So what happens to couples that have experienced infidelity? 

Well, relationship expert and therapist Esther Perel kept in contact with many of her past clients to learn more about the long-term impact of infidelity.

We thought that what she discovered was quite interesting and we hope that you do too. In short, she discovered three basic patterns in the way couples reorganize themselves after an infidelity:

  1. They never really get past the affair
  2. They pull themselves up by the bootstraps and let it go
  3. They leave it far behind.

Please read on and then leave your thoughts and any personal experiences in the comment section below the post. 

 

What Happens in Couples After Someone Cheats?An Affair to Remember: What Happens in Couples After Someone Cheats?

By Esther Perel, MA, LMFT

Couples therapists typically have no idea what really happens after an affair. We regularly help partners recover from their immediate crisis, but what happens to them after they leave therapy? Did the insights gleaned carry the couple through the years of marriage, the slings and arrows of ordinary domestic fortune? Was there a brief, second honeymoon before the marriage reverted back to its pre-therapy condition? Did they file for divorce once out of the therapist’s benevolent gaze? Did either spouse commit more transgressions?

Unless we’re among the few therapists who seek periodic feedback from our clients, we simply don’t know, and, without knowing what impact our treatment had on these couples, we have little idea of what worked and why. When couples leave us, we’re looking forward to what their future holds; however, I’m intrigued by what we might learn from looking back.

For several years, I’ve been contacting couples I’ve treated to find out more about the long-term impact of  infidelity that brought them to therapy. With those couples who’ve remained together in the intervening years, I offered a free follow-up interview to discuss how they regard the infidelity retrospectively, and how they integrated the experience into the ongoing narrative of their relationship. All marriages are alike to the degree that confronting an affair forces the couple to reevaluate their relationship, but dissimilar in how the couple lives with the legacy of that affair. I already knew the marriages I was tracing in these follow-up interviews had survived; now I wanted to assess the quality of that survival. What were the useful shock absorbers that sustained the couple? Did they think that therapy had helped?

Specificities notwithstanding, I identified three basic patterns in the way couples reorganize themselves after an infidelity–they never really get past the affair, they pull themselves up by the bootstraps and let it go, or they leave it far behind.

In some marriages, the affair isn’t a transitional crisis, but a black hole trapping both parties in an endless round of bitterness, revenge, and self-pity. These couples endlessly gnaw at the same bone, circle and recircle the same grievances, reiterate the same mutual recriminations, and blame each other for their agony. Why they stay in the marriage is often as puzzling as why they can’t get beyond their mutual antagonism.

A second pattern is found in couples who remain together because they honor values of lifelong commitment and continuity, family loyalty, and stability. They want to stay connected to their community of mutual friends and associates or have a strong religious affiliation. These couples can move past the infidelity, but they don’t necessarily transcend it. Their marriages revert to a more or less peaceful version of the way things were before the crisis, without undergoing any significant change in their relationship.

For some couples, however, the affair becomes a transformational experience and catalyst for renewal and change. This outcome illustrates that therapy has the potential to help couples reinvent their marriage by mining the resilience and resourcefulness each partner brings to the table.

stuck in the pastStuck in the Past

“Every time I can’t get Marc on the phone, I’m reminded of how he wouldn’t answer when he was with the other women,” says Debbie, still bitter three years after she discovered his affair–the latest in a string of extramarital dalliances. Married to Marc for 14 years, she decided to remain with him ostensibly to preserve the family. She constantly makes him feel that he’s lucky she didn’t kick him out, as if he’s the only one who stands to lose everything they’ve built if they divorce.

Since the transgression, Debbie has assumed a sense of moral superiority, believing that Marc has never fully owned up to the wrongness of his behavior. In her eyes, forgiving him wouldn’t repair the marriage, but would instead effectually give him a clean slate, allowing him to feel that he no longer has any reason to feel guilty. Her refusal to “let bygones be bygones,” as she sarcastically put it, was evident when they talked about sex. “I want to make love,” Debbie said, “but it would be as if I’m telling him everything is OK now.” They haven’t had sex since the affair three years ago, except during the few days right after the discovery, when sex is often used to ward off loss.

There’s no way that he can be reassuring about his renewed commitment to her, Marc says, when she only responds to him with biting sarcasm and condescension. Often, he adds, she ruins what might be perfect moments between them–their daughter’s piano recital or a dinner with friends. “There are no perfect moments,” she sneers. With a tired voice, he tells her, “I’m here and I’m ready to rebuild.” She replies, “I haven’t made up my mind.” She felt so rejected by Marc that she still doesn’t feel that he really wants to be with her, she explains. Their dialogue has become rigid, narrow, and predictable.

When Debbie brings up the affairs, Marc alternates between justifying and blaming himself. He says that she was no innocent bystander, citing her continual criticism of him and hair-trigger temper that predated his adulteries. While the dismal state of their marriage before his affairs was a joint production, Marc says, Debbie refuses to take any responsibility for her part in the decline of the relationship in the past or the present. He thinks he’s expressed shame, guilt, and remorse, but it just won’t ever be enough. Infidelity remains at the epicenter of their relationship, and they tag it onto every disagreement between them.

In fact, it’s likely that the pair would have had the same miserable interactions had there been no infidelity. Couples like these live in a permanent state of contraction, sharing a cell in marital prison. To the betrayed spouse, the betrayer becomes the sum total of the transgressions, with few redeeming qualities. To the betrayer, the betrayed spouse becomes the sum total of a vengeful fury. I’m reminded of this phrase: “Resentment is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

When couples like Marc and Debbie come to therapy, it’s often at the insistence of the partner who endured the affair, who seeks somebody who can honor his or her grief, dismay, and turmoil. Just as often, betrayed partners need moral confirmation, viewing themselves as the victims and their partners as perpetrators, if not unredeemable villains. A first step is explaining to them that wholesale condemnation distracts them from tackling the real relationship issues. I introduce a neutral perspective that allows us to explore the motives and meaning of the affair. But in these highly reactive couples, there’s little room for neutrality, because the partners take the call for self-reflection as a personal attack: “Are you saying that because I fall asleep at 9 o’clock every night that it’s my fault he had an affair?” a betrayed spouse will practically shriek. “So what if I want nothing to do with you sexually? I refuse to take the blame for your cheating!”

I also have to address the obsession with the affair that seems to stay at the center of these relationships, sometimes for years. The betrayed person relentlessly replays the stories in his head and hunts for lies, even if it’s humiliating to do so. He turns himself into an amateur detective. One betrayed partner told me, “I check her computer, I go into her phone. When I left for a weekend, I kept calling home and got no answer. When I found out that she’d left the kids with her sister, I instantly thought she was seeing him again.” To which his wife answered with bitter resignation, “He never actually asks me, he just assumes.” Accurate information–the spouse was engaged in some perfectly innocent activity–diffuses the distrust, but the calm lasts only until the next bout of insecurity. This cycle makes it impossible for the betrayed partner to feel loved again.

I believe that genuine trust rests on our ability to tolerate what we don’t know about the other, and as long as we’re driven to uncover every detail, we can’t trust. In these couples, past experiences of abandonment and rejection loom large and keep trust from being reestablished. Reclaiming a sense of reality after the revelation of the affair is essential for the betrayed spouse, but some remain tethered to their investigative quest–rifling through credit card statements and cell phone bills, repeatedly pressing the browser’s “back” button, listening in on phone calls.

In an effort to allay their anxieties, these spouses establish a regime of control in which intimacy is confused with surveillance. Their myriad questions are less about honoring closeness than about intrusiveness. The interrogations, the injunctions, and even the forensic evidence fail to assuage their fundamental fears. I help them move their stance from detective to researcher or explorer. Rather than scavenge for the sordid details, it would be more enlightening to ask questions that probe the meaning of the affair, like: How did your lover illuminate other parts of you? Did you think of me when this was going on? Were you afraid to lose me, our family, the kids? At what point did you realize you wanted to stay? If an affair is a solo enterprise, making meaning of it becomes a joint venture. Couples like Marc and Debbie, unfortunately, don’t get to these questions. They want their partner fixed. For them, therapy seems more a part of the penance rather than a mending experience–there’s no absolution in sight.

One feature fueling an inability to move on can be the unyielding hurt. I asked another of my clients what he longs for in his relationship, now that he’s five years past his wife’s multiple affairs. He replies, “To go back to six years ago.” He tells her, “I used to think, no matter what, I was your man. And you just abandoned me.” For him, it’s the inconsolable grief that keeps him feeling unsafe and in a permanent state of unhappiness. For her, a tortured sense of guilt and failure is unending. Witnessing his unbearable pain reinforces the magnitude of her shame and guilt. In the meantime, life with children and work goes on, but the emotional abscess doesn’t drain.

For these couples, it’s hard to look back because they never went forward. The affair has become the narrative of their union. The marriage may technically survive, but their couplehood is dying on the vine. When infidelity becomes the hallmark of a couple’s life, something has been broken that can’t be made whole again. The relationship is permanently crippled.

broken-heartThe Survivors

Joanna had fantasized about the moment for almost two years: she’d leave her husband, Michael, move in with her lover, Eric, and be bathed in a state of bliss and sensuality that had been sorely missing from her life. Eric had showered her with affection and a sense of importance–attention she’d only ever received from her children, since Michael had excused himself from these gestures, saying he wasn’t that kind of guy. Lassitude had gradually crept into her marriage, leaving her feeling more attached to the habit of being married than to the man she’d once loved.

Joanna’s transgression was an attempt to recapture what she’d shared previously with Michael and didn’t want to live without: a sense of importance and belonging, relief from loneliness, and a feeling that life was basically good. Unfulfilled longings drive many cases of infidelity. Joanna carefully plotted her departure, but when push came to shove, she couldn’t do it.

Often people begin to see what they want to preserve at the moment that their affair is about to come out of hiding. Perhaps not surprisingly, this is also when they realize that the lover was meant to be exactly that: a lover.

“Part of me was very disappointed in myself for not being able to leave Michael, and I wondered if I was letting go of the love of my life,” Joanna recalled. “But part of me felt relief that I was going to stay and not destroy my family.” Michael alternated between panic and rage, between begging her to stay and chasing her away. “I couldn’t believe she was ready to jeopardize everything for this guy, Eric, and I felt trapped because I suspected that her reasons to stay didn’t have much to do with me. It was more about what we had than about who I was.”

At the core of Joanna’s predicament is a conflict of values, inherent in the affair itself, not just in its resolution. When people talk about their fears, often they’re really pondering their values. For Joanna and others in her place, lying and deceiving are more agonizing than thrilling. They don’t set out to betray their partners. Sometimes, as in the case of Joanna, they’re motivated by a yearning for what they’re no longer willing to live without: passion–not in the narrow, sexual sense, but as a quest for aliveness and erotic vitality.

For these partners, sexual excitement and what they regard as self-centered desires for more romantic “fulfillment” aren’t powerful enough incentives to turn them away from the long-term rewards and vital obligations of family. They hold themselves to the premise “when you marry, you make a commitment and you must honor it.” These couples value family integrity, security, continuity, and familiarity over the rollercoaster of risky romantic love. There can be deep, enduring love and loyalty in these couples, but passion doesn’t feature prominently on the menu. However, while people’s values can remain intact, the decision to stay in the marriage can be heart-wrenching.

When I work with these couples, I always include joint and individual sessions, keeping all information from the individual sessions confidential. The purpose of solo meetings is to provide a private space in which each partner can resolve his or her individual predicament, no matter how long it takes. With these couples, the therapeutic process is one of reasoning and rational thinking, as a way to temper the turbulence of their emotions.

Couples like Joanna and Michael had carefully crafted a path for themselves in their marriage, and much of what they seek in post-affair therapy is to reclaim a sense of control. They aren’t looking for massive renovations in their relationship; they simply want to come back to the home they know and rest on a familiar pillow.

In therapy, I explore the riches of the love affair, what they found in their relationship with the “other,” and what they can take from it into their primary relationship. We draft the new amendments for their life, in the singular and plural. We weigh the pain of ending the affair and I always ask how they imagine themselves 10 years down the road.

With the betrayed person, we examine the ebbs and flows of trust, the sense of impermanence that snuck into the relationship, and their wish to return to familiarity. Therapy offers couples like Joanna and Michael a place to evaluate the fundamentals of their lives. We also address the hurt that persists even though the couple remains together.

Joanna and Michael ultimately were able to resume a life similar to the one they’d had before the crisis. “We weren’t ready to divorce over this, but we don’t see the affair as being good in any way. It was a kind of temporary insanity,” Michael sums up. Listening to them, it’s clear that they’re both relieved that they were able to pull through.

Once in a while, Michael can feel a surge of insecurity, since Joanna and Eric occasionally meet professionally, but his suspicion is intermittent and easily absorbed. He’ll inquire, “When’s the last time you met him? Does he have a new girlfriend? Do you talk about personal things?” On occasion, humor is the perfect antidote. Once, when Michael asked Joanna if she thought Eric was still interested in her, she told him, “I don’t think so, but here’s his telephone number. You can call him and ask.”

couple climbing a mountainThe Explorers

“The affair was a shock that forced us to get unstuck,” was Julian’s unequivocal response in an interview five years after I’d seen him and his wife, Claire, in couples therapy. “I agree that our relationship is now much better than it ever was,” said Claire as she turned to Julian and added, “but I still think that you acted like a jerk. You didn’t need to cheat on me to make the point that our marriage was in trouble.” While they still disagree on the way Julian delivered his “message,” they agree his affair transformed their marriage.

Claire found out about Julian’s affair through accidentally discovering e-mail messages. Deeply jolted, she sought individual therapy and reached out to her friends. But along with giving her support, they asked her to see that, while Julian had betrayed her trust, she herself had–as she later put it–”betrayed my vows.” Knowing that Claire didn’t want to lose the man she loved, her friends encouraged her to fight for him. So she reached out to him, and they talked with each other as they hadn’t done in years, sharing feelings and thoughts that had long been tucked away. As the conversations evolved and they began to narrow the distance between them, they felt awakened into a new experience of connection, in which they felt both great pain and excitement, as they never had before.

When couples like Julian and Claire begin to find their way back to each other, there’s often a combustive rekindling of desire, a mix of anxiety and lust, which many couples are shy to admit. In this emotional maelstrom, couples swing between starkly opposing feelings: one minute it’s “Fuck you”; the next minute it’s “Fuck me.” Then it’s “Get out of here!” Followed by “Don’t ever leave me!” Throughout this drama, Claire and Julian managed to sustain these swings without either one marching off to a divorce lawyer. Being able to express and accept such a wide range of feelings without demanding a premature “closure” made them good candidates for a positive resolution. Tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty is vital to discovering a space from which a more creative and robust relationship can emerge.

In my joint work with Julian and Claire, I did something that some therapists might consider risky: I suggested she invite Julian to talk about his experience with infidelity. Paradoxically, I’ve found that this type of openness about one’s affair, rather than being destructive and painful, can be a deeply affecting demonstration of loyalty to the spouse. Telling one’s partner, “Okay, I’ll show you who I am. This is what happened, and this is how I felt about it” can be a way of saying “I love you and never really wanted to leave you; I want to tell you this because you’re so important to me.” Indeed, Claire found that having Julian talk about his intimacy with another woman was itself an expression of intimacy with her–increasing their bond with each other.

Sometimes the crisis of infidelity helps couples make a crucial distinction, one between a relationship based on exclusiveness and one grounded in the uniqueness of their connection. Exclusivity depends on establishing rigid boundaries: the emphasis is on “not permitting,” “restricting,” “not sharing with others.” Before the affair, Claire and Julian had increasingly based their relationship on this kind of external framework to set them apart as a couple. In contrast, through our work together, they learned to value what was distinctive about the meaning they held for each other, with the emphasis on why they “chose to be with each other” rather than what was “forbidden with someone else.” Ultimately, this enhanced sense of “us” is the most powerful analgesic for relationships at the edge, soothing the pain and promising a prospect of renewal.

Couples like Julian and Claire manage to turn the turmoil of an affair into an enlarging emotional journey. Each one takes appropriate responsibility for the deterioration of the relationship, focusing not only on mending the breach produced by the affair, but on rebuilding the emotional foundation of the marriage. Such couples tend to identify the affair as one event–but not the definitive event–in their history together. Rather than seeing the affair purely as an act of failure and betrayal, they transform it into a catalyst for change, an inspiration for a rebirth of connection.

All kinds of unexpected discoveries can come out of the crisis of infidelity. Claire, having had to reconnect with her own resources to weather the storm with Julian, experienced a new sense of self-reliance and a new willingness to take the initiative. As she learned how to express her sexual yearnings, Julian was surprised to find a partner with a strength and enthusiasm he’d never encountered before. At the same time, no longer the lone decision-maker in the marriage, he found himself missing the ability to make decisions for the two of them. While richer and more interesting, the relationship felt less secure to both of them. “I’m not sure at all where this is going to take us, but dull it certainly isn’t,” Julian said.

reinventReinventing the Self

Couples who can successfully recover from an infidelity often display a significant shift in language: From “you” and “me” to “our,” from “when you did this to me” to “this was an event in our life.” They talk about “When we had our crisis,” recounting a shared experience. Now they’re joint scriptwriters, sharing credit for the grand production of their life together.

Couples who think in absolutes are less able to integrate the infidelity into the new substance of their marriage and likelier to get stuck in the past. For them, the affair is entirely bad and destructive, a transgression against commitment and morality. Complete remorse, followed by dramatic confession, unqualified promises of “never again,” unconditional forgiveness, and categorical absolution are the only acceptable outcomes. But things are more fluid for those who see an affair as an event that, no matter how painful, may contain the seeds of something positive. Such couples understand that forgiveness doesn’t happen all at once, and they feel OK with partial forgiveness. To be sure, after betrayal, trust isn’t likely to be total. When declarations like “How can I ever trust you again?” are made by such couples, I often interject, “Well it depends. Trust for what?”

Above all, what sets apart couples who use therapy to turn an infidelity into a transformative experience is that they come to recognize that therapy doesn’t provide clear-cut answers, but a nonjudgmental forum in which to discuss their ideas of betrayal, both sexual and emotional. They discover that such discussions can become the basis for their new relationship. While by no means giving up on the idea of commitment, they learn to redefine it in a way that will prevent the recurrence of secret affairs and betrayals. For them, monogamy means mutual emotional loyalty, fidelity, and commitment in a primary relationship, even if, for some, it doesn’t necessarily mean sexual exclusiveness.

They find out that infidelity doesn’t necessarily point to flaws in the relationship. Such partners see the affair as less a statement about the marriage than a statement about themselves. When we seek the gaze of another, it isn’t always our partner we’re turning away from, but the person we ourselves have become. We’re seeking not another partner, but another self. Couples who reinvent themselves can bring this other self into their existing relationship.

People stray for many reasons–tainted love, revenge, unfulfilled longings, and plain old lust. At times, an affair is a quest for intensity, a rebellion against the confines of matrimony. An illicit liaison can be catastrophic, but it can also be liberating, a source of strength, a healing. And frequently it’s all these things at once.

Some affairs are acts of resistance; others happen when we offer no resistance at all. Straying can sound an alarm for the marriage, signaling an urgent need to pay attention to what ails it. Or it can be the death knell that follows a relationship’s last gasping breath. I tell my patients that most of us in the West today will have two or three marriages or committed relationships in our lifetime. For those daring enough to try, they may find themselves having all of them with the same person. An affair may spell the end of a first marriage, as well as the beginning of a new one.  (Here’s a link to the original article)

 

Please remember to share your thoughts and any personal experiences in the comment section!

 

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    91 replies to "What Happens in Couples After Someone Cheats? The Long-Term Impact of Infidelity"

    • Jenny

      This woman makes me nuts. So many subtle and not so subtle statements that blame the unknowing betrayed partner for the affair. i don’t care how many degrees you have, lady, this isn’t smart stuff.

      • michelle1016

        I totally agree Jenny. She has no idea what this is like…

    • Shifting Impressions

      I found it interesting that in the example of the couple “stuck in the past” the husband had a multiple or to use her words “a string of affairs”. Whereas that does not seem to be the case in the other two scenarios.

      I would think that fact would make a huge difference in how things played out. Also she sort of skims over the statement in the Explorer example that the betrayed spouse had also broken her vows…..what is supposed to mean.

      I mean I would love to come to the place that we would move on “stronger and better” but if there were multiple affairs….is that really possible. I’m with you JENNY….lots of blame being put on the betrayed spouse.!!!

      • Michael

        And what if you’re in a 20 year relationship with an emotional abuser, and stuck in that relationship and losing your mind? You’re getting no affection. You’re being constantly rejected physically. Your getting no emotional connection/support/empathy etc… You’re being mind fucked ad nauseam to suit their manipulative desire of the current moment. They’ve cheated on you you’re quite sure but they refused to admit deny deny deny, turn it around, project, and you find yourself feeling guilty! WTF??? Your partner is a snot with the maturity of a 6 year old…. ? It’s always about them, always, always always always without exception and your taken for granted, door matted, and reduced to convenience item or prop status since they don’t want to go out or attend family functions alone you are handy for that and expected to perform as the happy partner. At such events they’re affectionate and pretend to have a strong and healthy relationship with you. LOL. Youve tried heart to heart conversation to address your concerns ie not enough sex, emotionally checked out and consumed with TV and cell phone and they turn on the charm to lure you back in and then it goes right back again. Should you be blamed for seeking emotional and or physical sustenance as you’re psychologically crashing and literally starving for attention, affection, emotional connection….. You’re literally driven to desperation.

    • Jenny

      I think she’s a kook who looks decent, talks about sex and such and gets on TED talks and huff post etc. She seems to get a lot of press. There’s money to be made when you blame the betrayed, because we all scramble to fix ourselves. And the cheaters get a pass from a beautiful foreign woman who acts so evolved and so much more sophisticated than we are. Yuck.

      • Strengthrequired

        What got me was the part she said the following:

        “Perhaps not surprisingly, this is also when they realize that the lover was meant to be exactly that: a lover”
        So if she thinks the ap is the “lover”., what are we the betrayed supposed to be?
        I actually became tired of reading, especially after some comments gave me the impression of why am I still here trying to make my marriage work, especially when I found myself in each betrayed spouse mentioned.
        Yet now I know that I’m just the wife, thanks to this lady, not the lover too. i call the ap a distraction from reality.

        • Holdingon

          I stopped reading also, I just skipped to the comments and found the response the same as mine. My wife flat out lied to me and said we were fine, that our marriage was fine, how I’m partly to blame I don’t get.

    • Falling Ash

      Strength – like you, I see elements of myself in all three scenarios, which is probably a common response. We are all complex and individual and therefore don’t fit into neat little compartments. I do find some of her comments a bit judgemental and accusatory towards the betrayed spouse. There is no way I “made” my OH cheat. That was his choice and his faulty thinking in how to deal with perceived problems in our relationship. He could have chosen to talk to me about them instead of meeting in secret with the OW. Now there’s a novel approach! LOL

      • Strengthrequired

        Falling ash, I agree, I didn’t make my husband cheat either, if I had any part in making that decision, I would have told him, don’t do it. So if he had come to me, I would have said ust that. He made his own choice, I had no part in his decision, so the blame is on him, not me. He could have turned her down flat, he could have honoured our vows, but he didn’t. So why should I take the blame for his doing. If I had any control over his actions, he wouldn’t have gone down that road with the ow. So completely powerless here, it truly wouldn’t and didn’t matter what I said during that time, he was going through something even he didn’t understand, so of course, he chose the wrong path to travel, and he only listened to what she told him, and what he wanted to do. I didn’t factor into it at all, except for taking on the blame.

    • Alice

      This woman is also very pro-open marriage (Google some of her other articles) so I don’t really know what business she has talking about affair recovery.

      • Strengthrequired

        Alice, when reading some of her comments and getting to the points where she likes one on one sessions as well as the couple sessions, I’m not sure what it was, but I kept imagining her in the one on one sessions with the cheater trying to seduce them. It was strange but that was the image that kept coming to my mind. See, I don’t trust much anymore lol.

    • Untold

      Agree with comments above. Article may be interesting for a bit, then I got tired of reading it. Seems to put all the responsibility for success in recovery on how well the betrayed spouse gets over it. Maybe I didn’t get to part about the contribution of remorse and repentance from the cheater, and their work to restore the marriage. I find it depressing and discouraging.

      • Strengthrequired

        Untold, that’s how I felt, while reading what I could before getting tired of it. While reading I felt what’s the point, I haven’t gotten over the affair, I doubt I ever will. It will always be with me and I assume my husband too.

    • Alice

      SR,
      She kind of strikes me as a narcissist. I cant really describe it but she just seems like she’s the type of person that thrives off of attention. Not really someone you want counseling you. Another example of how damaging the wrong therapist can be to someone trying to recover.

      • Strengthrequired

        Alice, when people are vulnerable and feeling alone, they would accept what any therapist says, until they learned more and that it wasn’t their fault. I know I took the blame at the start of my husbands affair, thinking there was something wrong with me, having a therapist confirm it would have been very damaging. I’m glad I found here to show me that it wasn’t my fault, and that was a year of me believing it was, even though I was trying to figure out how it was, because even when I found here he was still in his affair.

    • Shifting Impressions

      Sounds like we are all on the same page with this one. Here is one therapist I would run very far away from.
      She explores the riches in the affair in order to apply them to the PRIMARY RELATIONSHIP!!!

      What the hell….marriage is not just a primary relationship…eluding that secondary relationships are okay???? Marriage is exclusive. If you read this through a few times it seems to get worse.

      • Strengthrequired

        Si, like I would want any part of my Cs affair to be in my marriage. It was cheap, humiliating, damaging, and hurt everyone involved, as well as to mention not realistic, just parts of two people showing each other something that was not true. Why would I want that in my marriage, we didn’t last as long as we have, for being fake.

      • exercisegrace

        Primary relationship. Yes, that was lovely wasn’t it? AS IF other relationships are no big deal. WHY this woman gets so much press, so much attention is beyond me. She is dangerous to the traditional concept of marriage. Beware people.

      • Holdingon

        I think she might have meant to find out what the CS needed from the AP and use that to fix things in your marriage. Just guessing though.

    • Falling Ash

      Help!!! I am having another apalling day. Found out this morning that OH has hidden from me for a week that he allowed another woman to hug him. This particular woman being one I knew he was attracted to and asked him to have no interactions with other that strictly professional conversations. She left the job last week. We have had a whole week of telling each other about our days and…nothing! He only confessed this morning because I point blank asked him about it as my gut was doing an alarm call. Apparently he allowed it as he was “just being polite”. Can I have you’re opinions please. I am going out of my mind.

      • exercisegrace

        I would sit down with him when you feel calmer (or ideally with your counselor present) and revisit the concept of boundaries. I would feel much better about it if he had come home and told you immediately and said something along the lines of…..I didn’t know what to do! It was a going away office party and she was hugging everyone…..
        Somehow your husband needs to understand that this one simple act has eroded a great deal of the progress towards healing, because it damages your trust in him. I remember our counselor driving the point home to my husband that he needs to have MUCH stronger boundaries than most, now that he has had an affair. What might be ok or acceptable for some (or even for him, once upon a time) is no longer acceptable in his world. She point blank told him that even the smallest of transgressions would likely lead to the end of our marriage, because it would destroy our progress.

        • Falling Ash

          Thanks for your wise words, EG. I think I/we will need to go back to counselling. We have had those boundary conversations and agreed no touching with ANY woman, never mind one he had an inappropriate attraction to. He has both broken that agreement and then lied about it. Double betrayal of my trust.

          • TheFirstWife

            It may well be that your OH has some serious issues. He continues to show a lack of control. Hugs? Never should have happened for even one second.

            What is he not understanding? Why does he continue to act like that?

            Why do you think the disrespect continue?

            How frustrating for you. Hope you get to the bottom of this and get it to stop

    • exercisegrace

      Esther Perel sickens me. The only people that seem to enjoy her particular brand of advice are the cheaters. She leans very far to the idea of open marriages. So it seems ludicrous to take her advice when she basically advocates screwing around but with ground rules. Notice that in her examples, she is willing to fillet the behavior of the betrayed spouse and label them as bitter. But she doesn’t explore the behaviors of the cheating spouse that perhaps triggered those behaviors. The spouse goes somewhere and is unreachable by phone for an extended period of time and somehow the betrayed spouse is the one with issues? Seriously? How about calling out the cheating spouse for not being transparent? For not communicating to put the betrayed spouse at ease? Once you cheat, it changes everything. And that is hard to swallow for the cheaters. If you want your marriage to survive and thrive, you have to held to a different standard than you were before. Because clearly, that one didn’t work out so well for your spouse. Further, Perel suggests simply ASKING the cheating spouse what is going on. Well I can’t speak for all of us here, but MY husband became a MASTER at lying. He could look me dead in the eyes and tell whoppers. No hesitation. So while I trust what he says most of the time, for those early in the game I advocate verified trust.

      Once you cheat, you show your spouse what you are capable of doing. Even if you’ve learned your lesson and never cheat again you have proven that you are both willing and able, given the right set of circumstances. And Perel outright suggests that the betrayed spouse has culpability in creating those circumstances. NO. WRONG. If the betrayed spouse could be faithful, so could the spouse that cheated. Same life, same marriage, different CHOICES. In Perel’s example above, “Debbie” feels that Marc has never fully owned what he did. Further, she states that he still tries to “justify” his actions. Why wasn’t THAT explored further? Perhaps he is still engaging in many of the same behaviors or expressing the same sense of entitlement that led to the affair in the first place. To me, it would be a good starting point to see why she is obviously feeling so unsafe. I could almost guarantee he is still doing or saying something that makes her feel insecure.

      The Claire and Julian example makes me gag. To me it reads kind of like……So tell me what your whore did and said that lit your fire. Maybe we can incorporate some of that into OUR relationship. WIN for the cheating spouse. Reality check time Esther. Affairs aren’t real life. What is done and said during affairs is largely irrelevant. Because they all boil down to the same thing. Affairs are not reality. Affair partners will do and say anything to keep the fantasy going. And it IS a fantasy. Plop them down in the real world, and let the whore wash his dirty clothes, pick up after him, take care of his kids and his elderly mother, pay the bills, and so on. THEN we can talk about a more level playing field. IF I had no task with my husband other than being his whore, making myself available and dressing up every day to go to work? It would be a breeze. No stress there!

      Three years out from d-day and i can say that the biggest factor in staying and rebuilding trust has been my husband’s willingness to own what he did. While I don’t want to spend the rest of our lives bashing him for this, it WILL always be what HE DID. It will not be covered over with pretty euphemisms like Perel suggests and be called “an event in our life”. It could all have been prevented if he had only been honest with me. Told me the depth of his depression over work and finances etc., instead of allowing the flattery of a co-worker to go too far.

      Lastly, I am in NO way saying we shouldn’t all work on our marriages. Strengthen them, build them up. We should. BUT. That should be done as a completely separate issue from the affair. And in my opinion it should start when the betrayed spouse is ready to do so. It took me awhile to even be able to contemplate what I/we could do to improve our marriage. I was far to hurt and betrayed. And sorry Esther, but I don’t really give a squirrel’s arse about what the affair partner gave him. If it was that great, he would be with HER today, not ME. The STD was gift enough.

      • Shifting Impressions

        EXACTLY!!!!! WELL SAID, EG!!!

    • Alice

      EG,
      I think you should take some steps to become a certified counselor. You not only get the psychology behind affairs, but you have the ability to explain it very well. I think you could change a lot of lives for the better.

    • Tryinghard

      I think Esther Perle should suck it!!!! Nuf said 🙂

    • Beckyb2

      Last night I asked my husband what will he do if his hoho #? Myexwhore friend or any of his pros or hohos show up at our sons funeral and celebration of life? He has been omitting to tell me his hoho came to his shop to ask him if she did anything wrong REALLY!? Talk about retarded at a teen age stage DUH and HE decided not to tell me get this (drum roll please snarky am I NO I AM SO PISSED I AM AWAKE again ) he chose to lie to me because I haven’t handled his drip drip drop drop of information over 4 confused years . I am so sick of anyone saying oh go to a counselor guess what, they only work for healthy people they don’t work for sick people .He can’t see how his lies and his manipulation just compound his own issue of controlling me by controlling my information and thereby controlling my choices as to see him as anything but a lying cheating two faced manipulating abuser who sees himself as a good person . I’m ready to go far far away and hire a really nasty divorce lawyer and a pi that isn’t so nice either. Oh and hohoexnonwhorefriends daughter has also contacted my children about our son who died. My last week and a half have been hellacious and I am about to crack. I feel such disgust at how he still justifies his own holding the damn pieces of his whorey puzzle I have about 400 of over 8000 pieces of his puke worthy picture of himself at his most immature destructive self deceptive conman and what does he expect me to see as a good man? How blind can he be he really thinks of himself as a good guy hmm seems he never knew how to be a good guy. I’m tired rant over.

      • TheFirstWife

        Becky my heart breaks for you. This is truly the worst time of your life. I cannot begin to imagine the tidal wave of emotions – grief, despair, sadness, over your loss.

        Compounded by your H not doing what he should. It is enough to make anyone crack. But you are hanging in there with both hands clenching and trying to hold your family together through all of the ups and downs. You are a good person for being able to see past your troubles and be a rock through all of this.

        I know this may not help right now but it might be good for you to go to counseling alone. Not to fix your marriage or change your H or even try to get information. But to help you deal with your losses – child, marriage (what it was prior to affair and what your marriage is now), the loss of the H you once had vs the H you have now.

        It is very difficult to adjust to having to look at someone you know and loved and trusted and thought you knew better than anyone and loved for so long to the person they have become. To know your H is a liar, cheater, manipulator with NO APPARENT REMORSE. Not willing to do the right thing.

        But I believe a good therapist (and I had one through this ordeal ) can help you. YOU! Put yourself first. Deal with your pain and focus on healing yourself and over time, getting to a better place. Accept your H for what he is now. That is the first step. It may help you release your frustration and anger. Lower your expectations and you cannot be facing the frustration of his continued behavior regarding his affair(s).

        When I held out my H would be honest 200% about his affair AND then I found out he wasn’t 200% honest I was floored. But therapy helped me accept him for who he is now, him trying very hard to help fix the situation (even though he made every Classic mistake) and the fact that he will never be the same person on my eyes. It is sad but some of the things he said to me can never be erased. That is reality.

        There are so many stages to grief. You have been through 4 years of the death of the marriage you had and trying to rebuild a marriage you can celebrate. Sounds like you hit many hurdles along the road. And with the loss of a child you now need your H more. I hope he can step up for you. And I hope other friends and family can offer support and a hug when needed.

        If I lived near you I would be at your door in a minute. Just to be there for you. Prayers to you.

      • exercisegrace

        Becky, this would be a deal breaker for me. No whore has the right to attend such a deeply personal and traumatizing event in your life. I would DEMAND my husband be on the same page with me. Is there any way you could have a couple of trusted people stand at the door and discreetly make sure none of these whores get inside? Perhaps make it a family and close friends only service, alert the funeral home people and let them help handle it? And screw your husband’s embarassment!

    • TryingHard

      How many chances do we give them to be honest and authentic in their commitments? How clear do we have to make the term NO CONTACT?

      If the husband’s answer to the insinuating OW was anything less than ” Yes you did do something wrong. Yes you insinuated yourself into our lives where you are definitely NOT wanted. My wife made it very clear you are not welcome or wanted in any way in our lives.I do not want to speak to you. Please leave me and my family alone. I do not need nor am I interested in your condolences.” I have a big feeling this was def NOT said. I have a feeling it went more like “no schmoopie you didn’t do anything wrong” just enough to leave the door open for further contact and communication. What a better way for the AP to strike than during a time of grief. Typical and expected and this is why I HATE AP’s. The linger and wait in the shadows like cockroaches for their next opportunity to sneak in. And the cheater lets them by his passive/aggressive bullshit attitude toward them.

      I cannot believe, compounded on top of her grief, even THEIR grief, over the loss of their son that he continues to cover his OWN ass by not being honest and forthright about the contact. He is not protecting his wife with his cover up as he professes, he’s covering his ass and he likes the attention from her.

      BB2 I do think you should see someone, but NOT a MC, a therapist just for you to help you deal with your grief. I’m glad you are angry over this. You should be. It’s wrong. BUT I don’t think you should make ANY life altering decisions right now. You have too much on your plate with just having lost your son. Mr. Liarpants and his bullshit should be placed on the back burner. If there was EVER a time to take care of YOU and YOU alone, it’s NOW.

      “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Maya Angelou. Your H has shown you over and over that he is a liar and a master manipulator of information. He can’t help himself. He doesn’t know how to be honest, he only knows how to cover his actions. That’s his problem, not yours. Meantime find someone, ANYONE but him, to trust with your emotions. He wants to act like an insensitive ass that’s on him. Don’t even bother with the PI, you have all the info you need. He was tested and he failed, AGAIN. But please do find a good therapist. Certainly no one that promotes the bullshit Esther Perle type of therapy. I hate Ester Perle and her dogma. I hope she gets the clap from a cheating partner.

      I’m so sorry BB2. Actually you’ve been on my mind a lot this week with the loss of your son. Right now the only thing that matters if YOUR well being. I too wish I were there to comfort you. I hope you have friends and family that can do that. You take care.

      • TheFirstWife

        Okay I am out of chances. I have mentioned my H’s affair (he says strictly EA, not sure I believe it). After 17 years she emailed him last month.

        When I told him he was SO UPSET. He knew this did not make him look good. I know they have not had contact in all those years. She reached out to him by an old email address.

        I suspect she is divorced and maybe hoping he is too. She is a nut beyond all nuts.

        The fact that we continue to have these situations (and these emails are not from OW but just very overly friendly emails from people he knows from grad school and work and seminars) just does not bode well. And he knows it.

        I am certain he is not doing anything wrong here. But I have said I do not want this to continue. And yet it does. He does not respond. He does not initiate. But knowng ALL that went on in the past and how little tolerance I have is not making him look good or let the past die. It will always be there.

        Too bad for him. One day I will just get fed up and do something about it. As my mother always said you make your bed you lie in it. Well now his past is coming back to bite him. He played with fire and now he is getting burned. I am low on tolerance. It had better stop soon.

        So in essence he lied to me about the extent of his relationship with Grad school girl, gaslighted me into making me believe I was crazy, admitted his affair to his last OW and now grad school girl reappears. Lucky me.

        I so want to put her on Facebook AND contact her husband. Give her a taste of her own medicine.

        • TheFirstWife

          Sorry that should be out her on Facebook

    • Inthepainpit

      I hear you all. I am two years out from my husband’s 5 year “marriage” to another woman. I say marriage because they celebrated anniversaries. He has cut all contact, and recommitted to us. If he were to do this again I would be done. I read these and ask the question, how much of this depends on our own a) emotional intelligence, and b) personality traits. I struggle because I am a glass half empty type of person, therefore I find myself stuck in sadness and pain. I haven’t found the strength I once had. Anger was howi pulled myself out of darkness inn the past, the” to hell with you ” mantra, but that doesn’t work when you want to save the marriage. Just my own thoughts, I fully see all the previous points, I just don’t want to be that angry anymore. My anger has moved to sadness I guess, I can’t hurt others when I am sad.

      • TryingHard

        Inthepainpit

        Oh yes you can hurt someone, YOU. If you don’t want to be angry, don’t be angry. But in my world being angry is a much better place to be than sad.

        Work through your own issues. Two years you should be getting close but everyone has their own time line. Don’t push for the sake of keeping up. Get to a therapist well trained in PTSD and infidelity. Don’t give up on yourself.

        You may not end up saving a marriage but you will end up saving yourself. Half full, half empty who cares what it’s called, it’s a shit place to be. Save yourself first just like they instruct you on the airplanes. Put YOU own oxygen mask on first then deal with the others.

        Actually I think the “to hell with you” attitude is a good place to be until you have sorted through everything. And sort you MUST. It will NOT go away unless you do that. Don’t sweep your feelings under the rug. Just because he does, you shouldn’t. So not healthy or helpful.

        You can get there, but NOT without a whole lotta work on your part. I’m not talking about your marriage, I’m talking about what is right for YOU. You’ll figure it out eventually or not. It’s up to you to make your own happy.

        • Holdingon

          Yes, yes, yes. Being angry is so much better then sad. It’s taken me over a year to get mad at my wife, I only wish that I could have gotten mad a lot earlier. But be very careful, anger can explode if your not careful. I asked my wife a question and received a snide comment, the next thing I knew she was on the way to the hospital, I threw a cup and it hit her beside her eye and she had to get stiches, before her affair I’ve never laid a hand on any woman in anger, never, if someone told another person that knows me, they would swear it never happened. It kills me that I got to that point, it’s something I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for. I’ll never let myself get to that point ever again. Not an excuse, but there was tequila involved and I don’t drink. So be careful when anger rears it’s ugly head.

          • TheFirstWife

            Sometimes people drive us to do things you would never expect. I say move past it and try not to get so angry at her. Not that she doesn’t deserve anger but it doesn’t help YOU feel good.

            My H has forced me to do things I never would have expected. I initially stayed b/c of $ and financial security while thevaffair was going on. I stayed for my kids sake. I never thought I would tolerate a lying cheating spouse.

            But I have made sure I protected myself financially. I have changed my bank accounts and have left my children all my $. That is my snarky revenge.

      • TheFirstWife

        I feel for you. I have been stuck this year and it will be 2 years since DDay2 soon.

        But I went through the anger stage (finally) only recently. It was a few months long. But all he pent up anger and sadness reared it’s ugly head. I finally decided to put myself first. Not everyone else.

        I know why I have anger and resentment towards him for many reasons. This was not his first affair. and I had no proof of an EA 17 years ago. But I knew the relationship was inappropriate. And then his last affair. Lasted 12 months. He was going to divorce me for her.

        So yes it is kind of hard to believe things are different and he really does love me. He treats me well. He tries real hard. But you cannot undo things that were said and done. It just doesn’t work that way. Sorry. I will always remember.

        I think, for me, I no longer rely on “him” to make me complete or happy. My life, my happiness. I come first and try to do things I enjoy. I have a whole weekend to read a good book (he is away). See my friends. Do whatever makes me happy.

        Therapy should not be for you & him. It should be about you. My H refused therapy. Only when I was ready to leave did he suggest we go. Really I no longer need it. I have goten to the place I need to be. He put me through hell and I came out better for it. On top. Head held high. Good person.

        So there is the possibility of you can separate your life into pieces as a wife, mom, friend, etcetera. Concentrate on your life as friend and mom and make your happiness a priority. When the H is no longer the center of our world and you can take a step back, you can see how freeing it is to have your own life in front of you. If he fits into a place he can join in. If not you can decide what YOU need to do to make it work.

    • MsB

      Visit Chumplady.com for the low-down on Esther Perel. She’s useless.

      • TheFirstWife

        I read the post. I disagree with much of Ester’s views. Basically the BS “needs to get over it”.

        That is true. We do need to deal with it and move forward. Easier said than done.

        Her attitude is one that does not help the BS at all. Not sure why Doug & Linda would post anything she writes. I do not find her helpful.

        In fact she can undermine any progress a BS makes.

    • Halinka

      I could not believe what I was reading here wondering how this was supposed to help. I desperately tried to find some good in this and then as I started reading all the replies, I realized my feelings on this piece were that of others. My first thought is, going back to see the couples after 5 years wondering how their relationships faired just goes to show all the therapy in the world won’t help a BS heal and clearly Ester sucks as a therapist.

      I found out my husband cheated throughout most of our marriage. His long term friend and once a year f*ck buddy (Martha from Atlanta) was in his life for 30 years. We had been married 34 years before I found out and needless to say I was destroyed not only after finding out about Martha but that there were others. My husband duped all of us and he was good at it. He never made me feel suspicious and because I felt so secure I had convinced myself that he would never cheat on me. I felt so damn foolish!

      Reuniting with these couples after 5 years of therapy just goes to prove that the BS will never get over the affair. When I am asked as to how I am doing, I reply “I am managing”. For me that is all I can offer right now.

      • TheFirstWife

        I feel so sorry for you. It is terrible to be so blindsided like that. Believe me we have all been there. My H had one 3 yr EA 17 years ago. I knew about her and I saw how obvious she was. I used to tell HIM all the time to watch himself around her b/c it was obvious she liked him more than a friend. And she did.

        He gaslighted me the entire time and painted me as the jealous one b/c nothing was going on. Then there was his recent affair 2 yrs ago. He told me 2x he wanted a divorce but was not b/c of anyone else. Really it was to be with her.

        So I spent 18 months in therapy b/c I felt lied to, humiliated, stupid, duped, walked all over and made to feel like a fool. Especially when he asked for divorce, begged me to take him back the next day, then dumped me again a few days later. I was like a yo-yo.

        My fa

        • TheFirstWife

          My fabulous therapist told me that the BS should not feel shame. The cheater should. The BS should not feel guilt the cheater should. The BS should not worry about the marriage going forward the cheater should worry IF the BS will remain in the marriage.

          The BS beats themself up for doing nothing wrong. There is NO excuse for cheating. Get a divorce or separate first. No need to cheat.

          It sounds like your H cheated for 30 years because he was a coward and had no morals. Not b/c your were “not a good wife”. He self medicated himself with an affair. Much like alcoholics or addicts. He used affairs as his weapon of choice.

          No one can believe my H cheated. He was the “good guy” that everyone believed was the one that would never do that. SURPRISE! Even I was blind sided this last time around.

          But I think you need to get your power back and redefine your relationship. Don’t be the same wife in the same relationship. Redirect your focus and make yourself and your happiness your #1 priority. When I stopped blaming myself and acting like the victim and “poor me” I saw my self esteem rebound and I took control of my life and relationship.

          I reached a point where I sm good with or without him. Happy no matter what.

          I hope you can get there too. But please know your H is responsible for his choices and he has to live with himself. I seriously don’t know how these cheaters look at their own face in the mirror each day. Oh wait they lie to themselves as good as they lie to their spouse. The difference is we eventually figure out the extent of their lies but they continue to believe the lies they tell themselves. That is how they get through the day.

          I take each day one day at a time. I now know why most marriages don’t survive infidelity. It takes years to recover from. And some things just cannot be undone.

          You have to now look at this person so diffetently – they are now a liar and cheater in your eyes. Not the living H or W you once thought they were.

          After some of the terrible things my H told me to justify his affair – how I was not a good wife, blah blah blah, he now wants me to believe I sm wonderful and perfect blah blah blah. Which one is it? I’m supposed to forget the horrible things you said? Not on your life pal. I can forgive you. I can understand it. But I will never forget it. They were cold and mean and calculated and meant to inflict pain.

          I honestly believe there was a period when he wanted the OW soooo badly he was willing to tell himself anything to justify the affair. One day I actually told him if he wanted to be with her, feel free. Go ahead and leave. But be a man and own it and stop sneaking around. I was holding the door open. He just refused to leave.

          That is why I like the movie Gone girl. Her revenge is spot on. Haha. Cheaters should sleep with one eye open. I could never be that mean or evil.

          • Halinka

            Thank you I agree. I have told him I owe him nothing. I am not fighting to save my marriage I am saving myself. Let his 60 year self deal with his decisions in life and how it hurt our children so much. The only thing I tell myself is I want him to prove himself as an honorable man to our children.

            He now is desperate and it makes me wonder why this man who was so desperate for attention from other women now wants to get that from me.

            Pathetic as far as I am concerned.

    • Scott

      Perel is a worthless apologist for philanderers. She defends the cheater until it makes no sense and she blames the betrayed spouse for everything. Notice Marc is frustrated his betrayed wife doesn’t own her part of the problem before he cheated (even though he cheated multiple times). I’ve said it all along. There’s two people and a marriage. Infidelity is an all out assault on both the marriage and the innocent person. Shame on “Marc” for not having the guts to seek counseling and fix himself before he points the finger at her. And there’s Perel, in the middle, cheering Marc on, blaming the innocent spouse. She’s really a waste of air, and not constructive at all for anyone who’s ever been cheated on.

      My belief is she’s desperately trying to change people’s mindset about cheating, and it’s backfiring. And I would assume those who go through her therapy are only going to have their points of view validated and not addressed. Thus Marc can run around blaming his wife instead of himself, and his wife is stuck still trying to get Marc and her boneheaded therapist Perel to understand the horrific level of pain and suffering she’s living with. If I were in her spot I’d feel the same way. She’s been yelling at the world to listen to her and Marc gets to blame her and Esther gets to tell her she’s stuck.

      Next time post something from a real therapist, not some attention grabbing quack. Perel’s a monster and the worst therapist betrayed spouses have to deal with.

      • TryingHard

        Halinka
        EP is in her own little psycho world. She speaks with a lot of authority and it’s all wrong.

        No you are not the foolish one, your husband was for cheating on a good woman like you. Do not berate yourself. How could you have known? Cheaters are master liars. They all are unequivocally. We expect to be treated the same as we treat others. You have a good kind trusting heart. How could you have thought anything else?

        The worst thing, the absolute worst thing you can do is blame yourself or blame your innocence. Trust me there’s plenty of folks who want to judge do just that so don’t give them any more help.

        • TheFirstWife

          I am glad to hear you are in a good place.

          And I agree that once caught all of a sudden they are desperate to save the marriage. It makes no sense. But then again neither does cheating.

          I was wondering how you found out about this long term affair. Did he admit it? Get caught? Someone told you?

          My H told me about the first part of his recent affair and then they started up again 6 weeks later. I had to call her to find out about the second round of the affair. Not fun having to go to the OW for details about your own life.

          • Halinka

            TheFirstWife,

            May 2nd, 1984 I opened up my Facebook page and realized that I had private messages that I had ignored. One of them was a message from Patricia advising me of a very serious relationship she had with my H for 10 years. He dumped her and she was very upset and after moving to Las Vegas she thought they could remain friends. She also told me about all the overseas trips he took her on and pictures to prove it then she added that he had told her of a 10 year affair he had when we lived in New Jersey and her name was Martha. When I clicked on Patricia’s name I was stunned to see she had posted pictures of the two of them, many of which were taken overseas. He couldn’t lie about Patricia but he tried to lie about Martha convincing me it was a brief affair back in 1984 but I started investigating because little did he know I had access to his phone records online and came across numbers often called. One stuck out from Atlanta and I found Martha. Shocked beyond belief that she never went away! Thinking there had to be more I accessed his voicemails and found a message from a gal from England (our home country). I confronted him and he admitted he had met her and had been seeing her once a year for about 7 years. Unfortunately I also came across a new email account on our home computer where he had met a woman from craigslist that he hooked up with briefly. Martha ignored my calls and text messages and threatened me with harassment. Patricia told me to “look in the mirror as I only have myself to blame”. It sickens me that she took so many pictures of them as if a couple, introduced him to her coworkers and her adult sons. I have been through hell and back, took an overdose and ending up going through inpatient psychiatric care. Its all so sad!

            • Halinka

              Correction: the Facebook message was in 2014. His first affair started in 1984.

            • TheFirstWife

              I am sorry for all of it for you. And the way these OW come across. They actually believe the crap the cheaters tell them. These “women” are even more stupid than our cheating husbands.

              I hope the cheaters and OW get the karma they deserve.

              My H knows I sm in control of my future and that I am not the “weak” person he presumed I was.

            • Halinka

              Patricia believed everything he said including that she was the only one he was having sex with. None of these women demanded protection so yes, they were stupid. She had the nerve to tell me he was a wonderful husband. Another duped idiot.

    • TrustingGod

      I don’t know why they posted this tripe, either. It so clearly demonstrates Perel’s narcissism and her stance as a cheater apologist. Perel is NOT a relationship expert.

      • Halinka

        Clearly she has failed so now she wants to see if she can change the way the BS reacts after D day. Seeing that her couples still struggle after many many years shows to be an epic fail on her part.

    • Strengthrequired

      I’m not so sure my cd loves me, I know it definitely isn’t the same as he did before his affair, I know he loves me to some degree, he tells me that he does, but I just don’t feel it. I think in some ways due to that feeling. Maybe his ow was right, he is only here for the kids. I know he has changed, a few things he picked up during his affair, have stayed with him, like not caring if he calls to tell me if he will be later than expected. Telling me he needs to think of himself before anyone else.
      I remember feeling so loved, now I just don’t feel it. I feel like I am just here. I struggle to believe that things will improve, that it’s just because he is so busy with work, to even give a nice compliment without me fishing for one. I feel like his I love yours are just words, that don’t mean anything. Maybe I feel like I have lost the way I viewed our marriage prior to his affair, and feel left with just her left overs. Maybe I just feel like I deserve to feel loved after all he put us through, the emotional side not the supporting our family side, it’s the emotional side I feel like I’m missing out on.
      Now I know he tries, we check in with each other each day, but it’s that old feeling of being his everything, that I feel like doesn’t exist anymore. I wish I didn’t feel this way,, but I miss feeling how we used to feel. Everything now seems so much harder. He tells me that he doesn’t understand why I feel this way, because he says he shows me, and gets offended that I question how he feels, yet he likes to remind me now that he looks out for number one now, that’s himself.

      • Strengthrequired

        I guess I just miss feeling like I was his one and only, that I meant everything to him. I hate that I feel the need to question how he feels, I miss him, us. I’m afraid that if I keep feeling this way, that I will fall out of love with him, and that is the last thing I want.

        • Halinka

          Strengthrequired,

          I think you are feeling this way because its hard to trust and your feelings of hurt are getting in the way of your true emotions for him. I feel the same way and in fact I actually don’t love my husband any more. After finding out that his infidelity lasted over 30 plus years, tells me I was never number one. I now feel used and yes every day I hear he loves me but I think he has a fear of losing me because its what he is used to and not necessarily because he really loves me. I feel pity for the man that lost his chance because I know it will never be the same. These women got more from him than I ever did. I was the chief cook and bottle washer and they were his fantasy relationships. Shame! I have no intention of moving on because I actually don’t see myself any happier. Mostly I have come to terms with what has happened and am not invested in this marriage as a couple but more as a way of life. I can deal with it until something changes.

          • Strengthrequired

            Halinka, thank you, I do believe he loves me, yet to me it feels different. It’s hard to explain, maybe it’s me who feels that the love I deserve should be stronger, better, more tender and looked after emotionally. In some ways it does feel like the pre affair love, but maybe now my eyes are open to wanting it better, maybe that old pre affair love is not enough for me anymore.
            I saw how my husband dropped everything for his ow, how he wanted to spend every waking moment with her. How he would tell people how beautiful she was, and he no doubt told her. Is it too much to want some of that, to just feel like he made her feel.?
            As I said, maybe I have realised I want a better, deeper, stronger love, from him, not one that I feel is lacking, especially when I know he is capable of making someone feel special.
            He on the other hand has reverted back to comfortable, I want more than comfortable.
            Yet I too don’t want to be with anyone else but him, so I guess that dream is just that a dream.

        • TheFirstWife

          Strength required. Your name says it all.

          It does take strength each and every day.

          Some days it feels ok and others it feels like it takes all my effort to just get out of bed.

          From my experience men don’t know the finer relationship details. Please hear me out as this comes from my therapist/marriage counselor. He is an expert. Not me.

          My H at first tried to “fix” things. It went horribly wrong. He made every classic mistake. Continued to hide things that would make him look worse. In the end I was ready to leave b/c I could not face one more lie. But then he realized his mistakes and started working on it.

          Women intuitively know how to put relationships back on track. Men do not.

          That being said your H probably does love you. He just does not know how to show it. To him the fact that he says it is enough. To women it is not. You want to be in s place where if he never said I love you ever again, it would be ok b/c you felt it.

          When my therapist started with men don’t know how to communicate crsp I said that is crap. He explained they will communicate to attract you and win you but then it dies b/c it is not in their nature to sustain it. I believe wives are a substitute for their mothers. We then get associated with that role somewhat. If we say no to something we are in the “mom” role.

          It makes some sense to some degree.

          I feel your pain b/c every one here is or was in that same position.

          But you have to separate (however hard it is) the infidelity from having anything to do with you. Your H has issues and no sense of boundaries

          I believe any one who was his wife would have had the same experience. He sounds like he would cheat on anyone who was his wife no matter what.

          You need to value yourself separate and apart from the marriage. And it sounds like you have. Look for your satisfaction in life from other areas. I know I sm a good wife and mother. I volunteer and read and just enjoy life to its fullest.

          I don’t put too many others first before me. You should do the same. Become your first priority. Get something going outside your home and marriage. You will see being busy and rewarded can change your perspective and over time you won’t need his “I love you” as much as you think.

          All the best.

          • Scott

            “Women intuitively know how to put relationships back on track. Men do not.”

            If that were true then why is Esther Perel so clueless? From the sounds of it, her success rate is the same as every other therapist, 10-20%. And she’s a female.

            Speaking as someone who watched a wife run out the door to another man, I’m not giving the moral or intellectual ground to one sex over another in “fixing” anything. Broken people can’t fix anyone, and it’s not their victim’s job to fix them or anyone else.

            • TryingHard

              I’m with you Scott. Pretty sexist thing to say. Men are cheating with women, unless they are gay.

              It’s a matter of character and sense of entitlement. SR’s husband sounds like the kind of guy who’s going to do what he wants when he wants and puts forth just enough effort to keep her home watching all his kids.

              SR, I thought you were going to look for work now that your children are all in school? How’s the job search going?

            • Strengthrequired

              Th, next year my youngest starts school. Just have to finish my diploma first. Finishes next year.
              You know th, he really does work hard and very long hours, and i do know he is under a lot of pressure from customers to finish up before Xmas, and I do know he deserves time to himself after long days, but my gripe is him thinking that I should be the one to call if he is late, because he doesn’t have the time, he is too busy. I believe if he is going to be later than expected then it doesn’t hurt to even just send a txt. He does try, especially after I say something, and I really don’t want to stress him out anymore, you know get worried about pushing him back into some sort of depression.
              Don’t get me wrong, he is very committed at getting us back in front, such as debt wise since the effects of his affair was so damaging in that area, and we do try and make sure we go out together at least once a week, but I guess after thinking more through the night, that I’m the one that feels like I need more than just comfortable, we became comfortable and look where that got us, almost destroyed our marriage, so comfortable to me isn’t where I want to be,, I want more than comfortable, one that can with stand anything, and still keep us together.
              I at times feel like I struggle getting past his affair, so I guess that’s why I want more, so I can get past it. I want to feel that he has my back without any doubts. Don’t forget, his family are returning, so I really need to know and feel from him that they can’t get between us.
              After all I almost lost my marriage because of his family. So maybe that’s another reason I’m feeling the way I am.
              Mayebi need to just resign into being content with just having my husband and keeping my family together, and maybe one day we will become a more stronger couple. Maybe my expectations are too high now.

            • TheFirstWife

              Scott you are right that there are women who are idiots and you cited two examples. It appears your wife did not want to fix or address her issues at that time. However misguided she was at that moment it was her choice to run to someone else. And we know how that worked out.

              People want to have to change. We all know that. No one can make them.

              I was referring to the H thinking saying I love you to his wife was good enough. It is not enough. But he doesn’t understand why. Many women would understand why it is not enough. My understanding is many men would not.

              People can sense when things are not heartfelt. For some people it is not important to say I love you b/c they feel loved. For others they need more.

              After a multi decade pattern of being a cheating H I believe the wife deserves more than words. And it may be necessary for her H to step up.

            • Untold

              I’m with Scott too. Men don’t own all the fog. Maybe on average women are more nurturing and relationship oriented. But my CW had her head so far up her ass she couldn’t put her lips back together much less our marriage. Entitlement and lack of character does transcend gender without doubt.

              Even now over a year past last major DDay, my wife can’t have a calm, sincere discussion about marriage issues. I don’t mean digging up the past, but current concerns, unhealthy behaviors or ugly triggers. Eye contact fails, hostility and contempt surface and it decays rapidly.

              Amazingly though, she can talk to a friend about their relationship and give advice all day, or even talk to our sons. Like she’s some expert! I can’t help but to think what a hypocrite. It’s hard to bear and I don’t know what to make of it.

            • Strengthrequired

              Untold, don’t you just love it when you see your Cs offer marital advice to others. Is it that because they were the one that cheated, that they somehow feel like they know all the answers, because well cheating didn’t help? I just see how easily they were to run into the arms of someone else, when the going got tough, how standing by their spouse through thick and thin was the last thing they thought of, how the marital vows meant nothing,
              Yet so freely helping others with their marriage comes so easily, because well they know. Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall during those conversations? I know if my husband would have followed his own advise, we wouldn’t have gone through what we have. Yet I know he still believes I’m the cause of his affair, because I was going through depression after the birth of our child. So instead of standing by me, he chose to cheat.

            • Untold

              Agree 100% with you SR. Knowing all the answers, and quick conclusions with little thought of pros, cons and consequences is another definite trait now of my CS. When she tells me that I overthink and overanalyze, I reply that maybe if she did it a little more our marriage wouldn’t have been trashed.

              And like you, I too have issues with intimacy and trust. Intimacy with her seems superficial, discussions shallow, situations uncomfortable that were not at all before the affair. Both in our 50’s we may start seeing some health issues, Can I trust she will be there for me? Tough call right now.

              Good luck on your connection.

            • Strengthrequired

              Untold, I hope everything improves for you too, I’m not depressed or sad like I used to be, I think I just expect more. hopefully one day he will show me what I mean to him, and our marriage can finally be stronger than ever.
              I hope the same for you.

          • Strengthrequired

            Tfw, I know he isn’t about to cheat again, I do believe he was in a bad place. I think I have realised that the love pre affair, isn’t strong enough for me anymore. Now he wanted to feel alive again, I assume, when he started to give in to his ow advances. I want to feel alive again, like I am his everything, and I feel it. It has to be stronger than before the affair, because the way I look at it now, is for an affair not to have the chance to surface again, it needs to be stronger. I guess that is why I feel like I’m lacking, and he thinks he is giving. He is a wonderful provider for our family, works so very hard, has plans for our future, yet this doesn’t mean as much to me as the closeness I want from him, the emotional side.
            As I said, I guess I just feel I deserve more now, more than pre affair where comfortable wasn’t enough for him, yet now it is. Maybe comfortable isn’t enough for me now.
            Maybe what I am feeling is my midlife.

    • Strengthrequired

      Doug, why are my comments coming up as awaiting moderation. I have also noticed on some blogs I can’t post at all. I type a comment and nothing appears at all.

      • Doug

        I noticed that as well. I”m not sure what the deal is other than I just added a security plugin to guard against malware, spam and other types of attacks. I wonder if it’s picking on you for some reason. You just be a cyber hacker!! 😉

        • Strengthrequired

          Lol, I must be, it just picks on me when it wants to. It decides what it wants me to comment on. Lol.

    • antiskank

      SR,
      I feel the same way you do in many ways. My H does little things for me that he thinks show his love. He tells me he loves me regularly and often tells me how great I look but I just don’t feel it. I have never had a real explanation for the affair, only “I’m sorry, I was confused”. I have had no real apologies for the affair or the horrendously hurtful things he said and did to me, no apology for the lies. I feel that he is trying to avoid confrontation and having to explain and thinks he can do that by saying he loves me. To me, it feels like he has a check-off list.
      – Tell her I love her : check
      – Tell her she looks good today : check
      – Make her breakfast : check
      Done for the day!!
      I often feel he is only with me because he has nowhere else to go and the skank is out of the picture now, other than possibly in his fantasies. I am still here working hard, doing the cooking, cleaning, earning money, taking care of life in general. Like you, I want to feel loved, feel special, the one and only, cherished, his first priority. I don’t want him to just feel comfortable because I am not raging and crying. There is most definitely something missing. I have tried and can’t fix it. I find myself pulling back because he doesn’t put in any effort and I can’t keep declaring my love and showering him with affection when I just don’t feel it being returned. He just doesn’t seem to feel I’m worth the effort!
      We are going away this week for a short vacation of shopping, casinos, and “fun”. I would normally look forward to it but these are the times that it really hits me that I am not happy with the status quo. I know it could be so much better if we were truly close as we should be. I am dreading Christmas because there are so many triggers over issues that have not been dealt with!
      Good luck to all over the pending holiday season! I wish you renewed happiness and would love to hear some heartwarming stories of things working out well.

      • Strengthrequired

        Antiskank, exactly. Yet I do still love my husband, I just want to feel like I’m worth it to him.

    • TryingHard

      SR. I read a good quote that said “There are all lives of love in this world but never the same one twice.”

      You will never know how he made her feel or how she made him feel. You can never know what that “live” is because it’s different for everyone. Love is different fur everyone. I’m sure you h thinks you must know he loves you after all he supports you. Unfortunately you/we will never know that first love infatuation with our husbands again. I don’t care what you do to heal. That infatuation love boat sailed and life and kids and responsibilities took its place. We aren’t young lovers anymore with all its starry eyed innocence. So the question is do you want to live in the fantasy of what was it wasn’t or maybe was with the OW or do you want a mature mutually respectful love? Maybe your h is giving that to you maybe not. Only you know. Go with your gut. I can’t believe he actually said he’s only going to put himself first. Wow what a selfish bastard. That’s certainly not a good way to be in a marriage.

      • Strengthrequired

        Th, you know I believe someone had placed this idea in his head during the affair, told him that he needs to start putting himself first, that his commitment to his family and placing everyone ahead of himself had caused him his depression. Now I don’t know if it was his ow or a male friend, but I do believe someone placed this thought into his head.
        now he does work so hard, he does take care of our family, he does so much, so I know he isn’t putting himself first when he works so hard, he is doing that for us, I guess that’s why I get thrown back when he does say, I now take care of me first. So if there is anything I know in him, is he has never been.a selfish person, only during his affair was he. Yet just that courtesy of a phone call or a txt to say, I’m sorry but I need to work later than expected, couldn’t go astray. Half the time you feel like all you do is wait.
        Tbh, I know he isn’t the only that has changed due to the affair, I have too…

    • Tryinghard

      SR
      I don’t think you should settle at all. I think you’re husband is being rude by not calling or texting. It’s rude plain and simple.

      And look, everyone’s busy, EVERYONE. He was busy I’m sure during his affair and he found time then to spare, right. Being busy and stressed can last forever. I mean forever!! My h has been busy his whole damn life. Always working, always late and until I put my foot down it didn’t change. That busy excuse is just that, an excuse.

      This is why I asked about you going to work. If he’s going to keep putting his business between you and him and as an excuse to be dismissive of your needs then maybe it’s time you find work outside the home and you get “busy” too with your own work and interests.. Working outside the home brings a lot of fulfillment. Not saying raising all those children wasn’t important. It was. But now that they are in school full time maybe it’s time you start doing something for you. After all if he’s going to put himself first he doesn’t need you to do it too. Put yourself first for once.

      • Strengthrequired

        Th, my husband has worked hard all his life too. He does let me know sometimes, as I have mentioned to him, you have time to let me know when your in the car. Yet I always get,, you can call. Yet he doesn’t seem to get that, if you are the one that’s going to be late, then it’s up to you.
        You know th, I was hoping things would get better with all the late hours, yet it is far better than what he was doing during his affair, yet I’m not sure I would have moved back, if I was still going to be taking the back seat. However my children are so much happier, the youngest is so excited for school next year, and well they all just adore their dad. It would have been selfish of me not to have. I am glad he is home every night now though.
        I just wonder how much strain is going to be placed on our marriage when his family return, I’m sure he will definitely making time in his busy schedule to see them. That will actually be taken out of the time we have with him.
        Yes, he did make the time to contact his ow, a million times a day, which is why I expect that courtesy of knowing if he is running late. He does call at least once a day, if he doesn’t I call first, but that’s nothing in comparison to the phenomenal amount of calls and txtx between him and her.
        Don’t worry, next year is the start of my time, just have to hope and pray that my two youngest have a better year than this year with how often they were sick. Poor little things. That is where looking for a job becomes hard, yet I will finish my diploma, and start doing some things for myself.
        I am looking forward to it, yet I know I will miss my little one, it’s hard to believe she is going to school, time has gone past so quickly,

    • TryingHard

      SR
      I hear you about missing your little one. LOL I have news, she’s going to grow up regardless if you are a stay at home Mom or not 🙂 Besides isn’t it better if she is raised by a happy fulfilled mother rather than one waiting waiting waiting for everyone to come home with nothing for herself?

      And yes, sick children make it very difficult to have a job. That is why it’s imperative to have good child care and that can be hard to find so maybe you should start investigating child care for next year. Give your husband something to work harder for 🙂

      • Strengthrequired

        Don’t worry lovely, I have things on the drawing board, it’s just deciding. I can’t leave my little ones with a childcare, they just pick up so much so quickly, I’m just hoping as they get older, they won’t get so sick so often. Yet I definately have some ideas. The only thing is the work I decide to do, will only be through school hours unless from home, I just can’t let my children not have me around too. If you know what I mean. I only have to go to the shops and they are calling me, lol. My younger four have really only had me around, especially when we moved away, and well during his affair too, I couldn’t imagine having them think I ditching them to do my own thing.

    • Rachel

      HAPPY THANKSGIVING ALL!!!!!
      I am thankful for all of you who get me thru the humps and bumps of my rocky road.
      I thank you all.
      And in case you all are wondering, yes I got a happy thanksgiving email from the ex. I am not thankful for that. : (
      #1 turkey!

      • Strengthrequired

        Happy thanks giving to all of you in the USA, although we don’t celebrate thanksgiving here, here is what I am thankful for.
        I am thankful for my children, thankful for the pain I felt soon to be almost four years ago dday, that it is no longer as painful. I am thankful that time has made it easier.
        I am thankful to everyone here.
        I am thankful to a brand new year fast approaching, and hoping that it brings everyone here joy and happiness.

    • TryingHard

      Happy thanksgiving to you Rachel!! Lol the ex is one big Jive Turkey!!!

    • Rachel

      I’m not getting any recent posts . Is it just me?

      • Doug

        Hey Rachel, Due to the holiday we posted an older one with some updates to it – if that’s what you mean, or are you not receiving the Friday email?

    • Antiskank

      I am having the same problem but can usually get more posts and comments if I reload the blog page every time I open it. That has been the case for a few weeks for me.

      • Doug

        Yes, we got a new security plugin and there is a cache element to it, so sometimes the site has to be reloaded to see new comments and posts. I may scrap the cache part of it except it does tend to speed the site load time up.

    • Rachel

      I usually go to the right side of the page to popular, latest , comments to see the latest of blogs.
      I only see blogs from November . It seems that the new blogs are not updating in that section.
      The latest from you, Doug is about suicides.

      • Doug

        Hmmm…When I logout and go to the blog and repeat your scenario, everything shows up fine. Perhaps you just need to refresh the page to see if that works. I’ve learned over time as well that if you visit a site frequently sometimes it helps to clear your browser’s cache.

    • Rachel

      Merry Christmas all!
      I still can’t get into the site I’m only seeing November 17 and previous posts.
      Happy New Year! May you all have a happy and peaceful 2016!

      • Doug

        Hi Rachel, I’m no computer expert but when I had a similar problem on another site, their support suggested that I clear my browser’s cache, and that did the trick. Perhaps you should try that as well. Oh…And Merry Christmas!

    • Anon

      Michael.

      You do not have to live with what you describe. That is not healthy.

      Doesn’t give you a “free pass” to cheat.

      You separate. You get a divorce. You tell the partner or spouse the M or relationship is over.

      You (or the other partner) moves out.

      You re-group and end the relationship. Full 100% “no contact” except if kids are involved.

      Then start dating or seeming ither relatioships. This way it is full disclosure to all parties.

    • TryingHard

      Michael— Nope that’s an untenable living experience and a horrible quality of life. You don’t cheat in this situation. You leave it. Cheating won’t help and could possibly endanger your life. You leave. Period

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