The cheater’s behavior generally depends on how the loyal spouse is behaving.

Cheater’s Behavior

By Linda & Doug

A while ago, one of our readers wrote us a comment describing a tactic that was working well for him at the time. As a result of this tactic, his cheating wife started to come back to him and was asking for a “fresh start.”

Here is what he had to say…

Affairs are treacherous slopes that no one really knows how to navigate. Hell, I’m not even sure my wife is having one, but I use this site daily to rebuild myself.

The only thing I know is that my wife has met someone through work (same field so they don’t have to see each other every day, but can talk) who she has lied to me about, been at functions with, texted over 1000 times in the last 6 months, and had multiple conversations with.

In the first 3-4 months, her phone was often hidden, her behavior towards me was different, she seemed irritable and unhappy. She wouldn’t come out and tell me she didn’t love me, but she wasn’t putting effort into the marriage either.

Over the course of the last three months she seems to be acting different. I have since busted her out on the texts, calls, and lunches by snooping through her things – which she hated. She wants me to be normal, she wants me to be happy, she tells me she loves me, but she seems to have an addiction to this other person.

She has maintained the whole time that they are “just friends” and nothing is going on. She is adamant that nothing physical has happened, but emotionally I think she was making a connection with him and withdrawing from me.

We have had so many fights about this. I’ve packed my bags, I’ve left the house, she has begged me to return, she has told me she needs me, she tells me that I am making things up that aren’t there. It has been a roller coaster ride that I want off of.

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Things now seem to be back on the rise and have for a few months. She said she wants a “fresh start” between us and that she will only contact him when necessary. She has admitted that she liked the attention and that she was flattered. She also acknowledged that she took it over the limit.

As far as he goes, I don’t pay him any attention, because he is a scumbag as most OP’s are. I’d sit down to lunch with a terrorist before giving this clown the time of day.

The point is this…I truly don’t believe anyone wants to have an affair. I don’t believe my wife or any other person really wants to leave the marriage, but they become so tangled that they don’t know where to turn.

The CS turns cold, and lies. Then they begin to feel regret and act codependent on their spouse, then they let themselves get sucked back into the game and start all over. How they behave generally depends on how the loyal spouse is behaving.

Codependency: Don’t Fall Into This Trap – 5 Steps to Codependency Recovery

I’ve seen it played out over the last 7 months. When I am down, panicky, or constantly questioning (in other words not enjoying my life) she tends to pull away from me. When I put on a happy face and work on myself, she seems drawn to me.

Being codependent, clingy, emotional have done nothing for me, but standing up for myself and being confident seems to make me more appealing. It sucks that the majority of the work has to be done by me, but I believe in this marriage and am willing to work at it even if I am the only one putting forth the effort.

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We have 14 years of history and 4 great kids, so there is a lot to be proud of and thankful for. So each day I am focusing on the good and realizing that I don’t control her, I can’t stop her, and I can’t make decisions for her.

Eventually most people who have affairs see the error of their ways, but how quickly that happens depends a lot on how the partner who is suffering handles themselves.

When you portray confidence and enjoy who you are (which some days is impossible to pull off when you are suffering) the CS begins to look at EVERYTHING they have and say “Why would I risk all of this for someone I barely know?” It doesn’t mean they stop the behavior immediately, but I do believe that over time they figure out what is right.

You may wonder how in the world you can manage to act happy and confident when you feel as though your world is falling apart. How do you push the negative feelings aside? It just feels like it is so incredibly difficult.

This task is not an easy one and I think the answer is that your focus has to shift away from the BS. Create some distance in a loving way. Take care of you. Get your nails done, go see a movie, do something you enjoy, but do it all with a smile on your face.

I reserve my saddest moments for my drives to and from work. But once I get home, I’m super dad and a loving husband. She is either gonna pull herself out of this and love “us” or she is gonna get sick of it and leave because the guilt is eating her alive. But I made the decision months ago to stop giving her the power.

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Yes, I have plenty of anxious moments, but she will never see them again. I speak my mind, I keep the house running, and I make every effort to include her in everything. It isn’t easy, and some days it feels impossible.

You can do it, because in the end, No CS can keep having their cake and eat it to, eventually the fantasy or the reality falls apart and they have to choose. By the time that day comes you will hopefully have taken so many measures to fix yourself that whatever they decide will be a relief for you and not a relapse in your recovery.

I’m focusing on being the best husband I can be within the scope of who I am. It has gotten me this far and I truly love my wife. I’m slowly learning that forgiveness is granted to those we love and if you want something bad enough, you have to go and get it.

Don’t let life pass you by because if you be yourself and are good to people, things will work out one way or another.


Please share your thoughts, experiences and advice in the comment section below.  Thanks!

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The Real Journey to Forgiveness
It’s for You, Not for Your Spouse

There are misconceptions about forgiveness that cause many misunderstandings and also serve as roadblocks to the healing process.

We clear up the misconceptions, provide the real scoop on forgiveness, and show you how to get rid of lingering feelings in such a way that allows forgiveness to become a healing force in your life.


    35 replies to "The Cheater’s Behavior Depends on the Betrayed Spouse’s Behavior"

    • Sunny

      Thank you for writing this. This was my exact experience with my husband’s emotional affair. I found happiness with myself, lost 50lbs and learned I was such a strong person. Trying to reason with or be emotionally needy with a CS isn’t something they can handle while deep in the affair fog. They have chosen not to deal with the real issues and are just enjoying the fantasy. I’m such a happier, stronger person now with a husband who has come to his senses now. Thanks again for writing this.

      • N Sarma

        How long did it take for him to come to his senses? Was it sudden or gradual? Did he apologize? Did you have to put any efforts or it came naturally?

    • exercisegrace

      My husband’s affair lasted over a year. I didn’t begin to suspect anything until about 1/3 of the way through it, and never “caught” them. I ran the gamut of “strategies” and the one described in this post was one of them. I reached a point where I had to stop begging him to participate in our life. I went to the kdis’ sports and school events alone, helped them with their homework, planned and carried out “family” outings without him etc. He would eventually tell me that his AP used this time to convince him that I didn’t care. She told him I clearly didn’t need or want him and I was happy doing “my own thing”. She also said the kids were obviously fine and happy without him in their lives as well. It was “proof” to her that he didn’t need to stay in the marriage. He was neither wanted nor needed. For us, it was me continuing to fight for him. Continuing to let him know I was upset. He would later say it was me showing how much I loved and needed him that pulled him back to his senses.

      Every situation, every individual, every affair is different (within the obvious “cheater handbook” parameters, LOL). My suggestion is do what YOUR instincts tell you to do. I would further add the suggestion to only do things because they are right for YOU. It was mentally and emotionally taxing for me to constantly be trying to find a strategy or play some type of mind game.

    • lessonlearned

      Thank you for sharing your has given me inspiration in dealing with my husbands emotional affair with a co-worker. They still work together (in different depts) and he’s being the “good husband” going through counseling and going back to church like we used to but its always in the back of my mind whether he still talks to her at work. I’ve been on the other side of this also and also with a coworker so I know how easy it is to get sucked back in. Fortuneatly I learned my lesson and how much I really love my husband and our life together. I just pray it doesn’t take him long to learn that lesson also. It is so not worth it, no matter how unhappy you think you are in your marriage. That is one road I will never travel down again

    • openheart

      This gentlemen’s heartfelt message really rings home for me. I am a little over 2 months from D-D and I am grateful that I found this site so quickly. I am currently separated from my husband. He wanted to have his space to figure out what he wanted in our marriage before I found out about his EA. He’s a cake-eater. I tried to follow the advice of Doug and Linda regarding what NOT to do, but ugh! It IS so hard! I found enough strength in myself to realize that it is HE who has to look at himself in the mirror every morning and rest his head on the pillow at night. It is HE who has to walk around with HIMSELF because wherever he goes, there he is.

      So I surrendered it all and decided to take care of me, spend more time with my daughters (who are grown) and friends, and reserve my meltdowns for my alone time. I vowed to not let him see my despair and anxiety anymore, as he had seen my rage and heartbreak for the first month after discovery. He is slowly coming around since I DID tell him that I was moving on with my life if I were to become privy to any more lies or betrayal. It wasn’t an ultimatum since I wasn’t telling him what to do; I told him only what I will do to protect myself should he make lower level choices.

      I don’t know if my husband is over his obsession yet…I don’t believe he is because when I asked him a few days ago if he is in love with this woman he told me, “I don’t think so.” What does THAT mean? It’s not an “absolutely not”. So I’ve backed off and decided I can’t control his thoughts any more than I can control his behavior. I have prayed for healing in whatever way that will show up. I am OPEN and surrendering to our highest good, whatever that looks like. I don’t know in this moment what peace and happiness look like, or how it will come, but I do know that is my desire.

      I am willing to give up my marriage to feel whole and peaceful again if that’s what it takes. I am focusing on being the best WIFE I can be, just like the man above is focusing on being the best husband he can be. If that isn’t good enough, at least I can look back with no regrets because I did my best.

      • Kathleen

        I would just remind you that a person being “held captive” by an adulterous affair will lie to your face. The best thing I did for myself during my husband’s affair was stop believing him. He could not tell me the truth. Once I pulled back and effectively but lovingly detached from him emotionally he started to come around. So do yourself a favor and know that he is still probably lying to you but do not take it personally. Do not give an adulterer credit for thinking clearly either. The fog is thick.

    • Shifting Impressions

      I really like this post but I believe that it takes a fair bit of time after D-day to get to that point. I also try to reserve my tears for when I am alone…..the car, long walks even the shower etc. For someone who has just discovered their partner’s affair they are probably completely devastated and unable to pull that off, I know I was.

      I know this is really good advice, and I am trying to behave that way myself but of course there are many times when it all becomes to much and I am unsuccessful. But I think sometimes our partners need to see the devastation they have caused. They need to see the depth of pain they have brought to lives of their betrayed partners. So yes I am trying to live my best life but when I fail and give in to the pain…..I’m not going to apologize, it’s part of what happens when someone betrays their partner.

      My husband has shown a lot of remorse over his EA and I think seeing some of my pain has brought some of that remorse about. But my willingness to be my best self has also contributed to our being able to move forward albeit very slowly. It’s a slow process but that is just what it is………. a process. It’s been 16 months since D-day and I’m just starting to be able to breath again and move a little closer towards forgiveness.

      Thanks for sharing, so much good advice.

      • Gretamahs

        Shifting Impressions, I am glad to see you have some good, basic sense. You wrote:
        ” But I think sometimes our partners need to see the devastation they have caused. They need to see the depth of pain they have brought to lives of their betrayed partners. So yes I am trying to live my best life but when I fail and give in to the pain…..I’m not going to apologize, it’s part of what happens when someone betrays their partner.”

        Yes! Of course! None of this nonsense advised about hiding the pain and acting like one who does not care. Why would the cheater feel good about that anyway- that he cheats and it doesn’t really bother his spouse?

        The cheater SHOULD see the pain he/she caused. Period. Because it is the truth. And a marriage based on less than the truth is a fraud.

        So you go an cry and cry and yell and cry right there in front of your cheating spouse. It is good and normal. And will actually show your spouse that he mattered to you a lot.

    • JKW

      Living this right now, and debating it in my head constantly. Wondering how long I can or should do it. Like exercisegrace mentioned, the feeling of strategizing or playing some sort of mind game is exhausting. What a crappy place to be. Sometimes I find myself being almost jealous of my husband–not of the crappy situation he’s gotten himself into, but of the fact that even after behaving as he has, he has a spouse who still loves him and wants to stick by him. He has the real deal–true, unconditional love of his wife and family–but is chasing a mirage.

      • Gretamahs

        JKW, there should not be any of the recommended mind games. Be real. Show how you feel. You are human, not a robot.

      • Drophammer77

        That’s exactly how I feel. People don’t realize how hard it is choosing to forgive your BS that is full of Rage. Full of bitterness who blames you for their misery. Knowing that their gonna go into the arms of another married man who has already had 2 affairs that his wife knows of. (She is divorcing him so he is separated right now). She won’t believe it. Again, Fog is thick. I stood in front of hundreds of her family & my family 15 years ago & said my vows & I still am committed, loyal. My 8 & 10 year old kids are a wreck & she & all the enablers are so blinded by their egos & bitterness. Telling me I’m walking on some high road for outward appearance’s. I’m not thinking about any road, I’m on my road. I never blamed her for anything she did or still doing. I did what I knew & I started with myself to change 1st so she could see our family & marriage is Worth everything. My wife told me “Your a good man, a great father & good husband. I’m just not happy” .. What??? Now 1 year later she Rages that she hopes kids would do same if they were in her shoes. 180° opposite of our Christian Belief, what I thought was both our morals. I’m jealous also. I don’t remember anymore what it feels like to be wanted. I purposely don’t go to bars because I don’t trust myself falling in another woman’s arms. I would fall hard for any attention. But its not fair to my kids, not fair to me because everything I say would be hypercritical & it wouldn’t be fair to another woman.

        • Drophammer77

          Sorry I meant how hard it is choosing to forgive your spouse that betrayed you

    • Untold

      JKW – I know exactly how you feel. I feel the same way about my CW. It would be nice to see signs, or hear them say sincerely, how grateful they are that you stuck with them. I don’t hear it. Instead I see denial, ignorance. Hard to tolerate. But you know they are so much better off you have stuck with them. How about you. Are you better off? Make it so that in the end you are, regardless of what they do.

    • Scott

      At some point you stop concerning yourself with what the CS thinks and just decide you’re better off doing your own thing. Stay or leave, that’s all personal choice, but once I got sick of the constant drama and roller coaster, it was an easy decision. Painful, yes. Consequential, sure. For me leaving was the only way to be true to myself and to grow out of the emotional squalor I found myself in.

      I don’t agree with the author though in this respect. All people always own their own choices. His wife emotionally vacated her position in the family and her commitments as a spouse. It has nothing to do with how he does or doesn’t act, she’s not acting responsible for her actions. The 180 does work, where you emotionally withdraw, but he shouldn’t have to act or not act a certain way for his spouse to be comforting, caring, decent, or responsible.

      After months of watching my ex act like a spoiled, entitled, brat teenager at the age of 40, I decided I wasn’t spending the rest of my life acting in any way shape or form that wasn’t 100% me. Period. If that was wrong or not enough or too much or just too damned ethical and decent for a cheating spouse, then so be it. That was my choice, and I don’t regret it. What I dislike is people thinking that I did anything to make it happen, and while the author doesn’t overtly exclaim, “you’re behavior made them do it”, it is implied. If I had acted stronger, more aloof, maybe a little more or less Alpha, blah blah blah.

      I’m all for the 180. I’m not for changing who I am, or being less true to myself to meet anyone’s needs, much less the needs of someone who doesn’t seem concerned with their ethics, actions, consequences, and the impact those abusive actions have on others.

      • Gretamahs

        Bravo Scott! What you wrote is the best advice for anyone with a cheating spouse. Everyone needs to be themselves, with no games.

    • JKW

      Untold–I’m working on trying to get my life in such a place that things will be better or at least ok for me and my kids no matter what happens.
      Scott–I agree. You shouldn’t have to act or not act a certain way for your spouse to be kind, considerate, loving, etc. I don’t want to have to strategize my every move; I just want to genuinely be.

    • mike

      It is very refreshing to see another male willing to fight for his marriage. I’m finding that my situation is very similar to the author’s. My wife has asked for a separation. We are currently still living in the same house, trying to remain friendly, until she can find sufficient employment to support herself (with some, not 100%, assistance from me). I’m not ready to give up on our marriage, but for now, she is not interested in working on it. I’m finding that trying to discuss it with her isn’t getting anywhere. She doesn’t want to hear that I’m not going to give up, that I’m going to keep fighting for us. I seem to be having a little better luck if I just go along acting like nothing is wrong to our families and our children. However, I’m afraid that if I continue to do this, she will begin to think I have given up, or that I don’t care anymore, or that I’m just as content as she is to end the marriage.

      • Scott

        I’m probably a bad one to ask, because I know myself, and 4 days after dday, I saw the attorney. 10 months after dday I was divorced. That level of disrespect is almost impossible to come back from. But right now you have no choice but to look at this like it’s over already. Dude, she’s already out the door with someone else. Wake up. If you REALLY want to save your marriage, the way to do it is not to act like everything is fine. Read up and do the 180 on her. Go see a lawyer, for your own sake. Split the bank accounts. Prepare. You aren’t going to save your marriage by sitting on your hands waiting for her to decide. It will never happen. She’ll keep finding other men because you’re willing to put up with it.

        The 180 is perfect. And stop telling her what you’re doing. Go do what you want, when you want. And that includes protecting yourself. Right now you’re living for her to make a decision. She’s already made it. Now is the time to worry about your welfare and the welfare of your kids. The 180 is where it’s at for you. Trust me.

        • Drophammer77

          When you decide to do a 180° be prepared for hell on earth. She will Rage at you & say things that will make you shutter. She will try & destroy you because now you poked a hole in fantasyland. I picture Fantasyland is deep under the Ocean. Not a big place, just enough for 2 people. A glass dome surrounding it keeping water out. But deep in Ocean the pressure is great & one little leak will cause Fantasyland to crush inward. Choosing to do a 180° i felt I was betraying her because now I’m purposely not giving her my love. But then I started to feel it still is love. It’s the Tough Love. You don’t enable those you Love to destroy their lives & those around them. Hardest decision I had to make. But the other Men here are right. You have to pretend it’s already over. Like the Soldier going to the battle. Once the soldier realizes they are already dead they can be & perform their best. Marriage is worth saving. Yes the betrayal is gut wrenching. I can have 100 episodes each day I want to have my vengeance & if I have to forgive her 100X a day then so be it if this is what it takes. Divorce is not the answer. I Love my unfaithful wife more than anything in this world. I vowed 15yrs ago to give her my everything even when it’s not returned. I love my wife not for what she does. I loved her when she was 19 for who she was. When she was 28 same, & now mid-30s for who she is. Her faults about herself.. To me they are not faults, they are her personality & her character. They define her like my faults define me. Nobody changes where we don’t know our Spouses, its their attitude that changes because of .. whatever reason they decided to let a doubt linger in their head instead of choosing to let it go. My guts are twisted as I type this & no matter how it turns out I have something honorable & a Story to tell my children as they get older that if I’m not here on earth to show my other family where divorce is high in numbers & its just a stepping stone & that marriage is worth the pain of love then maybe my kids or someone, anyone will be able to use it for themselves if they are doubting.

    • openheart

      Scott, the more I read your responses, the more I feel you are so right. I’ve never been so dishonored or disrespected by anyone in my entire life, even by people who didn’t like me very much. I’ve been back and forth in my head on whether or not to get divorced, but my situation is so sticky since due to my husband’s business failure, we are in the midst of financial ruin and trying to keep a roof over our heads. The EA (possible PA, but no proof) is what helped him get through his self-esteem and failure issues and, yes, he thinks he is in love with this woman who also happens to be a heroin addict. Yes, you read that right. I ask myself all the time, HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY EVER TRUST THIS MAN AGAIN WITH THAT LEVEL OF JUDGMENT, WHICH IS ZERO? I’ve been making the mistake of acting like I can move forward, but I don’t know that I can. D-Day was only 2 1/2 months ago and then he didn’t break contact for another month after I found out the first time…the difference between me and Mike is that my husband is doing things to show he wants to reconcile. If he wasn’t wiling to do that, I probably would have done the 180. Then again, it could be another complete manipulation. How will I ever know otherwise? Ugh. His jackassery has cost us everything. I’m sorry that you had to divorce. Or maybe it’s the best thing you ever did.

      • Scott

        At this point I not only don’t regret it, I thank God for the new horizon to my life. It’s been 18 months since it was finalized, and I have as little contact as possible. My kids tell me things, but most of those things are unsolicited. I don’t care. I have a nice relationship with a great woman who is my age, and is of high character and well respected. She was also cheated on in her marriage. So it is of course possible, after you take some time to heal, to find someone who more closely fits your ethics and needs.

        The decision to stay or leave is totally up to you. Everyone knows what they can and will put up with for the sake of their relationship, life, family, etc. But it begs the question, what’s enough? Just me, and only me, I’d let my spouse go have the heroin addict. He’ll get exactly what he’s asked for.

        There’s plenty of people who face failure who don’t cheat. There’s plenty of people who face adversity and not only don’t cheat, but they turn TOWARD their partner. His choices, his ethics, aren’t the ethics or choices of the person you married. He’s not the same. He’s changed. He doesn’t think he owes you or anyone anything, and his actions tell that exact story. Trust that he’s showing you exactly WHAT AND WHO he is at this point.

        2 ½ months is very very early in the process. Right now the only person you should worry about it you. You’re raw, you probably still aren’t sleeping well, probably still have visions, and a lot of things are really tangled up. It’s not a perfect process regardless of who is involved, but it is important for you to know actions matter, not words. He’s lied, will lie, will withhold facts, will lie in the face of facts, will twist what you say, and will be defensive. He’ll blameshift. He’ll justify. And it’s all because he can’t believe he’s done this to you or to his family. But does that mean it is right for you to stay? That’s really your call.

        What do you want? Do you want to be the police, following him around, to check on his movements? Do you want to be the one that is constantly laying down boundaries because he can’t do so himself? Do you want to live the rest of your life with the knowledge that he may have cheated or did cheat? Do you want to spend years in counseling working through his issues, including his inability to be truthful?

        Those are the hard tough, straightforward questions you will ask now or later. There’s other questions, of course, is he worth the effort? Do you think he has the capacity to actually examine what’s wrong with himself and make real change to his character? And so on. But most of the consideration now is about you. He’s broken his vows, at least in part. You have the choice and the power to make decisions for yourself, and for your future.

        Ultimately this is all about real, honest, remorse. It’s actionable. Will he give you a post nuptial agreement stating his intent to not fight you in a divorce if he does it again? Will he pay child/spousal support so you can live, and not fight the dollars involved? Will he see a counselor on YOUR terms, not his, based on YOUR definition of what his failure and successes in that counseling are? Will he follow your rules, boundaries, expectations, etc.?

        You are the 100% victim here. You own nothing of what he did, his actions, his failure. This is on him. You did all you could and you’ve done the right things. It’s not your fault or your issue. The #1 rule for me was to be in the position at any time to move forward with my life, without her, if she failed to meet my expectations at all times. Period. High standard, sure. But I didn’t ask for the pain, neither did you. I didn’t ask for the trauma, the ptsd, the sleepless months, the visions, the starvation, and neither did you.

        My ex cried. But it doesn’t mean she cried for the same reason I did. Doesn’t mean your husband is either. She cried because she got caught. Because she lost her comfy lifestyle and because she couldn’t play around anymore and make me look like a fool. So just because he cries doesn’t mean he feels your pain.
        Finally, this thought. You mention financials. That’s also not your issue. As my Lawyer, Therapist, and Accountant all told me in the days after finding out, and they all said almost the same thing verbatim, “don’t worry about finances, many people divorce and go through bankruptcy. Many people divorce and walk away from homes. Many people divorce and start fresh in a new and different way.” I was very lucky my lawyer wasn’t a leech, my counselor wanted me to get better, and my accountant was worried about my taxes and not getting revenge. I’m proof you can walk away and not win every fight, not get every last thing you want, but you can divorce and move on. The LAST thing you should worry about is money. It will tie you down and hold you immobile forever. Do what is right, and trust God that money, life, love, happiness, and peace will follow. Trust me, there’s nothing like peace of mind.

        Stay strong, and do what you know you should do for yourself first and always. From here on out, this is your life and your choices. By the way, the 180 doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There’s dozens of techniques involved. You can withdraw from him and his drama…read up on it, use the parts you think you need to.

    • Blue

      Scott: I admire your ‘sh*t or get off the pot’ attitude.
      Wish I was so brave!

      I remember a long time ago wondering ‘when will I know if someone’s the right guy to marry?’ Now I’m asking ‘When will I know if it’s time to leave him?’ Every positive seems balanced with a negative. I feel like I’ll forever be just sittin’ on this fence…

    • openheart

      Blue, I waited 10 years to marry my husband…10! You would think you know someone. The fact is anyone can show up a certain way in the beginning (not unlike affair partners do) making one believe that there is true authenticity there, at least after the infatuation phase is over and the couple settles in to the REAL intimacy. I found from personal experience that we never know what life event acts as a catalyst for all of the past wounds and baggage to emerge. And then we never know how anyone will respond to the trauma of that. Scott is exactly right when he states that lots of people go through their shit and DON’T go out and start affairs. It’s a true testament of someone’s character…how they RESPOND to the hard shit. My husband is 10 years younger than me, and because of that he tried to make it seem like I was stealing his youth because I became a grandmother for the first time this past December (this is my second marriage and a reason we weren’t in a rush to be married). I turned a very young 50 in January (most people think I’m the same age as my husband). I thought he was “the right guy to marry” since we were so compatible and had similar goals and visions. And like you, BLUE, I vacillate between allowing him time to come out of his fog and kicking him to the curb.

    • openheart

      SCOTT, THANK YOU for your profound and eloquent words of wisdom and encouragement. I am slowly coming out of my grief and discovering my empowerment again. I’m trying to give myself a break since D-Day was so recently, January 14th. It took him another month to break total contact. so I had several other D-Days in that time. I’m not a religious woman, but I do have strong faith in an unconditionally loving and compassionate Source Energy that grants me peace and strength on a daily basis. I will have to file for personal bankruptcy since I helped my husband keep the business going with my line of credit. I am in no way a victim here since we made these decisions together as a couple. But that is what I believe commitment and loyalty means…you stick together and support one another. I quit my teaching job to work in the business and then when it failed, I could not secure the salary I had previously. It caused deep resentment and my “young” husband decided I had abandoned and betrayed him. I’m no damsel, but I expected he would pull up his big boy pants and own HIS part in the collapse of our marriage. It drove him outside of our relationship to rescue a REAL damsel…the junkie. And now he is most concerned about is reputation since he is in the music business and has to keep up appearances. I made a list of all of the reasons I fell in love with him 14 years ago and it breaks my heart to see that he is showing up with so few of those qualities at this point. I made a second list of all the behaviors he’s displayed in the last six months to a year and I’m completely disillusioned and mind boggled. I wish that I had your fortitude and steadfastness. One of my deepest wounds is my lack of boundaries, so I can see how this life theme is playing out in the biggest way possible. It’s inescapable, so I have to face it. Thank you for asking the tough questions. I am mulling them and REALLY letting them integrate. I write in a journal daily and remind myself: LET THIS SINK IN, GIRL: YOUR HUSBAND IS IN LOVE WITH A JUNKIE. YOUR HUSBAND CONTEMPLATED GETTING HER INTO REHAB AND LEAVING YOU FOR HER. YOUR HUSBAND CONSISTENTLY LIED, DECEIVED, OMITTED, GAS-LIGHTED, AND BLAMED YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR MARITAL PROBLEMS. Sometimes when I see it written like that in black and white, it starts to sink in. Ugh. 🙁

    • Scott

      It is very very early. Keep in mind you are only starting to experience the full range of emotions, and they will come in waves, and some will shock and surprise you. I see in your note that you sacrificed, that you own your issues, that you believe in a quality relationship of equals, give and take, commitment and loyalty. Ask what his actions show you now. Trust that when you withdraw, he will put the full court press on to stay. He has comfort with you, and fantasy with her. If one is taken away, then he will be angry, defensive, and demand you OWN his cheating. You said, “I am no victim”. Yes, you are. You don’t have to be stuck as a victim, but he has victimized you. He has taken your trust and faith, your oath of loyalty, and has burned you with it. And how horrifying that the person you rely on most betrayed you in such a nasty way. You don’t deserve it.

      I know many people, including some professionals disagree with my assertion on this one point, and I appreciate their opinion. But their opinion doesn’t help heal. And the point is this. You did nothing wrong. Nothing. You were acting in a faithful way, believing your partners intentions were honorable. If you were naggy, pushy, quiet, busy, depressed, oppressed, doesn’t matter. Cheating has nothing to do with your actions. I’ve seen great marriages ended because of cheating, and horrible ones where they stayed together and didn’t cheat! Your actions didn’t, never did, and never will cause someone to do something terrible and evil. That’s their choice. Period.

      You are 2, almost three months in. Allow yourself to feel your emotions, allow yourself to be angry, hurt, frustrated, and what I did, was literally called out the emotions. “God I’m hurt. God I’m frustrated.” That way I wasn’t burying my emotions in the least. You will decide how much you will put up with, or not put up with. You will decide if the marriage is worth the trouble. His actions have put you on a journey you didn’t ask for. His actions will require either a divorce, which hurts and devastates, or years of therapy, which hurts, and devastates, and even with the therapy, you get no iron clad guarantee that he’ll stay faithful. It sucks. It’s not fair. It’s not anything you did.

      And that’s why I compare it to murder or rape. Those events are all out of your control and they’re horrible. You pay a huge price, like infidelity, and PTSD is the result. It’s severe trauma. Those who cheat don’t understand the emotional toll it takes. I do. You, unfortunately, do. One day you’re sane, your life is good, you feel this incredible connection. People envy your relationship, or talk about what a nice couple you are. The next day, your looking for even a moment when you aren’t in pure torture, a living hell.

      But know this, this is your life. You are the master of your decisions, not him. Start to think about what you want, and deserve. It may be him, it may not. It’s not his call anymore. It’s yours. Start to pick the course you want to follow and take your personal power back. Do the 180, and see a lawyer, protect yourself. He’s involved with a heroin addict. Get lifelock so this person can’t steal your identity. Change your email and personal passwords, for everything. Get off facebook. Anything you post is usable in court. So be off it for about 60 days before you hand him divorce papers, if that’s what you choose. Go underground. Give him nothing. See an accountant, figure out the best tax plan for you so when you give him his first draft of papers, he can see you mean business. He’ll play victim, but you have to be strong. And if he says he wants to stay married, give him a list of all the things he will do, for as long as you deem necessary, in order to keep you. It’s non-negotiable. He gets no say. Those are your terms because that’s what it will take for you to heal. If he doesn’t want to meet the terms, you divorce. Period. He needs to snap out of it, or lose his wife. He’s not going to do that if you are in any way passive.

      Oh, and one more thing. Please go get tested for STD’s regularly now. A heroin addict? Really? She’s a petrie dish of bacteria.

    • TheFirstWife

      Scott. You have some wise words. I am about 18 months post DDay 1 and 15 months post DDay 2 with my CH (and same OW).

      I stood strong when he ditched me 2x w/out telling me about her. Next day he would beg for a second chance.

      He REFUSED counseling so I went alone for a year.

      He had a classic mid life 50 year old crisis. Went with a much much younger person covered in tattoos, drama queen, foul mouthed and sees herself as totally blameless in this whole thing. She has accused me of “keeping them apart”.

      I practically held the door open and told him to leave. We have children who are not 18. But I finally stood up to his crap.

      Boy did things change fast. He snapped out of it and it was over yet his lying about details continued. I saw in print he said he loved her and I saw in emails how he was planning to leave me. Their words were to “stay strong and fight for what is right “.

      So I called him on it and got more lies. No I did not love her. just when I was ready to throw in the towel he realized his continued lying was not helping.

      I also built up a nest egg for myself and have a post nup. We married after college and had no $ so a pre-nup was not necessary. Now I have assets and accounts he cannot touch in case of divorce.

      I now have PTSD. But I hide it well.

      I no longer have the same feelings. I love him deeply but feel I live with one foot out the door. I do not believe it will not happen again. I already see him sliding back to some of his old ways (not cheating but communication issues, coming and going at times like this is a hotel).

      Whatever. His issues not mine. I have been married 26 years and still look good for my age. I am physically fit, spiritual, kind and understanding. I am not perfect and admit I could have done some things better but NOTHING I ever did would warrant cheating.

      I always wonder if I had cheated would he stay. Probably not. He would not have the stomach to suffer through it.

      I just wonder if I am doing the right tbing by staying. I do love him. But I am good with or without him. wish I knew the right answer. I can see both sides of the fence. And not a day goes by that I don’t think of the betrayal.

      I don’t cry or have meltdowns but there is a reminder in some way, almost daily. I think I resent the level of communication she got and I can’t even get an answer to a simple question. I hate the words I don’t know now because she got 4 and 5 paragraph emails DAILY and I get I don’t know often.

      And I believe it was a PA as well though they both deny it. Yes I have spoken with her in the past and she told me about the affair part 2. It is hard to watch someone unravel in front of your eyes.

      I always thought a mid life crisis was a joke or cliche. It is real and painful and hard to watch.

    • Scott

      Very hard to watch. God bless you for what you’ve put up with. I’ve heard a lot of people who stayed for years with the CS and finally just walked away from sheer frustration. There are those who really honestly change. But I contend they are few. Its easier to live in the denial and not accept responsibility. Whatever you choose to do, remember it’s right for you, and sometimes you just make your decision and go with it. He’s already ruined the relationship.

      Only you know whether it’s right to stay or leave. I have no tolerance for it, so like I said way up there, I may not be the perfect person to ask. 16 years wasn’t easy to walk away from, but a cheating spouse? Oh yeah, THAT was easy to leave. The life, the kids, the family, the environment, nope, not easy, Full of pain…but the cheater…just getting off the roller coaster was worth it.

    • TheFirstWife

      Thank you Scott. Well put and clears up some things.

      I just wonder why he would cheat (or any person for that matter).

      I always told him that if he found someone better who he wanted to be with, please don’t cheat as it always makes things worse. Just come and be honest. I will take it and still respect you. I said this one night to him on May, not knowing he was already cheating. He just sat there and said nothing.

      The feeling of being manipulated haunts me. When I read the emails they sent each other was like a sucker punch. My CH always treated me well and was kind and nice to me. We did not have major issues, money problems or huge fights.

      He had space and time to golf, play basketball, occasional weekend with guys to golf, travel extensively for his job which I never questioned or had any reason to suspect he cheated ever.

      Now I have an opinion that could be 100% wrong but I believe he cheated more than the 3x I now know about. I assume he had one night stands while he was away on business. More than once. And given the fact that he cheated 20+ years ago and I suspected and he acted like I was crazy only fuels my suspicions even further.

      How sad that is how he will be viewed by me for the rest of his life. Bottom line is he was NEVER the guy I thought he was. Hard thing to face and accept.

      He is a good father and nice guy and helpful, etc. except he is a liar and cheater too.

    • Penny winterbottom

      I liked this article, I will follow this advice. Too long it has been about him and too long I have been the scape goat for his inability to connect with me. His excuses for his EA are just that excuses. I have been a loyal and devoted wife.

    • TheFirstWife

      Openheart, I am further down the road in terms of d-days (there were 2 with same OW). My CH wrote in emails he loved her but says he really did not. Do not get hung up on if he did or didn’t as it will make you crazy. It drove me nuts!
      He says he did not love her yet ended our marriage twice to be with her. Give up 25 years together and a good marriage and children to be with someone you don’t even love? Sounds crazy but true.
      They are so confused b/c many do not deal with all those emotions. Too hard to handle.
      This new relationship is a @sugar rush”. Once the fog lifts they are often embarrassed and ashamed and also clueless as to what to do next.
      Therapy taught me it is not important if he loved her or didn’t live her. Accept the new reality that you will never look at your CH the same ever again, your life will be different in some respects, you have changed as a result of the affair and you cannot undo the past. The harder part is moving forward.
      I wish you all the best. And yes we are still together but it has not been an easy 18 months and he is trying very hard. I am lucky.

    • Gretamahs

      I disagree about “putting on a happy face”. Why? Its dishonest. The betrayed spouse needs to be free to express how they feel, when they feel it. The cheater should see the effects of their behavior.

      What all this advice is doing is game playing and being hurtful to the victim- the betrayed spouse. Stop it everyone. If your are sad when the cheating spouse is around, cry. Right there in front of them. Not holding it in until you are in the shower. If you feel angry, express it, to the cheating spouse.

      There is no such thing as the “affair fog”. It is simply that the cheater has bonded with someone else. Either he sees the effect it had on his betrayed spouse, actually cares and realizes he has been a selfish fool and stops the affair, or he doesn’t.

      No game playing. The cheater is not some mentally retarded child with explosive temper outbursts who needs to be treated with gentleness.

      Be true. Honest. No pretending. If the cheater feels it is too much to handle, then obviously they are not much of human worth having in one’s life.

    • Ll

      Does this program work if he still won’t admit the affair of over 10 years?

      • Doug

        Well, it’s hard to say, but it sure could be worth a try – especially if nothing else has worked up to now.

        • Ll

          Thanks for the quick response. I missed out an important question. Even if he’s already decided to divorce just a matter of time, depending on the other woman’s divorce?

          • Doug

            Perhaps even more so in that situation. Additionally, you need to focus on yourself and get yourself strong emotionally and physically. Talk to an attorney (just in case) and get your ducks in a row financially and legally.

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