The cheating spouse must feel your pain and acknowledge the pain they caused.

cheating spouse must feel your painBy Linda

One common denominator that is the result of infidelity is pain.  Certainly, the pain of Doug’s emotional affair has been greater than any other pain I have ever experienced. 

The pain can be expressed in different ways and it can be responded to in different ways – but it is always there.

What helped to ease the pain was to get to the point where Doug was able to experience the pain with me.

This took a few months and multiple conversations and experiences, but became quite a healing experience when he did acknowledge the pain he caused.

Looking back on it, it is apparent that this acknowledgement cannot be forced.  It only came as a result of open and honest communication and the sharing of feelings between the two of us. 

Without this process, I’m positive that any further unwillingness to acknowledge the pain or his part in causing the pain would have cost me a significantly longer period of feeling that pain.


Until the cheating spouse gets to the point where they can live through the pain with you, you will often feel the need to be able to ease it somehow – to escape it.   Though it’s a natural reaction, I urge you not to do this.  Enduring the pain helps the healing process.

Through the mentoring that I do with people, I have seen that one way that they try to escape the pain is by ignoring it, thinking that it will go away on its own. This doesn’t work, and can actually make it worse.  I know that when I tried this, I wound up internalizing the pain which only compounded its effect.

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Another common way for pain avoidance is when the cheating spouse attempts to spare their spouse further pain by withholding information. An example might be where the cheating spouse has further contact with the affair partner, perhaps even by accident, but fails to communicate this to their husband or wife.

This error in judgment will eventually come to light causing more pain and a significant setback to the healing of the marriage.  There is a renewed feeling of deception and any trust that has been reestablished will be wiped out.  Further deception plus loss of trust, equals more pain.

The Pain of Betrayal – Do We Have Adequate Words to Describe What it Feels Like?

Another pain avoidance tactic that I have witnessed, both in the comments on this blog and with my mentoring clients, is the cheater intentionally sabotaging any attempts to talk about the affair. They do this by getting angry or somehow deflecting the conversation.

Until Doug saw the light, he was very good at this.  He didn’t always do it, but often he would become angry and frustrated by my questions or attempts to talk about his emotional affair which would cause me to back down (which I’m sure he knew I would do).  The message that came through to me was, “Just get over it.”  Obviously not something I was ready to do at the time.

I have also seen some instances where the betrayed spouse avoids pain by side-stepping conflict or by not talking about the affair.  They would rather not hear the truth for fear of the pain it might cause. This might make them feel good temporarily, but this won’t last long and will only delay the healing.

See also  The 7 Stages of Grief: Why Grief is Messy

Pain avoidance may make one feel better, although only temporarily, but does nothing for the healing process.  Get your spouse to acknowledge and understand your pain.  Communicate it to them, and let them know how that pain has affected you.  Don’t avoid it.  Face it head on.

Once the cheating spouse can feel your pain and empathize with what you’ve gone through, you will be surprised at how it can help in your healing from an affair.

    25 replies to "The Cheating Spouse Must Feel Your Pain"

    • Saddenned


      Great post. My H and I still have problems here. He gets frustrated with talking about the EA. I keep playing in my mind the words that he said the night before he told me about his 12 day long EA. He told me he wasn’t happy anymore and hadnt been for a while. I was completely blindsided. He later told me those were just words and that he didn’t mean it, but they play over in my head. He has answered questions about the EA, but fears I am dwelling on it.

      We have worked on every other aspect of our marriage. He is being more affectionate, our physical relationship has improved, and he makes plans for just “us” like this last weekend we went on a small weekend trip.

      My wounds are deep, but are healing. I often ask him if he is happy just to make sure we are connecting.

    • Roller coaster rider

      This really is important stuff. I am working on being the person my H wants to open up to. He always shut me out before, and would respond with anger, hostility or refuse to talk to me at all if something was emotionally charged…but now, he’s starting to let me in and seems willing to listen. Seeing me suffer has made a difference.

    • Andrew

      Hello, it has been a while since I was on here. This post is great, for it outlines some things that I have been trying to get across to my wife for a year now. I have told her on many occcasions that if she would only be open and honest with me, that it would be better for all of us. By lying, being secretive, and hiding everything, she is only hurting me more. I told her that if she would just tell me the truth, I would be a whole lot more understanding and forgiving than she thinks I would. I know she thinks that what i don’t know won’t hurt me, but the truth is, that I already know what is going on, and she just keeps not telling me, or deflecting the conversation, and turns it back on me, by asking me how I feel, or anything else to get the subject off of her. She will not open up and tell me what’s really going on. It really is frustrating, and sad, as she cannot see what she is really doing. She is moving out in 2 days, and still will not even acknowledge that she has been having an affair, or that the OP is the reason she is moving out. She claims she just wnats to be on her own, etc. She is still justifying and making excuses for her actions, and the only thing that is going to affect her is when she gets the harsh dose of reality from trying to make it on her own. It really saddens me that she cannot see the whole picture, and that she is so willing to go to such great lengths to further a relationship with someone else that will not last because it started in lies, deception, and secrecy. I wish everyone good luck in their struggles, and hope that it works out for everyone. I still believe that my marriage can be saved, but as long as she is under the OP’s influence, I will have to go it alone. Thank you everyone on here that has given me advice and support in the past, and especially to you, Linda, and Doug for creating this great resource for all of us that are suffering through this. It has helped me to get through this very difficult time.

      • Doug

        Andrew, Sorry that things are not working out at this point for your marriage. I agree with you that there will come a time when reality will hit her and she will regret everything she has done. Best of luck to you. Keep us updated on your situation.

        • Andrew

          My wife moved out last thursday, May 5th, and took the kids with her. I asked her why she didn’t give me a chance after I addressed the problems that had created this situation to begin with, and she told me that she tried for a long time, but that she didn’t want to try anymore. She also told me that she wanted to try a relationship with the OP, and that there was nothing I could say or do to change her mind. I told her, I know that there is nothing I could do, she has to realize the consequences of her choices, and that I did everything I could to save our marriage. I also told her that I wouldn’t be her fall back, or insurance when that realationship doesn’t work out. Which, it won’t because it all started in secrecy, lies, and deception. I told her if it was meant to be for her and him, why did it all have to be secret? Because it’s wrong, that’s why!

          I still haven’t given up, but I am just going to let her get out there and see that the grass isn’t always greener. I truly believe that the only thing that will get to her is a harsh dose of reality, and that reality is coming soon. She has been moved out for about 4 days, and she is already complaining about how much money it takes for groceries and everyday living expenses. I told her that I wouldn’t give her any more money as long as she was still having an affair, which by the way, she still doesn’t see it like that, and that if the kids needed something, that I would buy it for them, and get it to them. She wanted me to give her cash, and I said I don’t trust her, and this is how it must be now. She chose this route, and must now deal with it. I will make sure my kids are taken care of, they are my number one priority, but I am letting her do this on her own. I guarentee, that once she starts really struggling, and starts going to the OP for help, he won’t give it to her. He had it good while she was still living with me, for he didn’t have to pay for anything, because I still was, including the things she bought for him with my money! She really cannot see what she is really doing, not only to me and the kids, but to the rest of my family, and hers. They are all hurt by this as well, and she has stopped talking to anyone that will go against what she is doing, even though she even knows it’s wrong!

          Several of my friends say that she will try coming back, but I’m not so sure. In order for her to try to come back, that would mean she would have to take responsibility for her actions, admit she was wrong, and apologize. I don’t see that happening, as those are three things that my wife hates to do. In order for me to even think about taking her back, 2 major things would have to happen: 1) Cut off ALL contact with the OP (No brainer), and 2) she would have to agree to counseling, and give 110% effort. I can see through it when she doesn’t give a full effort. I don’t know, I guess we shall see what the future holds. I really hope for the best, and would forgive her, but only God knows what’s in store. Thank you so much to everyone. I will let you know how it goes from here. Good luck to all.

          • Doug

            Andrew, I applaud your perseverance and the approach that you are taking with your wife. Let’s hope that she soon realizes and accepts the mistakes she has made. It saddens me though that she has decided to take the children with her. How are they handling this?

            • Andrew

              Doug, my daughter, who is 5 going on 6, has been really affected the most by this. She is very sensitive, and before I got out of the Army in 2008, I went on a mission for 3 weeks, and my daughter who was 3 at the time, became very withdrawn and wouldn’t participate in daycare like she did before I left. Now, that was me only being gone TDY for 3 weeks, so fast forward to now, and she is taking it hard, and has been for a while now, because she could sense that something was wrong between mommy and daddy for months now. Her Pre-K teacher told me about her being very emotional and withdrawn in class over a month ago, and i told my wife that, but she didn’t believe me or just didn’t see it. Well, 2 days ago, the Pre-K teacher spoke to my wife about it when she dropped her off, and I think she finally realizes that this is really hurting the kids. My son who is 3 going on 4, I don’t think he really knows what’s going on. He has shown some emotions and separation anxiety, but I don’t think he really understands just yet. I told my wife that the kids need all the love and attention she can give them right now. That’s what they really need, and I just hope that she sees that, and follows through. I’m afraid that she is too focused on the OP though. That’s what makes me the saddest. I get them this weekend, and it’s going to be all about them and whatever they want to do. They are my #1 priority, and I will make sure they are well taken care of.

    • Candace

      Andrew, your wife sounds so much like my husband! We are seperated because he feels that there is no reason that he & the OW cannot still remain friends. Hello! Her husband & I are just over reacting according to him! Every time we take a step forward in our marriage he comes up with something like this that sets us back 10 steps. I am about finished trying.

      • Andrew

        Candace, yeah, we would make progress as well, then it seemed like she realized that we were, but it wasn’t the way she wanted to go, so she would fight against it that much harder. I know I felt like giving up everyday, but something inside me just wouldn’t let me give up. I have stepped back in my efforts, for I am giving her the time and space to hopefully see the whole picture, and realize the extent of her actions. One can hope! I wish you luck, and I believe that everything happens for a reason. We don’t always know or understand why it does, but we will come out of this stronger! We will survive, and our spouses will one day know the pain that we have endured for so long. Keep your head up! You are already stronger than you think, for you are reaching out to others like you. It takes a lot of courage and strength to get help. I know, I’m also here! Stay strong, and remember, that no matter what happens, it will all be ok, one way or another!

    • roller coaster rider

      Andrew, it’s amazing to me that you can be the way you are right now, and I just want to say thank you and God bless you.

      • Andrew

        Thank you, God has blessed me with patience and understanding, and strength. I have a great support system in my family, and friends as well that help keep me on an even keel. I can’t control my wife’s actions, I can only control myself, and my own choices. I know that it will all be ok no matter what happens, whether we stay together or not. There are good things coming my way, and we will all survive, no matter what.

    • suziesuffers

      Andrew….amazing that she is “coming” to you to complain..just shows you how immature her thinking is. It’s like moving out as a teenager, and finding out it’s not like living at home…THERE are expenses….and lots of them. All the time and money can’t be spent on FUN!! So if the OP is so invaluable to her, why isn’t she crying on HIS shoulder about her money issues….if she wants a relationship with HIM…then let HIM take care of her…lock, stock and barrel!! Again, KUDOS big time on your perseverance. Crazy think is, if it’s just a friendship, someone is willing to GIVE up their life with their spouse to pursue it? That is crazy making talk!! Not even a kid would give up his family for a friendship…..!! INSANITY!! May God guide you in your steps as you travel down this very hard road.

      • Andrew

        Suziesuffers, you are absolutely right! I have asked my wife the same questions… She has justifications and excuses ready every time I do though. It really is insanity. She is living in the fantasy world 24/7 that her and th OP created, and for whatever reason, she fells like that is what’s best for her. I do not wish her any harm, but unfortunately, she brought this on herself, and she will now have to reap what she has sown. It is just very, very sad how some people WILL go to such great lengths to further temporary self-gratification, and throw everything away on something isn’t going to last. I just feel sorry for my wife in that she can’t see the damage she is really doing to herself more than anyone else in this horrible situation. She is never going to be happy, because she cannot get past herself right now. Having an affair is the most selfish thing anyone can do, next to suicide. Just very sad. I know it will all be ok though, not matter what. I am moving forward, and am getting my things in order, with or without her. Thank you for your support as well. Stay strong, and trust and believe in yourself!

    • WyoLifeguard

      My wife and I are going through this right now… She was texting multiple guys for the emotional affair. Now, I find myself with all the pain because of her actions. Everytime we start talking about it, my anger starts to boil over to the point where I have to just shut down emotionally. The most important statement that I read was Enduring the pain helps the healing process. She knows what she did was wrong, but now I’m left with the internal pain… my guts hurt, I cant stop looking at the large amount of txt messages (i printed out all the message logs). I haven’t gotten to the point to where I trust what she says and what the “proof in the pudding” proves to me. I’m lost….

      • rachel

        WyoLifeguard, Hope you feel better that you are not alone. It’s so unfair what they have done and we are suffering beyond control. Same thing with my H and me we can’t talk about any of it. One he won’t and two if we do my anger starts to boil over too. Many days I feel like throwing in the towel and just calling the lawyer to file. Don’t know how much this is going to go on for . We don’t speak just live in the same house.
        I think he must still see her and text her. How did you print out all of the text message logs? My H has a lock on his phone. Claims that he always leaves his phone at his desk at work so he doesn’t want anybody reading it. What a stupid excuse.
        Take care. We’ll get through this mess somhow.

    • dedo706

      Hey I know how everyone feels I am dealing with the same thing my husband had an affair and I cought the female driving his car at first he told me she was just a friend to talk to , then latter he told me they had sex after listing to me about any sexual contact. So yes I am not hurt anymore I just am trying to find my way out the pain is to much for me to bare I gave this man my sole and for him to betray me like this I can’t take . After that affair he haven’t been the same he lies all the time and I catch him all the time. I also heard that he is flirting a lot at work since the affair happened I tried really hard to save my marriage but he can’t be trusted , Now he has moved out because we can’t stop fighting because he is still doing something to make me feel he is still having more affairs his mood changes from day to day that’s how I know he is still not being honest with me. So now I am trying to keep my daughter from all the hurt and pain that he has caused in this marriage I try not to tell my daughter bad things about him because he isn’t a good husband doesn’t mean he isn’t a good dad. I find my upset at how he let the family down with his selfish acts and how much I respected this man and how he could hurt a person he so called loved?

    • crios

      I am the betrayer the one who did tbis to my loving wife something she did mot deserve. I do feel some of the pain i caused I have been living with it for the last 8 months with her it has been a roller coaster with plenty of ups and downs. She has been doing a great job coping day in and day out. I feel terrible most of the time and only find joy when I see her. I analyze all the time i was being selfish , stupid and a liar and that pain i will carry forever. I hope someday she canforgive me for all of my actions. Good luck to all on ur journey

      • tdleea

        Crios-I understand betraying spouses do the things they do for a variety of reasons. My husband did because he had his own internal conflict and after a 2-year affair realized it and did everything he could to come home. Many could not understand how I could take him back but many did not realize that while he was in the affair, he was not the man I married. When he was done, he was better than the man I married and I loved him so reconciliation it was. A long hard road for both of us. it has been a little over 3 1/2 years. I would appreciate your view point on this… The first yearish I was just dealing with everything and sorting it out in my head-my husband did everything he could to help. Things got better but VERY SLOWLY. Last year I began to sense his frustration over things that may set me back into the past. I’ve tried to explain to him, but I think he feels like there is just nothing else he can do. I’m almost wondering if the guilt gets to be too much. About a month ago as I’m starting to really feel happiness within and contentment with our life he tells me he’s not happy, he feels like everytime we talk it gets better for a while and then it goes back to how it was. I don’t see it that way, i feel better and better each day but i know it would be hard for him to acknowledge because he’s not inside my head. He says he’s exhausted with everything. He’s trying in our marriage but he’s just not felling the same way. I’m hoping you’ll still receive notification of this message as I see the date is from a while ago and can clue me in to how things are going for you. you are a person that can offer me how the healing goes, feels from the other side. And I really feel like I need some inside advice.

    • Penny

      My husband and i work at the same scool and.his room is mect door to mine. My husband is a teacher’s aide one on one and he and the teacher of the room had an affair. I caught them hold hands her laying on top of his back while talking to him ,holding each other with lights off in the corner of the back of the room, texting and calling one another. He says it’s over but when I tell him we both need too leave the school so we don’t have any contact with her he tells me he doesn’t want to be in any other classroom. He likes the way she runs her room ,and that they work well together. When I tell him i CAN’T move forward and I need to not see her every day because it’s to painful. He says you know if you leave it’s not going to change things for you because your still going to be thinking about me and her being alone in the room together,and you like it here so what does you running away solve. I jus don’t understand why he can’t ask to be moved?

    • Penny

      My husband and i work at the same scool and.his room is mect door to mine. My husband is a teacher’s aide one on one and he and the teacher of the room had an affair. I caught them hold hands her laying on top of his back while talking to him ,holding each other with lights off in the corner of the back of the room, texting and calling one another. He says it’s over but when I tell him we both need too leave the school so we don’t have any contact with her he tells me he doesn’t want to be in any other classroom. He likes the way she runs her room ,and that they work well together. When I tell him i CAN’T move forward and I need to not see her every day because it’s to painful. He says you know if you leave it’s not going to change things for you because your still going to be thinking about me and her being alone in the room together,and you like it here so what does you running away solve. I jus don’t understand why he can’t ask to be moved? I really need your advice please.

      • Shifting Impressions

        Your husband’s lack of willingness to move shows a complete lack or remorse and understanding of the pain he has caused you. It’s total selfishness on his part. He is absolutely wrong about it not changing things for you. Yes you will still struggle but at least you won’t have it in your face everyday.

        Also, if he would be willing to move it would show that he is willing to put your needs above his.

        I think this would be a deal breaker for me.

    • Don

      Do the cheaters really ever feel your pain. Or do they care about the other people’s lives they have destroyed or tore up in their process

    • Don

      I’ve been married 4 years have endured 6 separations. With 5 guys filed for divorce 3 times. I give her everything she wants. Plenty of money. She admits to the cheating says she is sorry. Won’t ever happen again. She always falls for the guys that are broke. Jobless. Homeless. And drunk. In a few weeks she wants to come back.says she loves me. This time she can’t find the time to sign the papers. She’s broke and very sick and my sympathy is gone. Her new guy is with another woman already. What do you do now. My give a dang is broke like me

    • still struggling

      I just want my husband understand my pain and what it has destroyed in me, in my heart. What it has done to me emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. When ever I bring it up and want to discuss it, the conversation gets heated because he gets defensive or deflects the conversation to what’s happening with him at his new job or something else. When I try to bring it back around to the discussion about us and our healing, he accuses me of trying to hurt him and sabotage our marriage. He’s the one who sabotaged our marriage, he’s the one who was doing the hurting when he made promises to stop, lied to me about it, continued the involvement, refused to even speak about it for over 30 years, would get extremely defensive and yell and get loud at me, and then stonewall me for weeks and months on end. One time for a whole dang year. Now the first D-Day is coming up and my anxiety is building to an extremely high level and I want him to go away with me for a few days because all 3 D-Days have occurred in this house, and he thinks it will be a waste of time and money because they all happened to long ago. We are still living in the same house and same area and I have begged to move which he has promised me we will for the last 10 years. I have become somewhat of a recluse because of being fearful of going anywhere in public as I have an encounters with his AP and she has verbally, viciously belittled, ridiculed, and harassed me, while I walked away to keep from making a bigger scene. I have since gotten a no contact restraining order against her, but my fear level is beyond measure. My husband has shown me no support when I’ve shared my hurt from those encounters. He was completely dismissive about what I experienced, didn’t say a word when I told him, just looked at me and went and sat down and went back to watching TV. When I’d finally reached a point of having enough and got the restraining order, he only asked, If I really felt I needed to do that? I agree with Don. I think my “Give a Dang Is Broken” (FOR GOOD)!

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