The ScriptYesterday I went to the library to look for some poolside reading material.  I came across “The Script”.  The book is written by authors Elizabeth Landers and Vicky Mainzer.  

The authors who were both divorced from long marriages, discovered the script by listening to hundreds of real-life stories of unfaithful husbands.  They conclude that the cheating spouse will follow a similar pattern prior to, during and after the affair.

The book is written like a play, with an overture, two acts and a finale.  I found the book interesting because I did see many similarities or behaviors that were prevalent prior to and during Doug’s emotional affair.  Fortunately our ending was different.

I am sure many cheaters who read this book would completely disagree with its content due to the fact that they believe that their affair “just happened” and there was no premeditation involved. However, the book outlines behaviors or patterns that put the cheater’s mindset into place.  Similar to the behaviors Dave Carder outlines in his book “Close Calls.”

The Overture: This part of the “play” starts unconsciously.  Before your spouse ever starts an affair, he tells you that he would never cheat – possibly even after some friend or neighbor falls prey to an affair. He continues to build your trust.

Also during this time your interactions and conflicts change.  Suddenly, somehow all the problems and issues always seem to be your fault. You now think like you’re losing your mind.

One example of this could be the spouse is unhappy with the domestic contribution of the cheater, so the spouse voices her dismay (nicely of course) and the cheater turns it around as being the spouse’s problem.  In the end the spouse is the one who winds up apologizing, feeling totally confused and blindsided at what just happened. In essence he (the cheater to be) is trying to gaslight her.

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Act 1: Before he leaves. During this time the cheating spouse (to be) is beginning to feel like a victim in the relationship.  He believes he is putting all of this work into the marriage and no one appreciates, listens or acknowledges him.

At that time he enters the scene the authors call, “Wow, that felt good!”  The authors explain this by stating, “In his head vague and unidentified feelings of unhappiness and discontent are swirling when he comes upon the Momentary Encounter.  In a few brief moments he feels something quite different, something good, he feels happy.”

It could be as simple as an attractive coworker complimenting him or laughing at his jokes.  It really doesn’t take much to arouse the feeling of euphoria.

During this time the cheater will begin making comparisons between the feelings he is receiving at home and when he is with this “special” person.  He also will begin to pick fights, act unappreciated and distance himself to make the polarization even larger. 

He will tell the special person how appreciated he feels when he is with her compared to how he feels at home, therefore giving the special person an opportunity to validate his feelings.

The authors described many other behaviors or patterns present during this time and the two that really caught my interest were, “I found My Soul Mate, and “This Could Work”. The cheater feels that he is one lucky man at this point. He has a mistress who makes him very happy, as well as a wife, kids and job that make him feel very comfortable.  He believes that he can have it all and that everybody is happy and that this feeling could last forever.

“He is in a delusional state living in a fantasy. The world full of possibilities has produced one wonderful woman, his soul mate.  He feels happy, alive, appreciated, on top of the world.  The thought of hurt, angry, scared, disapproving, or suddenly distant family and friends is nowhere in his mind.”

Practical problems of money, living arrangements and affects of his wife and children are nowhere in his vision. His fantasies will play out like everyone will be happy about this.

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He says things like, “My wife and kids will get along fine.” “She will find someone else to marry.” “My kids will love my ‘special person’ and she will be great with them.”  “They will love going over to my house every other weekend, it will be like a mini vacation.”  “It will be just like Demi, Bruce and Ashton – one big happy family.”  Obviously it is very difficult to understand how one could be so delusional, but it is all part of the Script.

Act 2:  After he leaves. I’m not going to get into this act too much other to say that it involves the part where he tells you about the affair and that he is leaving.  Then come all of the justifications for doing so- both to himself and to others.

The Finale. Of course, the play concludes with “This is Not the Way I Planned It.”  The cheater’s fantasies obviously do not play out and everyone does not end up happy and content.

I think we’ve seen this play before!

The end of the book has this cute little story about a man going to a lingerie shop with his mistress.  It plays out like this:

At the beginning when he walks into the store he relishes buying her the whole set – a low-cut French bra, thong, garter belt and lace stockings.  She talks about wanting to get married because she adores him.

During that year he comes in several times and always buys the sexiest lingerie for her.

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Then the couple’s dreams come true, he divorces his wife and marries her.

The next time he goes into the store, he tells the clerk that he cannot buy the bra anymore because his wife has to now come in to try it on first. Of course, she never had to try it on before.

A few months later he goes in to buy the whole set but not the bra or the thong, as his wife told him they were too uncomfortable.  So he just bought the garter belt and the stockings.

Things are going well for the newly married couple but the next time the man goes into the lingerie store, he tells the clerk that his wife requested that he just buy some nice cotton underpants.  That will do the job.


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    21 replies to "The Cheating Spouse Follows a Script"

    • Candace

      My H loved living in that delusional state and would still be there if it was up to him. And yes, I now see so many signs, that this article refers to as “The Overture” that were present in our marriage. However, he would deny them. Our marriage has changed so much since we have both decided we want it to work. I am just so suspicious all the time, trying really hard not to be and he knows this and trys to overly explain everything. I want to get past this stage.

      • Melvin


        I would love to have this stage pass as well. Rebuilding trust is not an overnight deal. I struggle with this daily. DW knows this is an issue and is working hard to mend fences. Her line of work makes me suspicious of her having another affair. Which is why I applaud her and give her lots of freedom to be with her girlfriends. These are women that I know have high standards and (I would hope) will ring her in if she thinks of straying.

        Best Always.

    • M girl

      I would like to chip in as well to say that my to-be-H (he’s my fiance) who had an EA and PA (which I discovered a month ago) doesn’t really want to hear that their affair followed a script, that it’s just a typical an affair as any other.

      Do any of your recommend to keep saying this or to just back off? I’ve just moved back into our apartment and we are trying to make things work. But he’s still in the grieving stage where he is trying to let his feelings for the OP go. He says that it’s ‘almost there’ but it’s been almost there for like 3 weeks. Should i keep insisting that he keep to the no contact, or do you think it’s better if I just back off completely and stop talking about it?

      • michele

        LEAVE HIM!!! This is before your married? what do you think is going to happen after you are married.

      • AnnaB

        I would definitely leave him! He’s GRIEVING??!!How dare he? He had an affair and then acts like the victim??! I would get out of there and find someone who is loving and respectful and cherishes you. This man did not consider you, and if he isn’t over this OW now, getting married won’t do it! I don’t mean to be harsh or patronising, but it is just a ring on your finger – most of us on here are married, which proves that no-one is immune from it!! I used to wish I wasn’t married or we didn’t have children, which would make it much easier to leave my H. If you don’t have children you should take this opportunity to leave now, otherwise you will be forever wondering if it’s started up again or if he resents you for making him end his affair. I wish you lots of luck for the future, and he is very lucky you are considering trying again, but you’re not trapped, you don’t need to be there!

        • gizfield

          I agree, anyone who cheats on you before you’re married needs to go. There are plenty of non cheaters out there. I know a girl, her boyfriend cheated on her. She took him back, had a child. He proceeded to cheat, again. She took him back, had another child, he cheated again. Supposedly she is done with him, finally. Did I mention he is also physically abusive and a drunken pillhead. She would listen to no one about this guy. Please find someone decent before you involve children.

    • elph

      This humors me so much for two reasons.
      I had my wifes phone bugged soni could read her texts even if she deleted them. One stuck out for sometime and now I realize why.
      OM ” do you want some help or would I make things worse”
      Wife ” it’s okay. I have a husband who loves me”

      I now realize that day (in march) she was either going totell me about the affair. Or break up with me. But it’s similar to above because somehow my wife just thought I’d be okay with it and want to see her happy despite.

      The second is the Bruce and Demi thing.
      We are separating and my wife actually said we could be like Bruce and Demi. I laughed. That’s a great divorce no doubt. But nobody got cheated on there.

      More of the fantasy my wife is living.

      Reality will come crashing down soon enough.

      • michele

        I wish I had done that as soon as I had found out…I think my decision to stay or leave would have been easier knowing what he was saying behind my back.

    • InTrouble

      M girl – I hate to say this, but you are in a super bad situation. Really. If he is cheating at the point you are now (where usually people are totally enthralled with each other), I just can’t see how a marriage can work. You’re going to be miserable. Again, I really really hate to tell you that. You can insist on no contact, but is that no contact with every woman, everywhere? ‘Cuz I bet that’s what it will have to be…

    • InTrouble

      How does that little story at the end of the book differ from what is nearly always the same scenario in a “regular” romantic, non-affair relationship? Or is that the point?

    • M girl

      Thanks for your comments InTrouble. I know that it is ridiculous that I have to go through this even before marriage but i guess we have been together a long time and it feels like we are already married. He is remorseful and wants to change…but whether it can really happen is a question mark. Anyway, for sure, I will not be getting married to him unless we are both absolutely sure that we want to be together.

    • D

      What I can never reconcile is why the cheater can’t just choose from the get-go. I mean, aside from revenge for her actions, I think the only reason to have an affair is to consciously or subconsciously leave the relationship. I just don’t understand having an affair for 18 months and then wanting to stay in the marriage. It’s so weird to me.

      And sad. We’re nearly 1.5 years from D-Day and I told her recently that I know one thing absolutely: that she can hurt me. Everything else is blind faith.

    • Nony

      I have that same question as D. I have told him that if he actually felt so in love with the OW, why didn’t he just go ahead and pursue a life with her (yes, she was pregnant at the time with her second child with her husband – but hey, why make me and the OW’s husband miserable?)? He said it was because he couldn’t bear to be separated from his daughter. I told him that was unfair of him to make me stay in a relationship simply because he wanted to be with our child. He wasn’t just lying to me, he’s lying to our child about the state of our family. His heart and mind are not with our family, he was always in a bad mood, always in a perpetual state of lying – to what end? I honestly don’t believe right now that I will ever be able to trust him again. That doesn’t mean I don’t care for him, but in some ways, walking away while we are still able to pull a “Bruce and Demi” is arguably better than staying until I hate him completely. I don’t look at him and feel the same way. I don’t love him the same way. I don’t care if I kiss him goodbye in the morning before work or if we kiss at all. He is a bit disgusting to me. We still have sex, but there is less kissing and certainly no romantic feelings of my end. I just use him to satisfy my own needs and since he is my husband for the time being, and he says he wants to be in our relationship, I keep working at trying to forgive him. I don’t think though it will be possible. I don’t get cheating. It is worse to lie to someone you claim to love (for months!!!) that to come clean and for better or worse make a choice about who you want to be with. The whole thing still makes me angry and I don’t want to wake up 20 years from now wishing I had left. Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks again for this site.

    • TLC

      Hello Nony,
      I was in exactly the same situation as you. I was constantly being lied to, his looks changed, and his attitude towards me became horrible. I didn’t know who he was and the kids were too bewildered. He was always angry and I was on eggshells. He has a 4 and 7 year old boy. It turned out he was with my best friend who I had confided my fears with, our kids were friends and we did so much together as families. When I found the texts I immediately kicked him out. Then as more things surfaced I left with my two boys. The whole thing going on with them is like a teenage fantasy where he must save her from her husband. She remained with her husband as they have five children under 7. Four months has past and I had just started to accept the situation and talk friendly when her husband discovered him at their place, then I have discovered a phone bill with hours of conversations etc. Everytime I have a conversation with him he tells me it was a lie down the track. It is an addiction. Now I think the fog and affair is dying I am told I should have been there for him for better or worse, sickness or health. Unbelievable. The whole journey I have got up every morning and made myself look good, gone to work and smiled even though I felt like shit inside. He blames me for leaving him to why he is in the mess he is. Honestly leaving was the best thing I could have done. The kids have seen very little arguments etc. I can have family and friends support me and I can start to work on my future. It is really hard in the first couple of months but suddenly it gets better. My kids have adjusted really well and love our home. This is just my experience but in my heart I knew our sex and marriage had changed. I was prepared to work on it but he just couldn’t give up the addiction of texting and phoning. The funny thing is their whole thing is entirely emotional and they think both her husband and I are out to destroy them. Completely fantasy. I just need to live in the real world now with people I can trust. Take care and willing to talk anytime. TLC

    • Susie

      My H affair is following the script. D-day was 11 Sept 2011, he left to be with our next door neighbour, he did it in front of our 11 yr old daughter. She was also a very good friend who I also confided in. My H works 200 miles away Mon-Fri and is back at weekends. We had only just been on holiday as well, he left, within a week they were looking for a place to live, in 4 weeks they moved in together and 2 weeks later he started divorcing me. I am totally heart breakingly devastated as is our family and friends. We had been together 23 yrs, married 21 yrs. We were engaged wthin 3 months of meeting. Completely devoted to each other. The neighbour too was married for 21 yrs. Everything according to him is my fault, his mother who we only saw 2 weeks a year(she lives 450 miles away and has health problems) even said to me she has seen how miserable he has been for 21 yrs. My daughter feels terribly betrayed by them both as I do. He is verbally abusive to her on the phone, consequently she no longer wants to speak or see him. We are in no contact, recently he started talking to a very close friend of mine, still trying to justify what he has done. Christmas is going to be horrendous !!!!

    • Anita

      Sorry to read about your heartache.
      I also was divorced a few years ago. The first year was hard,
      but I made the choice early on, that I was going forward with my new life. I grieved hard the first few months but each passing month it got easier. I also made another choice that since we were divorced, I was going to let him live his life and
      I would go on with mine. The more energy I put into my new life, it pulled me away further away from the past. Time with
      forgiveness will also heal wounds.
      Divorce is such a painful time. With my ex husband it was about 2 years after our divorce, when he called me and apologized and took responsibilty for his affair. Hearing him say those words brought even more healing. He later met another lady and married her and I am happy for them.
      Healing takes time, wheather you stay together or divorce.
      Focus your energy on creating a new life for yourself and your child. Do something extra special with your daughter during the holidays. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

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