town everything. Really the first 6 months was just about us being around each other all the time except for work. And honestly the first 6 months were just dealing with discovery and facing the pain.

      Here are boundaries we put in place: if you want to go out you need to talk with me first not just check the calendar, I need to be told who, when, where. If any of that changes before or during your time away I need to be texted or called. And no more texting me when you want to do something. He was famous for saying I am going golfing friday at 3 with… Well it was telling me and not giving any details. I won’t let me kids ask for permission over text either. When he does go out we talk about it together before he goes out. We basically set the expectation for how much he will drink and how late he will stay out. At first I hated this but I can tell he feels better. He honestly never thought about it and just went out and had fun and that does not work for him. Even if he is doing nothing “wrong” he is not at his happiest. He tends to put others/friends first so he would stay out drinking drive them home far distances over thinking about himself. He would come home and say I wanted to leave 3 hours ago but felt I had to stay. So this has worked for us. While out he texts me with updates or just getting in touch. He never did this before but he started this on his own since he wanted to check in with me.

      During his work day he calls during lunch and after work. If he will be late at all or something is not typical or as planned he calls me. He helps out more with household responsibilities and the kids. He would help but really only when he had to in the past. We do not watch tv separately ever. We go to bed at the same time. We eat as many meals together as possible.

      I also had to set specific limits on his cell phone use. He was only texting his friends but it was extreme. I pulled up his text history and it was something like 8 times or maybe more than that of my usage and more than our kids who text all the time. I know he is on group texts and he would let me see anything but it was too constant.

      He had those trips planned before dday so we talked and he still went on them. He has gone away at other times but with lots of discussion. When out of town he needs to be reachable at all times except when on the airplane. If I call and he cannot answer I expect a call back asap. He explains every detail of the trip before he leaves. Things that are not decided he keeps me up to date. As with at home we talked about how late he would be out and how much they would drink.

      And I guess I left this out since it has been so long since I thought about it. Any contact by the ow needs to be told to me immediately and we decide together how or if he responds. Besides the ow if there is any contact with women beyond professional, family or friends if he is setting up something with our couple friends that I am included on. If anything even questionable happens he needs to tell me asap. A perfect example is a mutual acquaintance of both of us followed him to his car after a golf play day and was pressuring him to go out with the group. He had decided on his own to go home and had texted me. He wanted to go home and had to slam his car door closed while she kept talking to him and telling him how much she liked him and did not want to wait another year to see him. He came home and told me immediately. He said he thought about not telling me since he did not want me to act different around her. I am not close to her at all but I told him the right thing was to tell me.

      Through all of this I have told him what works for me. If he calls or texts me I tell him that it helps me or I like it. Really whatever my reaction is. these boundaries have evolved over time but as you can see they focus on friend, drinking and social time. At home besides the high cell phone use and helping out more he is good. Granted we are so close now. If he did not like the show I was watching he would go to another room. Where now he says he just wants to be with me and that is what matters. And I am flexible with him. I think it is different for everyone.

      We talk about future plans and he is so good about checking with me. We talk through the ideas of what is being proposed especially for overnight trips. It helps that we can talk about it so easily. If something bothers me I say it. He works hard to pick and choose what he wants to do and listens to what I need.

      In the end that statement of how he lives his life is what he needed to get to. I think all of these efforts have paid off. At first he would forget and it seemed awkward for both of us. He told me recently he hated going out since he was always worried about me. Now it is second nature. He says every time I should call him if I need anything and I believe it. He says professionally it takes 6 months to change any behavior and I found that was true for him/us. After we got the rhythm of this down then my expectations elevated. We continue to work and see how this evolves but we are vigilant and put ourselves and our marriage first.

      • Hope Eternal February 21, 2017 at 3:55 pm #

        Thank you. That is all really good to know. It’s so useful to hear about what has worked for you guys.

        Sadly, at my end and as I suspected, there is more that he hasn’t told me about. I was sure he was still lying and sure enough having gone through more emails I found that after his EA ended and he was in the depths of despair, it seems as though he had a one night stand. I am just dumb with shock and anger. I have asked him repeatedly for full disclosure. I’m so frustrated with him. I only found out today and he’s not home yet. I’m not giving him any chance to think up answers in advance so tonight is going to be interesting to say the least.

        Oddly, I don’t feel like a did the first time. I feel strangely calm. I think I know why he didn’t tell me (because I told him that sleeping with someone would be my red line crossed) and he wants our marriage to work.

        I feel like I’m living in a total nightmare, like I’m drowning.
        Still wish I could fast forward to the future…..

        • Shifting Impressions February 21, 2017 at 4:28 pm #

          Hope Eternal
          I am so sorry to hear that………it is a nightmare for sure.
          I think that full disclosure is highly unusual……the deceit or dribbling of the truth seems to be more of the norm.

          This new information can give you more personal power than you might realize. I would ask once again if there is more info….give him one more chance to tell the truth. When he denies you then have proof of the deceit…….that is your moment to set the boundaries, whatever those might be. This is only my opinion of course but it is the plan I have set out for myself should I find out more has happened than he has admitted to.

          He has alway refused to go for counseling….in my case that would be boundary # one.

          The calmness will stand you in good stead for the moment as you confront…..but I imagine the shock will wear off and you will fall apart. Please take care of you first.

          Thinking of you

        • TheFirstWife February 21, 2017 at 7:52 pm #

          Hope Eternal. I am so sorry for you. I know how it feels when you are trying to keep your marriage from crumbling and are working hard / to find out you are still being lied to.

          It is like being devastated all over again

          Just know that it is typical behavior for the lying to continue. To hide the facts and giving a lot if “I don’t know andwers”.

          Yes it is maddening and detrimental to the marriage. But slmost everyone here will admit it happened to them. Like typical cheater behavior.

          Please don’t take it personally. The cheater may not be willing to admit to anything you don’t have verifiable proof for. It is just standard cheater behavior.

          Please note my H had me convinced he was giving 120% to our marriage after DDay2 and it seemed he was doing everything possible to get our marriage back on track. When I found out he lied about all of it I was devastated.

          That was when I almost divorced him!!

          Please make sure you let him know you know he is lying. Call him on it. It doesn’t have to be confrontational but it has to stop for the sake of your marriage. Lying should not be an option.

          I swear it is like having young children. Maddening.

        • Hopeful February 22, 2017 at 2:30 am #

          Hope eternal,

          I am so sorry. This is all too familiar to many of us. I feel bad for what you are going through. It is not fair but the calm you speak of will help you as SI said.

          I know my husband just did not want to even admit to himself what he has done. He was hoping to do damage control too. He wanted to minimize damage. I knew things were off. It took us 5 months till dday 2 and after that I had to push him. What he did not realize is he was breaking my trust more each time. It was already gone but basically it moved into the negative I guess. He really did a lot of damage. He sees that now but at the time he could not. It all came to a head 9 months after dday while on vacation I came unglued on him. Maybe it was what I needed to do/say and for him to hear.

          Hang in there we are here for you!

  9. Hope Eternal March 10, 2017 at 9:22 am #


    Thank you! This website is a Godsend! It’s sometimes such a comfort to know that so many others have faced similar things and to hear advice.

    It’s coming up to 4 weeks since my D-Day now. I’m just exhausted with the sheer emotion of it all. My husband and I have had our first counselling session which went well. We’ve decided to focus initially on discussing the issues in our marriage prior to the EA – as to be honest those were the underlying problems in the first place. Our view is that if we can fix those, which we’ve made so much progress on already, then we’ll come good eventually.

    However – the EA, his reasons for engaging it, his thoughts during it and his feelings after it are also key things to discuss. I do see it as a separate topic though. I’d like to think that he would not have engaged in the EA if our marriage had been in better shape. In reality, we really can’t ever know that, so it’s a waste of energy thinking about it really. It helps me to tell myself though that the lost emotional connection between us was one of the primary reasons that he felt compelled to stray.

    I don’t want excuse his behaviour or his poor choices but I do kind of understand the predicament he found himself in. What I also need him to do is to take full ownership of his bad choices and vocalise them back to me. He hasn’t done that yet. I see he is making a massive effort with me generally but I still need to hear him say what is sorry for….not just the general words, I’m sorry. Does that make sense?

    Day to day I’m struggling. I feel elated when we’re together but when he’s at work my anxiety goes through the roof. I’ve never been an anxious person but I’ve become neurotic. And it’s not based on anything other than my obsessing over it all, every second. I’ve struggled to concentrate on anything since it happened. Having read up a lot about it, it seems that this oscillation between happy and sad/depressed is normal but I’m exhausted by it.

    ….and because I want our time together to be positive and not overwhelm “our” moments with negativity I’m not really telling him how upset I am everyday. I must cry at least 7 times a day!!! I’m amazed my body can still churn out the tears! I want to tell him this at our next therapy session so that he really gets how much pain he’s caused.

    I still think that deep down, he probably feels relieved that it’s all out and that life’s a breeze…whereas all the bad feelings have now transferred me. So unfair.

    • Shifting Impressions March 10, 2017 at 11:40 am #

      Hope Eternal
      I Also wondered if I would ever stop crying. I believe it is crucial that the BS see the pain they have caused. We shouldn’t shelter them from the consequences of their poor choices.

      This is about you…….you are allowed to grieve, feel angry and cry. In my opinion, it’s not your job to protect his feelings.

      In what other scenario does the victim have to put the feelings of the perbatrator first??

      As for sorting out the state of the marriage prior the affair……..I would not have been able to do that without dealing with the affair first. You are in no way to blame or responsible for you partners choice to have an affair.

      I can honestly say I do not feel one ounce of sympathy for my husband, regarding the affair.

      We all have choices…..choosing to cheat is a very poor choice and there are consequences. And yes it is all so unfair……and they need to hear that.

    • Tired March 14, 2017 at 1:27 am #

      Hope Eternal. I am so sorry this has happened to you. I agree with your last comment that he feels life is a breeze and it is very unfair that all the bad feeling has transferred to you. I feel the same. My husband wonders why I’m still so upset by his betrayal. He seems to think that because it was only emotional it was not so bad. But there was serious deception. Secret phones, texting, dinners out. And it was only that I caught him the day it was about to become physical that it stayed an EA. When I caught him and threw him out he also blamed the affair on me. I didn’t support him. She understood him better. Duh, of course she understood his work situation better than I did. She worked there too! I couldn’t have a child and he wants children…after telling me for years that he didn’t want them and it would not matter. And we don’t even know for sure that the problem is not him!

      I also feel our marriage was not in a good place but it was not all my fault. And after a year of trying to ‘meet his needs’ I am getting resentful. Why should I meet his needs when he just wants to sweep everything under the carpet? He is not meeting my need to discuss it. I told him last night week that I was sick of him painting himself as the victim and that he has to fix it. He has been a bit more understanding since then.

      Like you, I also became very anxious. I had to leave a job because I was so anxious about what he was doing while I was on night shifts. And this is because he didn’t end it immediately but kept allowing her to contact him. By the time I left my job there was no contact at all, but I couldn’t tell that to my hypervigilant brain!

      Sometimes I think I will never get over it. Our discoveries are relatively recent, but other people on this site are still in agony years after the affairs ended.

  10. Ironsides March 10, 2017 at 11:23 am #

    A lot of the advice I have seen from therapists who specialize in affair recovery seem to suggest that focusing on healing the trauma of the affair needs to come first before you try and fix the deficiencies in the marriage that made the relationship vulnerable to the affair. You need to heal you above all. Whether you end up together or separate, you still need to be whole and ok with your life.

    Wishing you well and success.

  11. Shifting Impressions March 10, 2017 at 11:44 am #

    Hope Eternal
    Also remember it’s only been four weeks……..you are probably still in shock. It’s all so fresh….it’s about you right now.

  12. thina March 13, 2017 at 5:21 am #

    i can say im on stage 1 and 2 discovered the affair on the 15th of february 2017.it has been going on for over a year now a child was born as a result of that.i knew the lady as she was introduced to me as a friend and she knew my family.we have tried to resolve the issue but the affair is still going on even though he promised to end it.there are times where i think ending this relationship will be best for my child and I but i really want to make this marriage work as i do love my husband.we did a lot of talking about this but he seems to be so undecided.

    • Tired March 14, 2017 at 12:57 am #

      Thina, I think you should ask your husband to leave. Only then will he realise what he has to lose. You can not allow him to have both of you. It will just teach him that you will accept bad treatment from him. My heart goes out to you. My husband was thrown out the moment I caught him kissing the other woman. It is a long story and I’ve posted elsewhere on this site. Even though the physical affair never quite got off the ground after that night, the emotional affair still continued for a further three months even after he came back home. In the end he had to realise for himself that he could not ever fix the problems between us with this woman influencing him. I suspected there was still contact but I had no proof. He only told me months later. Ask your husband to leave and be prepared to follow through. And if he does come back and you suspect he is still in touch with this woman don’t allow it as I did. A suspicion should have been enough for me.

  13. Tired March 14, 2017 at 1:07 am #

    I don’t know what stage I am in. I am still so angry but it fluctuates. My husband’s emotional affair finally ended in December 2015 after 3 months of hell. This ongoing anger is because I got trickle truth and more lies even after the affair was discovered. I have recently found out that this woman has just got engaged and is 4 months pregnant to another man. Gosh she works fast!

    I think I am so infuriated because we had fertility issues and she used that to get my husband to open up to her. That’s how the EA started. I always suspected that because of her culture she was desperate to get married as she was over thirty. Now it seems as though she was merely looking for a sperm donor! And it didn’t matter if the man was someone else’s husband! Some people have no morals at all.

    I am angry at her and my husband as well. It still seems as though he was so willing to toss me aside as I was of no use to him. Well now he must be able to see her for what she is. It is obvious to everyone else. Sorry for the vent.

    • TheFirstWife March 15, 2017 at 11:34 pm #

      Tired. I understand how you feel. You gave your best to someone who did not appreciate at the time what he had.

      Your H violated the commitment you had and went outside the marriage and was involved with someone else.

      Do you feel you have forgiven your H? It doesn’t mean you forget his affair but it can release the anger you feel. It can take a long time to be able to forgive someone.

      Once you can release your anger you may be able to move past the affair.

      My H asked for a divorce a number of times including during a difficult time with a very sudden death in the family. It was awful – I had just found out he was still cheating and dealing with a death.

      I have to remind myself that I know he has changed and has deep regret for his actions and isctrying every day to make amends. His behavior has changed. Not all at once and not without some difficult times. But he has changed.

      If you feel your H has changed and is truly sorry you may be able to get past this.

      However if you feel he is not sorry and just doesn’t get it, then you will have a difficult time dealing with this and healing.

      Only you will know how you feel.

  14. Puzzled March 18, 2017 at 11:54 am #

    Tired: TheFirstWife usually has some great responses and this is another one. Forgiveness is difficult but so critical to healing yourself. I’ll never forget what my wife did, the things she said, or the way I was treated. But, until I truly forgave her, I could never be where I am today. Our marriage is different now. Better in most ways but different. I’m guarded and still mindful of what she did. But my hurt and fears seem to be disappearing. I just passed year 2 from d-day #1. It was the “I love you but not in love with you” & “I’m unhappy and have been for years” nonsense. I didn’t understand at the time what was going on. It’s sadly a day that will forever be branded in my memory. I worry about D-day #2 when I found out there actually was someone else. Oddly, she probably didn’t even remember it was D-day #1. But I’m hopeful that as the years go by, so will the memories.

  15. Rachel March 18, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

    Forgive, never. Forget, never. Move on, absolutely!!😁

  16. Tired March 20, 2017 at 6:37 am #

    TFW and Puzzled. Thank you. I do need to forgive him, but this is much harder than I thought. I swing from acceptance to anger. Just when I think I have released the anger it comes out of nowhere again. I feel my anger is doing further damage to our relationship.

    It’s just the selfishness of it all. TFW, I know how hard it must have been for you dealing with a death and his ongoing cheating.

    I think my husband is sorry…so sorry he can’t bear for it to be mentioned. And that makes me angrier. But he is sorry and ashamed and is doing little things every day to make it up. Except if I mention it….

    Three weeks before he affair started we were having the time of our lives in spain. When I look at those photos my husband looks so happy. Yet I also got the ‘haven’t been happy for years nonsense’ like you did Puzzled. It is not true. It seems he only realised he was not happy when there was an opportunity to cheat. How convenient. The fact my husband has lied to himself about this and has rewritten our marital history really annoys me. Although I suspect he knows he is guilty of this.

    I have guilt as well. I may have missed opportunities to stop this. There were times when he would say ‘you don’t love me’ or ‘you don’t touch me enough’ and I know I brushed this off as him being needy. Lesson learned. However it’s a lot harder to want to meet his needs now that he has cheated. Sometimes I feel he has a hide to even ask that! However, that attitude will not help us fix things.

    Anyway, you are right. Time will heal everything. But he’s lost his sweet innocence to me. I think that will be permanent.

    • TheFirstWife March 20, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

      Tired. My therapist says the rose colored glasses are off after an affair. You no longer see the person in the same way you did before the affair.

      It took me yesrs to forgive. And I still get angry but I keep it in check. But there are times it comes out. Cannot be helped.

      Let go of your guilt. You did not do anything to cause his affair. Typical cheater mentality to blame the BS. Turn the tables and I am sure your H did things that were not perfect but it did not cause you to cheat. Cheating is a choice.

      If your H was not honest and did not share he wasn’t “happy” then shame on him. I heard the same crap from my H. Um seriously when did it become MY responsibility to make him happy? And if you don’t share your feelings then again, it’s your fault and your problem.

      So learn to accept your H for the liar and Cheater he was. Soooo hard! It took me years to get there but made a big difference in my life. I hope you can get there. I did with the hrlp of an excellent therapist.

  17. Puzzled March 22, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    Tired: Trust me, this is a day-to-day battle. There are some days that I feel a million miles away from the affair and the anger. But there are days when a trigger brings it right back. Luckily those days are becoming less and less. Forgiveness is difficult. Anger is a natural reaction. I was confused, hurt, lost, ANGRY!, sad, heart broken, depressed, and a whole lot of other things rolled up into a broken person. Forgiveness is a daily choice. It will come eventually. You have every right to be angry with your husband. The affair will change how you see your husband. TFW hit it on the head. The rose colored glasses are off. And that, to me, is the saddest part. The simple naive belief in “true love” with my wife is gone. She will never understand what she did. I’m certain of that. She knows that she “hurt” me. But she has no idea of the despair, anger, sadness, and torment that I dealt with. TFW is right on finding a counselor to talk with. I think that will help you sort through your feelings and find a path to recovery.
    Affairs don’t “just happen”. There are choices made. There are boundaries crossed. There is trust broken. There are consequences. You can get through this. You can be strong through this. It will be hard. There will be tears. But have faith in yourself. And have faith that good can rise up from the ashes.

  18. Shifting Impressions March 22, 2017 at 11:28 am #

    Damn, how I loved those “Rose coloured glasses”……..
    Puzzled you put that so well. I often think of one particular quote I read here somewhere “Along with my rose colored glasses you broke my heart”.

    • Puzzled March 23, 2017 at 10:22 pm #

      Shifting Impressions: I’m with you. Oh how I wish I could look through those glasses again. It would be so calming to feel secure and confident again. To be able to look at my wife in that innocent way again. Maybe someday. Maybe…

  19. Tired March 24, 2017 at 9:56 am #

    Thank you all of you. TFW, I think it becomes our responsibility to make them happy when they need an excuse to cheat. That’s the bottom line. I was not totally happy either, but I did not cheat although I have had ample opportunity if I had wanted to. If I tell my husband this he tells me I’m so self righteous. Well, no. I’m just not a cheat!

    Yes the rose colored glasses are off. I always thought my husband was a very honest man, but now I can see instances when he was dishonest. I did not register it at the time. He lied to his parents and told them we had broken up because they didn’t approve of our relationship. They wanted him to marry someone of his own culture and I’m older than him. He also lied to his siblings about a very personal matter because he was afraid of what they would say. I see now that he is only honest when it suits him…if someone will be angry at him he will lie so he doesn’t have to listen to their complaints and feel bad about himself.

    Puzzled, I think my husband’s understanding of my pain is also very superficial like your wife. He does not get it was a massive betrayal. In fact, I don’t think he really even believes he was having an affair. To him it was he didn’t realize what was happening until he stepped over the line. He thinks kissing her was wrong. But I think he has convinced himself that continuing to be in touch with her was just because he felt bad for hurting her. He doesn’t think that was a betrayal. Well I have no sympathy for her. She got exactly what she deserved. She knew he was married and went after him. And kept at him, even when he told her he wanted to work things out with me. Part of it was that she flattered his fragile ego I think.

    Perhaps we all overthink these things. After all, if he didn’t believe it was an affair maybe I’m working myself up over nothing. But it’s very hard with all the lies and trickle truth.

    I don’t blame myself TFW, but there are things I wish I had done differently. Not recognizing my husbands vulnerability and fragility is one of them. No one is perfect. We all need to feel loved and needed.

  20. Puzzled March 24, 2017 at 1:16 pm #

    I am certain that I’m guilty of overthinking this EA. But, I will always know it is not getting worked up over nothing. Our spouses made decisions that impacted us. Whether they didn’t mean for an affair to happen or not, they continued with the lies and betrayal (or at least my wife did). I’m still not sure that I’ll ever be “over” the affair. The biggest stumbling block is she has never told me who it actually was. She says it was someone from work and it stemmed from an emergency situation (my wife is a nurse). The other guy was working on the same patient and asked her to text him about the results. I still wonder how the hell she had this guy’s cell phone number if he worked in a different department. Things spiraled down from that first text to them texting often, when my wife was on vacation or with me, and ultimately when she texted him at 2 am and I caught her texting him. It still crushes me to remember the morning after her 2 am text when I asked her if there was someone else and she said no. I looked her in the eyes and said “Don’t lie to me. I think after 20 years, you owe me the truth.”
    And that’s where I stumble most: remembering what she put me through, how she treated me, the lies she told me, the venom from her words that would paralyze me…

  21. Puzzled March 24, 2017 at 1:19 pm #

    I needed to add about who the other guy was: my gut tells me it’s someone we know as a couple and she has chosen to protect him because of this. I’ve learned after dealing with this garbage for two years to trust my gut instinct. I found out for sure that there was an affair on June 12, 2015. I decided on Wednesday during my run (I do a lot of good thinking while running) that it’s been two years and she needs to confess. I’m not sure that I’ll ever get past this until I know the truth.

  22. Tired March 24, 2017 at 9:02 pm #

    Puzzled, I don’t think it’s fair that your wife won’t say who it is. It must be another nurse or perhaps a doctor from what you say. A doctor might leave his number with a nurse so she could call with results. Does that give you any ideas?

    I too have seen the venom and it’s very hard to get over. My husband was so nasty. When I found out about the affair I thought he would see I was hurt enough. But no, he had to go on blaming me for his affair and singing the praises of the other woman who ‘understood’ him. Yes, yes. They all say exactly the same thing. So unoriginal. I guess that’s why they call it the script.

    Puzzled, is the affair over or is it still going on?

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