what is commitment in a marriage

Yesterday I discovered that a friend of ours – who just recently divorced – suddenly ran off and married his affair partner.  He stated that he married her to prove his commitment to her.

Obviously I was in shock and really didn’t understand what he meant by that statement.  It made no sense to me seeing that his marriage vows meant nothing to him in his previous marriage.  So why is it so important now?!

This situation really made me begin to think about commitment and what is commitment in a marriage.

Since Doug’s emotional affair I have definitely learned that commitment is more than a spoken vow or a piece of paper.   It takes much more than those things to keep a long term commitment in tact.   I began to question how we can build commitment and how we can keep it safe from outside influences.

Recently Doug posted some interesting articles in the Higher Healing area regarding commitment, so most of my information will be based on these articles.  One article, “The Expecations Trap” by  Hara Estroff Marano, is one of the best articles I have read, and it deals with the fact that we tend to blame our partners for our unhappiness and as a result, there is a lot of fallout from those beliefs.

Estroff Marano says:

Commitment is the ability to sustain an investment, to honor values over momentary feelings.  It isn’t a moment-by moment experience; the deepest, most enduring form of happiness is the result of sustained emotional investments in other people.”

Obviously being in love is not enough to sustain commitment, nor are choosing the right partner or changing the partner that you have.  Commitment involves encouraging yourself and your partner to be the best person they can be.

When we marry someone we innocently believe that the person we married today will be the same person twenty years down the road.  Marriage is about growth and its biggest challenge is helping the individuals grow up and constantly evolve.

In the article, Estroff Marano goes on to say:

Your partner becomes an ally in sculpting your ideal self, in bringing out the person you dream of becoming, leading you to a deep form of personal growth as well as long-term satisfaction with life and with the relationship.

It takes a partner who supports your dreams, the traits and qualities you want to develop-whether or not you have articulated them clearly or simply expressed vague yearnings”… “Such affirmation promotes trust in the partner and strengthens commitment… And commitment is a key predictor of relationship durability.”

Achieving goals both individually and as a couple bonds the relationship and keeps it safe from outside influences.

The other article, “The Science of a Happy Marriage” by Tara Parker-Pope was based on a scientific study about why some men and women cheat while others resist temptation.  This article stated that it may not be the feelings of love or loyalty that keep couples together.  Instead, scientist speculate that your level of commitment may depend on how much a partner enhances your life and broadens your horizons.

How do we increase our level of commitment?  One suggestion is to explore new places or try new things that will tap into feelings of self-expansion.    Embark on new challenges, go beyond your comfort zone, do something you have never done before.  Be supportive of your partner’s dreams even if they may not align with yours or make you uncomfortable.  Change things up, break daily habits.

So what is commitment in a marriage to me?

I guess what I have learned about commitment is it is not just saying ‘I do’ and letting the rest take care of itself.  It is not about the material objects you collect, about staying faithful or having the relationship you had when you first met.  Commitment is growing together through the good times, but more importantly through the painful times when life isn’t so great.

Commitment involves working together to solve the problems and coming out being a better person and having a better relationship.  I cannot think of a more difficult situation to strengthen commitment than we have experienced through our affair recovery.  This situation has allowed us to take something very tragic and painful and turn it into an opportunity to grow, work together and to form something that is strong and will hopefully last a lifetime.  That is commitment.

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    54 replies to "What is Commitment in a Marriage?"

    • Recovering

      I asked my husband if he loved me how could he just act like I didn’t exist and go and have a PA and then still come home to me every day. He said that he didn’t feel committed to me! I was totally shocked byt this! We were married with kids, a house, 2 cars, 2 dogs, bills.. for goodness sakes!! He had recently bought me a new car, though at the time he had been in the cheating for over a year already. He started the PA only a year after we built our house… I didn’t understand! I said to him, we just did this and this and this… how could you NOT feel committed to me! We did these things TOGETHER!! We have since gone over our own ideas of what committment mean… I think it means being married and living daily life together… he feels that it is more of that emotional connection.. the one we didn’t have because we never saw each other (he worked full-time and went to school in the evenings, then we did kids stuff and house stuff on the weekends.. never US time… NEVER). My marriage is so much different now than it was before because of knowing his meaning of the word committment. He has come to see that my definition is just as strong and meaningful as his, and I have come to see his side as well. Now we both a MUCH broader, and stronger view of committment (or so I hope to prevent future destruction of US), and now we are committed first and foremost to EACH OTHER! Everything else comes secondary. I love my husband more now than ever, and I almost divorced him! What he did is completely unforgivable, but I have that hope that our new found definition of committment, and living by that definition, will get us through. I don’t want to be one of those people who divorces in 5 years after discovery when I have worked so hard… I always believed that my husband was the one for me and that we were special – meant to be. I believe he tried to screw that up, but that it can still be true… and so does he. Committment is action, and I always was.. he wasn’t… and now I am here… hopefully I will be able to leave this site one day and never look back… hopefully…

    • ChangedForever

      Committment is also honesty…to yourselves as a couple…and to yourself. When the times get tough, shouldnt ‘committment’ be the comfort to lean into as well as the springboard into the nex phase of your relationship? I always thought this and felt this way. But…when time & opportunity come together…lack of respect to the committment allows the unthinkable to happen. I couldn’t live ‘two lives,’ but that’s just me…
      I am considering my h’s new found level of committment, as he’s retiring from his seasonal public safety job of 40 years…which was where time & opportunity came together…for years. 2 summers ago i discovered his Ea/PA with a co-worker ‘on the job.’ so i will consider his new committment, to end this ‘lifestyle,’ which promoted cheating and provided the ‘opportunity’ for those with no respect for themselves…and i will hope for the best. And i know i deserve that now.
      Thx for this post Linda.

    • livingonafence

      Linda, nice blog. I do disagree to a point. I think the things you list at the end – doing things together, discussing problems, etc. are the resut of commitment, not the definition of it. Commitment is just that – a promise to behave a certain way. That promise either means something or it doesn’t. If it does, then the things you list will happen because they are necessary for a person to have a fulfilling marriage and life. If it does not, then the person will do whatever is necessary, alone, to feel fulfilled.

      I believe it all comes down to a person’s level of integrity and character. During an affair, we can all agree that the CS has neither of these things. It is up to them to decide if they want them after an affair and behave as a person that made a commitment.

      Regarding your ‘friend’, if he wanted to prove his commitment, the OW was probably asking for marriage, or he was trying to prove to himself that he could be committed to something, since clearly he wasn’t committed to his first marriage.

      BTW, between this friend and your brother (I read about your camping trip in another blog), you sure associate with a lot of cheaters. I don’t know how you do it. I cannot stand them now. If I know someone is a cheater, I write them out of my life immediately. I don’t intentionally surround myself with selfish people. I’m really surprised you still consider this man a friend. Maybe it’s just me.

    • Gizfield

      To me, commitment, marital or otherwise, means doing what you promised to do. This applies to either “express and implied” obligations, just like they say in legal contracts. You expect your spouse not to have sex with someone else, you And they know that. You also expect them not to send emails to other women that start with “damn, I sure would like to see you. can I stop by for a quick visit?” Some folks want to pretend they dont know the email thing is”wrong “. Seriously, I believe we all know it’s wrong. If you say you dont you are either a liar or very stupid. If you get some sort of little “thrill” when a person of the opposite sex does something and you act on it, you are wrong, married or not. The chick my husband sent that to knows she should not encourage that crap from am a married man, with a 5 year old daughter. But she did, and here we sit. We all know the difference between right and wrong, I get texts and calls from my friends and family, and know the difference between the feelings they inspire opposed to someone you are interested in sexually or romantically. Ugh, I feel kind of ill just thinking back on this. I know I have done wrong things in my life, but once someone does something like this your opinion of them will NEVER Be the same. So watch for that reaction when you get an email or text notification and you wont go wrong.

    • Gizfield

      LOAF, I think you are exactly right, a lot of cheaters make a commitment because they want to”prove” to everyone that their affair was different, or it wasn’t wrong or something, kind of like a pride thing. I hope I wouldn’t want to marry a co-cheater. I dont really know many, they seemto stay under cover..a friend of mine, her grown married son, got a girl he worked with pregnant and it has devastated their family. I got invited to the baby shower but just couldn’t go. I did buy a gift from me and my husband, as well as one from my daughter out of respect for my friend.my friend has a granddaughter who is friends with my daughter. At vacation bible school, her granddaughter said “they are going to have a baby and they aren’t married, they are not even engaged” felt very sorry for my friend. This crap affects entire FAMILIES, not just the cheaters.

    • Carol

      I think the first article cited here is great. It explodes the myth that your partner is there to meet your ‘needs.’ I think that’s an idea that underlies many a CS’s self-justification. The CS thinks, ‘well, my spouse isn’t meeting my needs,’ and then heads off to get them met, supposedly, with someone else.

      Imagine being told that you exist primarily to meet your spouse’s needs, and that your spouse will feel free to lie, betray, and cheat if he/she feels his/her needs are not being met, without so much as a heads-up to you, and I think it becomes immediately clear how selfish this idea is.

      Now of course ideally your spouse helps you *grow* and become a better person. But I believe we are all adults and should be primarily responsible for meeting our OWN needs. That doesn’t mean your spouse should be harming you, or tearing you down, etc. But it does mean that your spouse does not primarily exist to serve you. My H fell into this very narcissistic way of looking at our marriage. During the EA — such a stereotypical thing to say! — he told the bitch that I was a great mom but a terrible wife because I wasn’t meeting his needs. Never mind that he’d never articulated to me what any of these needs actually WERE, or ever said that he’d be tempted to cheat if they WEREN’T met, etc.!

      The second article — I don’t know what I think about the idea that your partner will be committed to you if you’re helping him/her to grow. I think your partner ought to be committed to you once he takes his vows. My vow had no disclaimer — we didn’t vow to be faithful, “unless you fail to help me grow, in which case I’m outta here.”

      I did read the entire article, and it has some other points that rung true for me, such as the idea that committed people will develop lower opinions of members of the opposite sex who demonstrate attraction to them. I know that in the past when male friends of mine have gotten flirty with me, I’ve seen them as a bit sleazy and have lowered my opinion of them. Not so with my H. When the opera bitch flirted with him, he decided she was a ‘wonderful’ person and he ‘adored’ her. Ugh. ‘Wonderful’ people by definition do not f*** around with married people! End of story!!!!

      • Linda

        Carol, I believe Doug felt the same way, he also said I was a great mom but not a very good wife. I still need clarification on that crazy statement but have accepted it nothing more than an affair justification. Sometimes this meeting needs idea makes me uneasy. I feel it puts a great deal of stress on the person who is apparently not meeting the needs of their spouse. I feel that first we have to be mind readers to completely understand what exactly their needs are, then we also need to figure out what method they prefer to receive the optimum result and then make sure you continue doing it so they will not feel neglected.

        Before Doug’s affair I could have sited a hundred ways that my needs weren’t being met but I found other ways to combat those feelings rather than have an affair. I took up hobbies, I spent more time with my children, I exercised,I tried to articulate what I needed (maybe not in a way that Doug understood) but I least I tried to tell him what I needed from him that I couldn’t get from myself and safe outside sources.

        The article states that when we marry we believe that person is going to give us everything we need and when they don’t we feel that we deserve better and start looking for that perfect person. I have become aware of times when I feel angry at Doug for not giving me what I need. However before I become resentful I ask myself what is going on with ME that is making me feel this way, and how can I fix it. If I feel that only Doug can give me what I need I try to talk to him about it.

        I feel the if each partner would follow this plan it would put less stress on both parties. I am here to enhance Doug’s life not make sure that everything is prefect and that he is always happy.

        I also found the second article interesting when they talked about how more committed partners will find something negative when confronted with someone who is attractive. I always did that, I would think to myself boy he is very cute but……. I would usually compare a negative trait to a trait that I found positive in Doug and then the attraction would go away. It really wasn’t something I thought about I just did it unconsciously. I guess that is why I have been faithful for thirty years.

        Unfortunately when some are presented with an attractive person they start thinking about all the positive traits this person has (real or not) then they begin to compare these “traits” to their life partner. In most cases they begin to believe that their partners just don’t measure up, which is just a bunch of crap.

        • Carol

          Linda, I really like your comment that you are there to “enhance” Doug’s life, not to meet his every need. I think the idea of “enhancing” or contributing to someone’s happiness, even, is a great way to think about it. Nobody is going to meet his/her spouse’s every need — it’s impossible. Nobody can *make* another person feel happy. And I think it’s a bit immature for a spouse to expect that we would do so — we are not their mommies, after all, and they are not children.

          My H too has explained the comment about being a good mom but bad wife as an attempt at justification. It hurts because he said it in a text message to the bitch when he was talking about how he might be ready for a divorce — while at the same time he was telling me he would never leave me and never divorce me. It helped me when I saw an article by Rick Reynolds and a post on his site from another CS in which both Rick and the other CS recalled that they had each made the same comment about their wives while they were in the midst of their affairs.

          It’s really eerie how so many of our situations are very similar. I too tried to articulate — sometimes gently, sometimes with humor, sometimes brusquely or with anger — what my needs were and what I wanted to ask my H to do to help me out. This only seemed to push him farther and farther away, so I responded by filling up my time with friendships, kids, hobbies, etc. to try to take away the ache.

          Here’s hoping my H and yours both mean it when they say they understand what commitment is now. My biggest fear is that when things get tough again or when I do something ‘wrong’ in his mind, he’ll use it as justification to pursue somebody else.

          • Anita

            Carol,
            I can only speak for myself.
            We all are responsible for meeting our own needs and our
            own happiness. As a single woman now, I can tell you that
            has to come from within us, and no one can do that for us either. As a single person, my life is just as fulfilled as a marrried person. You and Linda are correct when you say
            a marriage enchances each others life. As single person
            my happiness first comes from my faith, and next is my
            children and grandchildren, family, friends. Then its all the
            other things that are a part of my life.
            Your right marriage is a committment to stay together when the highs and the lows hit, and also when someone
            else who is attractive comes along, that’s the part right there when each spouse needs to remember their committment and not become involved with that other person. Instead they need to find something else to put
            that energy into that blesses the marriage instead of destroying it.
            As a single person, I don’t have man there to make me happy and fill all my needs, I take that responsibility for myself and I am a very happy person.
            The biggest surprise for me after my divorce was learning
            that my own independence has its own perks. The biggest perk was no more love life problems, I can be myself and not worry about being hurt again, that’s freedom. Nor do I worry about if they will cheat or not.
            However that not what this post is about, its about each
            of us taking our own responbility for our own happiness,
            and when your married staying committed so an affair doesn’t happen.
            Also when a cheating spouse claims their mate didn’t
            meet their needs that’s not true, I am single and there
            is no one there to meet my needs, and I’m a very happy
            person, and I still am responsible for making right choices
            in my life. So that line doesn’t hold water, because wheather we are married or single we each are responsible for our happiness, mine starts with my faith.

          • Linda

            Carol, Thanks, I also wanted to add another revelation that I had today while I was talking to Doug about this and Doug was shaking his head in either agreement or distress. Doug had said that he didn’t want me to be his mother, but rather a confidant, a friend, a lover. I agreed however it is a two way street. If he wants me to be his confidant then he has to learn to confide in me his fears, emotions, etc. If he wants us to be friends he also needs to exhibit behaviors that would be conducive to promoting friendship, a lover he needs to provide romance and affection, etc.
            I feel in the past he may have wanted all of these things but some of his behaviors made it almost impossible for me to give them to him. I am not sure what was standing in the way but now he has been able to reciprocate those needs.

    • gracefortoday

      For me, commitment means honoring your promises. Staying true to your vows even when (perhaps especially when!) you don’t feel like it. It means you are “all in”. Regardless of whether your relationship is going through a difficult season. Regardless of whether you feel your needs are being met at any given moment. Having compassion and understanding at such times, ie: asking yourself….WHY does it seem like my spouse isn’t meeting my needs? Could it be because s/he is going through a difficult season taking care of an elderly parent? Young children? Transitions at work? Figuring out what is going on and finding ways to make it better. I can almost guarantee that if YOU feel your needs aren’t being met, your SPOUSE feels their needs aren’t being met either. Cheating is the shortcut. The selfish escape. While I agree that we ALL must continually work on our marriages, and there are many things we can do to strengthen that bond,I believe that commitment is something that is either there or it’s not. It is a decision. My husband chose to cheat. I chose to remain faithful, even when the opportunity presented itself during the time that I had suspicions about him and his colleague. I have made conscious decisions on multiple occasions to NOT put myself in a situation where temptation could develop. I do this deliberately. I am fully committed to our marriage. Good times and bad. For better or worse. We hit some difficult times in our marriage and he chose to have an affair. By God’s grace, we are working to save our marriage. You are all in my prayers, every day.

      • Linda

        gracefortoday, I also agree that commitment is a decision. I felt that for the most part I did all the right things in our marriage to strengthen our commitment but as you said it has to be a decision on both sides. I believe the cheater chooses to be selfish and follow their ego rather than act with integrity and explore all the other options they have available to them. Like verbalizing in a clear way what they need, or be proactive and plan dates, be romantic, go to a therapist, find a hobby, contact friends, etc.

        The affair was an easy way out, unfortunately it was also a quick fix that cannot be sustained for a long period of time. Somewhere down the road the unhappiness and feelings of unmet needs will surface again. They will continue to resurface until the cheater takes a long,hard look at themselves and learns to create their own happiness.

        • gracefortoday

          Linda, BINGO!! “Somewhere down the road the unhappiness and feelings of unmet needs will surface again.”
          Truer words my dear!! My husband blamed me for his depression and said many cruel things to that effect, when in fact it was his EA/PA that threw him down the rabbit hole of guilt and turmoil. If only he had shared with me how he was feeling as we walked through a very difficult season of our lives!! Instead he shared it with his bunny boiler, who encouraged him NOT to get help, even when he was telling HER about his suicidal thoughts!! She felt I was the disease and she was the cure. So yes, what seemed like an escape quickly became his prison. He couldn’t find his way out, and felt at that point that I would never take him back. Personally I would rather he have just left me, than had an affair. It is the cruelest and most selfish choice a person can possibly make. There were so many other ways he could have dealt with everything and I offered him every single one. The bigger question becomes how do I know he is committed NOW? How do I trust and believe in him again? It is very difficult, daily decision and I am not the same foolish woman I once was.

    • Gizfield

      This whole “unmet needs” business is about to work my nerves. I was working my Ass off, full time job, full responsiblity of a five year old, cooking, cleaning, etc. while he had time to play music and pursue whores. So I believe I should have been the one with unmet needs, if we want to get technical about, but then I guess I was just too damn busy. Must be why more cheating spouses are men. Just saying, lol.

      • Anita

        Gizfield,
        In the book of 2 Samuel Chapter 11. It tells us in the first
        sentence that in the springtime the kings went out to battle.
        I find this Chapter in the Bible so interesting, because David stayed back when he should have been out there with his men, instead he got involved with Bathsheba.
        David had other wives but he still chose to involve himself
        with Bathsheba. Now here’s a case to be made with his
        other wives how is it possible that he had “unmet needs”.
        Also Bathsheba was a married woman herself.
        My belief the “unmet needs”, thing is a accuse, for the
        cheating spouse not doing what they should be doing.
        Instead they use this accuse to justify their behavior.

        • gracefortoday

          Gizfield,

          I couldn’t agree more about “unmet needs”! At the time of my husbands EA/PA, I was feeling the after shocks of all the things he was. Our business was floundering, his father had died, we moved into a house we built assuming the properties we sold to justify building would make, not lose, money. Financial pressure, and the general busyness that comes with the life of a family of six including two newly adopted three year old boys! As a SAHM, I was the one completely responsible for housework, laundry, cooking, running the kids to sports practices and games, and so on. It fell to me one hundred percent. Yes, he had work stress and the weight of being the sole bread winner was on his shoulders, but seriously…..I felt the money stress too! At least at the end of the day, he could fall into bed whenever he wanted and declare his day “over”. Mine was 24/7. No breaks. So the “unmet needs” really doesn’t wash much with me either. Did I have opportunity? Of course! I just made different choices.

      • Hopeful

        In one of the books I read on EAs, the author wrote, the person who cheats is likely not investing enough in the relationship, not giving enough, as opposed to not receiving enough.

        • Anita

          Hopeful,
          I would agree with that, I know for myself when I was married I was very busy, however by me being busy I was giving to my husband and family, I didn’t have time to entertain wrong thoughts of a another man. At the end of
          the day I was tired from doing what needed to be done, I
          didn’t have time to let myself become restless and discontented. My thoughts were focused on my family and
          running the household along with working full time. I was
          a very good wife and mother. However I wouldn’t say the
          same for my exhusband, he had his mind on other women
          instead of involving himself with us as a family unit.
          Apparently he let himself become discontented and restless, through his own fault. As I have mentioned before
          he wasn’t ready for marriage nor the lifetime commitment
          to it. A part of him still wanted to seed wild oats, which is
          not compatable with a marriage. Therefore he never invested himself, this was do to us marrying at a very young
          age.

          • Anita

            Hopeful,
            I think the most important thing for the betrayed spouse is, not letting your spouses affair get to you, I know that’s easier said then done. For myself I was not going to let my exhusband’s affairs or our divorce destroy my years of hardwork and dedication to him and our children. I gave that part of my life to him and our children with love, sweat and tears. My children deeply appreciated this. I gave my
            best did my best and did what was required of me. Therefore I am at peace with my past, was I perfect? No,
            was I a good wife and mother? Yes. However by flipping
            that question on the other sice of the coin, Was my exhusband a good father, Yes he loved our children. Was
            he a good husband? “NO” and that’s why were divorced.

            • Anita

              Hopeful,
              To be fair about my exhusband, he was a good provider, but then again so was I. I also worked a full time job, along
              with caring for our children and our home. However I never
              betrayed him by involving myself in an affair. I can’t say the
              same for him. However I have forgiven him, but I won’t let
              his past adultery or our divorce steal my years of accomplishments. I own my past with a great sense of
              accomplishments with Gods help.

    • livingonafence

      The first article has a section where they refer to Michelle Obama having some kind of ‘aha’ moment. Barack was off doing his political thing and she was working and raising the girls basically alone. She was complaining to Barack a lot. Suddenly she realizes she needed support but didn’t necessarily need it from Barack. Well, that’s great for them.

      What if she had found her support in another man? What if she hadn’t vocalized her needs and instead just went out and found someone to fill the voids? I didn’t find that part of the story very inspiring honestly, because too many people get that support in the wrong places, and never tell the BS they need it in the first place.

      This entire discussion about meeting needs really irks me. In my case, I was the one needing support. Instead of giving it to me, my CS became very distant and cheated. Apparently I needed more than he could give, or wanted to give, and reading about how if I had done more to ‘grow closer’ maybe things wouldn’t have turned out this way. I was bedridden, needing complete support. I got physical support, but nothing else. What was I supposed to do?

      • Anita

        LOAF,
        I believe there are different times in our lives that we need
        support or help from others, however that doesn’t mean
        we start an affair with them. I agree this “unmet needs”
        is an accuse for the cheating spouse, if they felt that
        this other person was helping them with their “unmet needs”, there was a point where they knew that a little
        more than a friendship was developing and this is when
        they had the choice to not to go down that road, by removing themselves out of that situation.

    • Anita

      Loaf,
      Also the cheating spouse knew when wrong thoughts were
      happening, instead of getting themselves busy doing things to keep their mind occupied and telling themselves
      I am not going to do this, they allow themselves to entertain
      more wrong thoughts that caused more wrong behavior, therefore leading themselves straight into an affair. I am
      sure the feelings only get stronger when they keep entertaining wrong thoughts and then acting on them.
      Its sad that this happens, however they had full control
      over their mind and body, they chose not to exercise self
      disipline. There’s only so much a betrayed spouse can
      do, this responsibiltiy falls on the cheaters themselves.
      No one can control a cheaters thoughts or action, they
      need to do that for themselves with self control, and avoid
      temptations.

      • gracefortoday

        Anita, great stuff! I couldn’t agree more! We all need varying levels of support in different seasons of our lives. Cheating is the result of MANY wrong choices. Not just one. I told my husband that his affair started when he took his relationship with his work colleague “underground”. The first time he decided not to tell me that they had spoken, texted, emailed….that was the beginning of the end. It made him feel very uncomfortable but it is the truth. from there it was an easy step to lunch out just the two of them, again unmentioned. Many texts, many conversations. He HAD to know they were talking about things that were not appropriate. He chose to justify and block his guilt by blaming me for not giving him enough attention. Sorry, but I call bull crap on that. By the time he had an honest conversation with me about how he was feeling depression, etc. it was already too late. The EA was already a PA, and would continue for about eight more months. At least I know that I have walked a very difficult road with integrity. I could have just retaliated, the opportunity presented itself but I made a different choice. I deliberately never put myself in a position to ever let something happen. I recognized that I was in a vulnerable situation and I acted with extreme caution. Cold comfort now, I suppose.

        • Anita

          Gracefortoday,
          I like the name your using, it reminds me of the saying “one
          day at a time.”
          Your healing will also be ” one day at a time.”
          Be patient with yourself, and remember your worth and value comes from God, and not by how others treat you.
          Also try not to let this get to you, and do not allow this to
          cast a dark shadow over all the good, you have done, or
          all the good memories you have. I myself didn’t even realize I had done that to myself. I allowed my grief to over shadow all of the good things I had done and the memories. That grief is gone now and I have that inner
          peace once again.
          Gracefortoday, Prayer helped me to heal, along with
          time and forgiveness.

    • Gizfield

      Hopeful, I read the same thing in an article about the cheaters not investing enough so therefore they dont value their marriage. It said your heart will follow wherever you invest your time and money. Before the cheating he had called me at work everyday and emailed me jokes. I was very busy so I didnt even realize he had stopped til I find out he was doing those things with another woman. I believe I thought if I weren’t demanding or controlling he would be happier, guess I was wrong. So now we text each other several times a day, minimum. I also read some good info by Mort Fertel, so now if I hear anything interesting I confide in him, instead of my friends or keeping it to myself.I dont really care for emailed jokes, I can live without seeing photos of people at Walmart, lol, so I didnt bother starting that up again. Apparently his girlfriend really liked that crap, judging by how often she would send it. guess it’s one of those”special” things they had in common. Hard to compete with THAT, right?

    • Gizfield

      I can’t really buy into the “unmet needs” theory myself. Regardless of what anyone says, to me cheaters are doing what they do because they want to explore a potential sexual relationship with someone else. Just because they may not actually “do anything” they explore it in their mind. It probably gains more strength from the unsatisfied Lust than any other single thing. After the Deed, lol, is when relationships either stabilize or fail, not usually before when it is feeding on how they imagine it will be. I’ve noticed most folks on here aren’t Spring Chickens, so the sex thing would probably normalize pretty quickly after they consumate their “love”.

      • Anita

        Gritzfield,
        I had to laugh, about some of us not being Spring Chickens. Myself included, however I wouldn’t want to
        go back in time to be one either. My children are the
        Young Spring chickens now, with my grandchildren.
        However I am not the ole grey mare either. I’m very content
        with my age and who I am. I remember being young and
        unsure of myself. I believe my biggest growth as a individual occured after my divorce, not to say it wouldn’t
        have happened when I was married, but for me it occured
        for me after my divorce. I learned my value in God’s eyes
        verses the world’s eyes. It changed my life for the better.
        It helped me understand that as along as we are here
        on earth we will go through trials and tribulations, and
        the key is to forgive, so it doesn’t take root and we get
        lost in our own grief. Instead we can let it go and live
        for today instead of the past. I too can get caught up in the
        past and I need to remind myself its over and behind me.
        Take Care of yourself.

    • Carol

      I absolutely agree that the ‘unmet needs’ business is a weak excuse, and an obviously immature and selfish one at that. (Who but an extremely selfish person would imagine that others exist primarily to meet his/her ‘needs’?)

      The book that states that those who have affairs are not giving enough to their marriages is the one by Shirley Glass. In it she explodes the whole ‘unmet needs’ myth. Like LOAF and so many others on here, Anita, Linda, etc., I was working myself silly trying to give as much as I could to my children and husband in terms of quality time, a nice house and yard, income, etc., etc. According to Glass, the notion that the person who cheats isn’t having his/her needs met is just plain WRONG. The person who cheats is not the one who isn’t receiving enough, but the one who isn’t giving enough.

      Reading that really helped me, because my mother-in-law, upon finding out about the affair, immediately excused my H’s behavior by saying that I ‘hadn’t always made it easy on him’ and hadn’t met his needs. That really hurt, and a part of me wondered if it was true, even though I’ve been able to be pretty strong through most of this ordeal and have been able to tell myself that I did what I was supposed to do as far as trying to keep the marriage together, giving to my family, etc. So it was very helpful to read Glass’s research (she is one of the few people who has done extensive research on affairs) and read that that myth of ‘unmet needs’ is just that — a MYTH, and as Anita says an excuse (a weak one) that cheaters try to use to make what they’re doing seem less reprehensible.

      • Anita

        Carol,
        I can only speak for myself and my own experience.
        After my divorce I had time to heal and forgive. Through
        my healing process I had many questions without answers. However as time when on some of those questions didn’t seem to matter any longer, I’m sure for some of those questions I found my own answers which
        allowed me to make peace with it.
        However there are things like the “unmet needs” that
        got me all fired up, which tells me I also need to make
        peace with that also. However none of this has to do with
        my exhusband, he never accused me of not meeting his
        needs, in fact it was him who said, we married to young
        and he didn’t know what he wanted.
        So I am thinking that I’m letting myself become to wrapped
        up in this site, because my past is settled.
        Carol, my best to you, and I need to let this site go. My opinions are not that important, and at some point and time everyone else will have theirs along with their own
        experience. Take Care!

        • Anita

          Carol,
          I also just realized something just after hitting the reply button, that I blamed so many things on my exhusband and
          our divorce. I allowed myself to put or feel a dark shadow over all the good things I had done in my past, and now I reaize it was me who put that shadow there. I can now see that my exhusband never accused me of not being a
          good wife, or mother. All he wanted was a life with someone else, it didn’t mean I wasn’t a good wife or mother, it meant he wanted to be with someone else.
          The I love you, but I’m not in love with you, in our case this
          was true, I believe at one point in time we loved each other
          however, we changed and grew apart. However it was me
          who allowed myself to cast that dark shadow over everything. However now, I realize I made it worse for myself then it actually was.
          Again take care of yourself.

          • Anita

            I know now I can make total peace with this, Yes betrayel happened, but it wasn’t done to hurt me, even though at that time it did. My exhusband’s betrayel was because he wanted to be with (at that time) his affair partner. He didn’t do it to hurt me, but rather to start a new life for himself,
            my pain came from that fact it was someone else he wanted instead of me. Yes our committment to stay together was broken, and we divorced, but now I realize he
            never meant to hurt me. It was me who allowed myself to
            hurt worse by discrediting myself. I feel like a whole new
            level of healing as taken place. I guess I’m slow, however
            little by little I’m getting there, and I know thats what counts.

    • Rachel

      My husband was served divorce papers while I was on vacation with my boys. A vacation that was much needed for us all.
      He is now hounding me to sign papers for a home equity loan on our home. I knew it all smelled fishy and I didn’t feel comfortable, so I called my lawyer and he said , do not sign those papers. My H is furious, we have no money, we will lose the house to bankruptsy and you don’t care. I walked a way closed my door and kept quiet.
      My parents know everything and said we don’t know how you stayed in the marriage this long. We have seen how he verbally abuses you for years.
      I found an article that discribes my H to a “T”. I found it on another site Infidelety support, breaking free. The article is about a narcissist. This artilce is written about my H. I could never, ever please him. But this is who he is completely.
      I have found a new strength not sure where it came from, but I like it and I can tell he doesn’t. My kids have noticed and they like it too. Better then the women that would sit in a ball and cry, struggle to make a meal, and lost so much weight and was so frail and fragile.
      It took a while but I have finally found the new/old me and I like her.

    • Gizfield

      Rachel, I had a similar experience I almost commented on before you went on vacation but didnt. A couple of weeks ago, one of my college friends was in town visiting another of our college friends. I had lost contact with all of my college friends and always wondered What Happened? The evening got late and we all had a couple of beers so the conversation was getting “real”as they say. It had been 25 or 30 years ago, and I wasn’t sure if they would remember my first husband, who died in 1999 , and who I started dating in college. Turns out he made quite the impression, and not a good one. I asked if they remembered him, my guy friend said “he was always so rude!” My girl friend said “he was always so mean and treated you so bad ” I I told them he had died, basically from alcoholism, and they said they weren’t trying to hurt my feelings. I told them, they weren’t and that I would really like to hear the truth. The girl said you 2 were always fighting, and he acted like he didnt want you to be around your friends. Also, she said “I can’t believe you stayed with him all that time (20 years, total). The way he treated you, I thought you would have left after a year or two.” Wow, looking back this guy was incredibly TOXIC, as dr. phil says, and I didnt even notice cause I “loved” him. What a revelation! Now I know where all my friends went. What on earth did I “love ” about this guy? I dont know, he was a jerk and I devoted my life to him. That is just plain sad. Other people see them for what you dont, and can’t, because of “love .” So glad you are seeing the light. Unfortunately, some marriages should not be saved. I know, I had one. Best wishes to you.

    • Carol

      Rachel, I am so glad you’re getting good legal advice from your lawyer and I’m also glad that you’re finding your strength and doing something nice for you and your boys. Hang in there!

        • Anita

          Rachel,
          It takes time to heal, and what your feeling right now is rejection, and it hurts. Someday the pain of that will go
          away, but it takes time. The renewed strenght you feel right
          now is more then likely anger. However there will be days
          you will go from pain to anger from anger to pain, and that is part of one of the stages in grieving, but it also a part of
          healing.

        • Natalia

          Rachel, Thank you for the link. Many of the characteristics cited described the way my husband used to behave. Fortunately, 2 years after Dday I can say he is a changed man. It’s been a long road and we still have things to work out but overall it been positive. I’ll be sharing the link with him shortly . Let’s see what he has to say.

          • Anita

            Natalia,
            Being your husband has changed for the better, wouldn’t it
            be counterproductive to show this site to him.
            Narcissist, is a selfish person. Since your wanting to save your marriage, don’t you think showing that site to him will
            only cause him to become defensive, when what wanting
            from him is to be loving towards you.
            Being 2 years have past, and he has changed for the better, wouldn’t it be nicer of you to show you him your
            appreciation of his change, verses that site.
            I maybe wrong however if your wanting love, you will be
            met with him feeling like all his efforts didn’t matter, and
            your still trying to rub his nose in this.
            Its your choice, however you need to ask yourself why its so
            important to you for him to see that site.
            Your time would be better spent by you doing good things
            for yourself that make you feel better, and by doing that
            you will start to feel better.

            • Natalia

              Anita: Thank you for your input. I can see your concern and I appreciate it. This is why I subscribed to this blog, to hear other people’s opinion. I know it seems strange that after 2 years I would want to show him this. But our relationship, as wonderful as it is now, was pretty bad before. Actually it had been deteriorating 5 years before Dday (we’ll be married 29 years in Nov.) and during that time he was oblivious to what he was doing to me. I don’t consider him 100% narcissistic but he did share many of those characteristics. 2 years later we still discuss his affairs, we still read books on the subject, and we still read the posts from this blog. His EAs were a big deal and he still has a lot of learning to do. He acknowledges this and he welcomes anything he can read to learn and change so as to never fall into an EA ever again (he said so last night when I mentioned the article and asked me to print it so he could read). He will be reading it tonight and because we’ve been together for 32 years and married almost 29 years I know he will take it in as a learning lesson and not in a negative way. I would be extremely surprised if he took it as if I were rubbing his nose in it. He knows that damage he did, he knows our relationship will never be the same, he knows he almost destroyed our marriage, my life, his life and our kids’ lives. I guess in a way I always knew I married the right one even though he got involved in something so stupid and damaging. He’s not only a good man who recognizes when he’s made a mistake but also well educated and therefore open to other people’s opinions.

          • Natalia

            Rachel, thank you again for the link. My husband read it along with another article on stonewalling. Afterwards he sat down with me and sincerely apologized for being so abusive to me. He also said there was no excuse for his selfish behavior and has promised never to behalf that way again. Between the abusive behavior and the EAs he considers the first one worse than the second one. I told him I could have lived with the narcissistic behavior (I did it for so long) but the EAs were the last straw. Today was a sad day for him but a triumphant for me.

    • Dave

      This is probably the hardest concept that I have accepting. My brain keeps telling me that my love for her wasn’t good enough or that she didn’t love me enough – if she loved me at all. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have gotten involved in a EA/PA. She keeps saying that she loved me then, but that doesn’t match the facts in my mind. She was with him emotionally and physically, devoting her time and attention to him, and she was deeply in love with him. It seems easier and sometimes less disturbing to believe that she didn’t love me.

      • Hopeful

        I struggled with this, too. How could you do this or treat me this way if you loved me?

        I think that we have radically different situations. Mine, only an EA and a relatively brief one that didn’t (as far as I know) involve expressing or necessarily feeling deep, profound love.

        But it involved infatuation, admiration, smoke up the ass, titilation, excitement, unspoken sexual fantasy, deep attraction, and so on.

        Anyway, this was hard for me, too. Time has helped me just not care to wonder anymore but I’ll never really get it.

      • gracefortoday

        Dave, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. It is a concept i am deeply struggling with right now. My husband’s affair partner is not a nice person at all. While my brain knows that she doesn’t measure up to me in ANY way, my heart is crying out WHY???? She is a devious, manipulative whore and thankfully my husband got to see her true colors at the end. I know he is sick that he ever got mixed up with her, but I am torn to shreds. I told him more than once, that if I can’t compete with HER, then I can’t compete with anybody! My self esteem is gone and I doubt my worth daily. Again logically I can count my good points but my heart just hurts too much right now, five months out from d day. My husband had an EA/PA too, so i know the struggle you feel. We have been together thirty years, four kids….how could he throw that away for someone who is basically a stranger? Even he acknowledges now that he didn’t really know her. I question EVERYTHING now! What was real? What wasn’t? Why wasn’t I worth more to him than that slut? Ugh. Wishing and praying peace for us both!

    • Gizfield

      Dave, I had the same feelings you are having now and this is what worked for me to get rid of them. Basic story, june 2009 husband tells me wants divorce, is in love with some one else. Next day he denies it, says he dated someone once. We decide to stay married. June 2010 I find the chick I originally suspected’s number on his phone. I observe him about 2 months, monitor calls and read old and new emails. Confront him august 2010, says he will quit contact but is caught several times texting or calling with her. October 2011 caught texting her, I lost it and confronted her. Very nasty little bitch, called me all kinds of names, threatened me (?), etc. husband and I had gigantic fight, he finally admitted he “was madly in love with her, had a huge”thing” for her, and that he would have married her if she “would have had him.” All this was years before we met, and apparently when he decided I wasn’t up to snuff, so to speak, she was his default setting. Oh well. This witch is a friend of his old group, and I had met her twice before all this happened, and seriously was not impressed. After our phone/text fight, all I could think was “I have been jealous of this nasty skank all this time and it needs to STOP. I decided to do a Jealousy Intervention. I made a big chart of everything that might be causing the jealousy. She is 10 years younger, no doubt skinnier or I know he wouldn’t be messing with her, and probably prettier, who knows ? But guess what, I work at a big company in a fairly big city and am surrounded by tons of younger, thinner, prettier, smarter, all the “ers” chicks all day long. If it weren’t for my husband I wouldn’t even bother giving this hag a secondglance. I mean I compared everything and I came out very favorably. So I tore that list up, figuritively , and decided to concentrate on what the issue REALLY was. There it was, the one thing no one wants to admit or think of. He/she loves the other person, and not me, or possibly MORE than me. I decided to take this notion out of my head and play with it a while. What is it’s true? What if I’m being played? What is the worst possible outcome? What the hell is “love” anyway? Then my break through came. I thought of the long list of losers that I have thought I was “in love” with. Let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. cheaters, liars, thieves, drunks, druggies, you name it. you are not a better person or a worse person because someone loves you or does not love you and neither is anyone else. That entire concept is what the adulterers use to make themselves better then you, but guess what, they are the pathetic ones, no two ways about it. when you can believe that another person’s feeling of love for you doesn’t affect your self worth either way, then you can move on with or without them.

    • Gizfield

      June apparently really is not my month because I caught her texting and calling him again in June 2012. I threw him out, he was gone for three days. He started begging to come home, etc. I may have been too lenient, I dont know, but there has been a definite power shift in my favor. Before it was like I was afraid he would leave, even if it was subconsciously, now he knows I wil throw his ass out if necessary. I dont bother with his phone or email anymore, and quite truthfully feel the most punishing thing I could do would be to take myself out of the picture so they could be together. I’ve always thought that but only recent ly BELIEVED it.

    • Gizfield

      One thing I just thought of, is when you think of “unmet needs” you assume that they are good things the spouse is “needing” but I think a lot of them are bad things. When my husband was in his affair, the biggest change I noticed in him was his excessive NEGATIVITY. He had gotten so rude, mean, and just generally negative about everything that I didnt think I could stay around him much longer. I thought I had made a mistake, and couldn’t figure out if he had been that way all along and I just didnt notice our if he had changed. I mostly just tried to avoid him. The thing I noticed about his girlfriend was her negativity. She doesn’t seem to have friends, doesn’t like other people, hates “summer and birthdays.” He said mostly what she talks about is to”bitch about her kid and work.” I called her kid a”brat” and he said How did you know that? That is what she said. All her jokes are about the “less fortunate,” like making fun of people at Walmart. I think what she had that I didnt was that she enjoyed and encouraged his bad side and I did not. I could not stand it.

      • Recovering

        My husband was also really mean when he was in the midst of his cheating! He had begun working out, and I remember thinking all of the time how he didn’t love me, but was just in love with himself! And I would tell him all of the time how mean he was!! He thought I was just being a jerk! Funny how now that he is out of the affair and we are working on us that none of that stuff even crosses my mind about him anymore! It was all because of the cheating! I don’t know if he was trying to distance himself from me because she was pressuring him, or if the guilt was getting to him (he was the worst when I was trying to make things better – not knowing about the cheating). He is just different! I tell him regularly that I didn’t like him during his cheating… he was mean and intolerant and just awful to live with! I had thought of leaving him pretty regularly, and I didn’t even know he was cheating! Now I am glad I didn’t or I would have never known IT WASN’T ME, but HIM who was a mess!

    • Gizfield

      Recovering, how ironic, cause my husband got Super Vain as well. Doing crap to his teeth, his hair, working out. Bought some sort of Men’s Health mag, even. Kind of like Glamour for men, lol. Disconnected thehome phone so we both just had cells. Bought a new ride, got a tatt to cover a scar, quit wearing his wedding band.taking showers all the frigging time! None of it mattered cause he was so mean and vile I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him. He also went to some sort of hormone doc about this time. I remember him telling me “how good” he felt. I actually thought “I bet he has a girlfriend.” I also remember thinking “if she can stand to be around him, more power to her.” I was confused, I thought I had really made a judgement erro r although he’dbeen really sweet when we were dating.

      I read somewhere that when they are thinking of cheating they start doing things to push you away, so they wont feel bad and can justify it to them self, like If she weren’t a bitch, or fat, or lazy, or whatever I wouldn’t have to cheat.

      • DJ

        Oh, that’s funny – my husband also became Mr. Vanity during his affair. He has always been handsome and fit, but he went nuts with trying to look young and buff. He joined a gym, he did P90X, he colored his hair, he went to the dentist regularly for cosmetic work, he started using face creams, etc. etc. I thought he was just worried about getting old.

        Now that’s it’s just the two of us again, he has stopped doing many of those things. I could think of it as him not caring what he looks like for me, but in our new positive attitudes, I am going to say that he knows I’ll always love him, even if he is getting older. I do still find him incredibly attractive.

        He also pushed me away during his affair with cruel and mean behavior. So typical – nothing like the special and unique relationship they thought they had.

        • Gizfield

          DJ, my husband has backed off the appearance thing quite a bit and I am glad. Hes always been a lot more superficial and image oriented than me to begin with. As I have gotten older I’m just really not that much into the way people look. Most guys aren’t even really attractive or unattractive to me, they mostly seem about average. I am glad he is well groomed but an obsession with your own looks is creepy in a person to me. So even if ther relationship was “special or unique” you’re still in it with a creepy, superficial person, ugh. And of course it wasn’t special, lol.

    • Gizfield

      Recovering, as I said my husband had gotten REALLY mean, and not just to me either. Making nasty comments about everyone!! I can only imagine what he said about me to Tramp, lol. I think they were probably feeding off each others negativity. I do kind of have a theory about sure of what was going on now though.

      I was talking to a friend at work one day, and she said her mother, who is about my husbands age was having bad problems with depression and NEGATIVITY. I found out that she had been a really happy, positive person until she had Cardiac Bypass Surgery, and that she had a complete personality change. My husband had the exact same surgery at almost the same age, his early 40s, when our daughter was about 2 years old. Not long after that is when his “affair” started. I did some research and those mental side affects are fairly common in that situation. That is pretty bizarre. He managed to shift the blame for his health onto me for causing him so much “stress”. Oh well. He is mostly back to his old self now, which is a good thing cause if he was his “affair self” again he would have to go. I mean he was hideous to be around most of the time, and I just steered clear, lol.

    • Gizfield

      I think the thing that has surprised me most about myself is how hard it is to be commited to my husband after he broke his commitment to me. There is a part of me now that always looks toward the door at the slightest provecation. I wasn’t like that before. I got married with the intention of staying marriedbut most days now the thought crosses my mind “this guy hurt me, I didnt deserve it and I dont have to put up with it” I told him one day “some days it is all I csn do to even look st you. when you did this, I put our wedding picture into my desk drawer at work and it stayed in there a VERY long time. Months, actually” maybe this will pass one day. I dont know.

    • marie-anne

      I’ve been avidly reading Linda and Doug’s posts and readers’ comments for more than a year now as I learn with fascinated horror about all the changes that time wroughts in even the most fairy-tale relationships.

      After having pondered over the heartbreaking stories I’ve seen here, I feel that there is one vital point that has not been touched upon as yet when it comes to understanding infidelity, which in the majority of cases described here, is because of the husband/male partner.

      If only one could trace the life story of the man concerned right back to his early impressionable years (age 1 to 20), and relentlessly strip away all the protective layers that this person has added on over a lifetime to shield himself from further hurt, one might, only then, come face to face with the true personality of the CS. At this point, and only when one is reasonably sure who he really is, would it be easier to make an emotionally intelligent decision to stay or leave. Compassion would also play a key role in forgiveness of the deed or at least in understanding why it happened, and would also clarify with reasonable certainty, whether one is dealing with a player or a good man who lost his way in today’s sneaky world..

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