Sometimes people walk into a situation with no ill intent whatsoever. Then, something happens to change that.

By Sarah P. 

Recently, someone in my circle of acquaintances dropped a bomb. Her husband found out she was having an affair with one of her ex-boyfriends from her college days. If this story seems familiar to you, it’s because there is an upward trend of married women having affairs.  There is also an ever-growing trend of people connecting with past lovers online.

When “Jane” met “Ryan” in college, Jane was immediately smitten. Ryan came from a wealthy home, had enough money to travel the world, and treated Jane to lovely dinners on Friday nights.

Jane reported that Ryan made her feel like Cinderella. Ryan showed Jane a life most college students never experience. Jane dreamt of a life with Ryan and the two had talked about becoming engaged one day.

Then, one day, Ryan abruptly broke up with Jane. Ryan gave no reason for the break-up and moved to an apartment far from the college campus. Ryan did not want to connect with Jane in any way or explain why he broke up with her. 

Jane spent the last half of her junior year of college crying between classes. For Jane, life had lost all of its color and joy.

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If you’re the unfaithful, get it, read it and carefully consider the advice. If you’re the betrayed, give it to your unfaithful spouse.

In fact, Jane waited quite a while to date because no one could replace Ryan.

Jane graduated, entered the workforce, and eventually dated various people. Time passed and thoughts of Ryan faded into the background until she no longer thought of Ryan at all. 

One day, Jane met “John” at a networking event for professionals in her field. Jane spotted John immediately because she said that she found him to be the most handsome man in the room. John also noticed Jane and they struck up a conversation.

Soon, Jane and John were a couple, on a whirlwind romance, and planning a wedding. They were stable financially, had thriving careers, and Jane could not wait to marry John and have children.

Jane and John had a beautiful wedding and had their first child soon after they were married. Then, they had two more children. They were a very happy couple and appeared to have a rock-solid marriage.

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Their children grew quickly, as all children do, and were soon out of the house pursuing their own careers. John and Jane now had a lot of time on their hands. They spent much of that time together traveling and participating in hobbies.

I distinctly remember the day that I met Jane for coffee and she was working on her laptop. She was so engrossed in her laptop that she did not see me walk in.

I sat down and noticed she had a chat window open. When she saw me, she slammed her laptop shut. I ignored the awkwardness, and Jane insisted she was talking to someone on a very high-pressure work project. I believed her; for this is work in the corporate world. It never ends.

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Then One Day Jane Left Her Laptop Open At Home

John was at home and someone kept pinging Jane’s laptop. John went over to close it and saw Ryan’s name asking Jane where she was. John kept reading until he came to the words “I was so stupid 30 years ago.”

Disaster soon followed as Jane walked into the room and saw her husband reading her conversation with Ryan.

For, John knew who Ryan was.

Long ago, Jane had mentioned the heartbreak Ryan had caused. Long ago, Jane made it clear to John that she never wanted her heart broken like that again.

John used this information to make an extra effort to make Jane feel secure. John kept his promise and had been a good husband for their 25-year marriage.

Did This Happen Because Jane and John Had a Bad Marriage?

The short answer is NO.

Jane and John had a decent marriage. Jane had also felt John had been a good husband and loved John very much. They had minor disagreements as couples do, but they more or less had a strong marriage.

Jane did not go looking for an affair, Jane did not set out with the intention of having an affair, and during the affair, she never thought of leaving John for Ryan. Jane and John still shared physical affection during Jane’s affair.

All About Work Affairs: If You Feel a Cringe When Your Spouse’s Colleague is Around, Take Note

Then How?

One day, Ryan connected to Jane on a social media platform. It turned out they lived in the same large city.

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Jane asked Ryan out for coffee because she wanted to know why he broke up with her years prior. She wanted an answer hoping to gain closure.

When Jane locked eyes with Ryan, she said there was an immediate spark. She described it as “the spark that ran away with itself.”

Jane could not believe how comfortable she felt seeing Ryan so many years later. When they had been together years prior, their sex life was very active. Jane reported it was easy to fall back into that dynamic and that the sex was just as passionate as it had been years prior. They had known each other’s likes and dislikes. Jane said it all came easily and naturally.

Did Jane and John Divorce?

No, they did not. Jane cut off the affair immediately. John and Jane ended up seeing an excellent therapist. Jane wanted to work on her marriage and she helped John along in his recovery.

Jane was incredibly grateful that John was willing to rebuild the marriage.

Jane also realized that it’s not a good idea to go down old roads looking for “closure” since it can lead to disaster.

One of the reasons John got through the recovery phase because Ryan had been someone Jane had cared for. Jane and Ryan had a sexual relationship years prior, when they were a couple, so Ryan was someone Jane already knew.

Ryan was not a coworker, not someone from a bar, and not someone Jane compared John to.  Jane had never said Ryan would have made a better husband than John. It was Ryan’s regret that he had broken up with Jane 30 years prior. It was not Jane’s regret.

The affair between Ryan and Jane also did not last more than several months and they did not meet in person often.

Jane reported she was relieved that John found out about the affair.

Featured Download: “The Top 10 Reasons to Leave Your Affair Partner Now”

If you’re the unfaithful, get it, read it and carefully consider the advice. If you’re the betrayed, give it to your unfaithful spouse.

See also  The Path Towards Infidelity - Part 2

In Summary

I have not encountered a couple this level-headed very often. This type of couple is very rare indeed.

Some things that stood out to me about John and Jane is that they already had a strong and loving marriage.

Both of them came from homes where they were cared for by kind parents who remained married.

John has also demonstrated that he is a profoundly forgiving person. Still, Jane did all the right things by cutting off the affair immediately and focusing on doing all she could to be a better wife to John. Then, Jane actually kept her promises.

Jane also saw an individual counselor to work on herself.

A caveat: I am providing you with the Reader’s Digest version of what happened in John and Jane’s marriage. I am also providing you with high-level details so they may remain anonymous.

But, here is the bottom line. Sometimes people walk into a situation with no ill intent whatsoever. Then, something happens to change that. I think Jane’s observation on the “spark that ran away with itself” is really what it came down to in this case.

Jane deeply regrets what she did and has days where she cannot look herself in the mirror for putting her marriage on the line. Her regret is as deep as her love is for John.

Unfortunately, relationships can sometimes be paradoxes. John and Jane’s relationship is closer than ever.

In the case of John and Jane’s relationship and the paradoxical aspects, a quote comes to mind: “One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.” ~ Paulo Coelho

The mystery remains as to why John and Jane were (allegedly) able to get through Jane’s affair so easily. But, they did get through it.

I believe that at the heart of it, Jane wasn’t as invested in Ryan as she was in trying to get closure. I think Jane likely realized that perhaps Ryan was an unreliable person and people like Ryan cannot give another closure.

I hope that you are blessed with an equally cooperative partner who wants to do the work in saving your marriage.

    15 replies to "When a Woman “Loves Her Spouse” and Still Has an Affair"

    • Shifting Impressions

      Hi Sarah
      I’m having trouble swallowing part of this account. I doubt anyone gets through an affair EASILY. You don’t mention how long this allegedly easy recovery took.

      Something feels off

      • Sarah P.

        I agree. I actually told the same thing to Doug. Part of the issue is that I cannot add details. This person wanted to tell me that she was happy to relay that a “wife who loves her husband can still have an affair.” I thought that was an interesting thing because she actually believes that her love for her husband never wavered.

        But, I had to keep it anonymous so having to write around all the details was tough.

        I recall an article one time where a woman wrote about something to this effect. I should have added her story to my article.

        I will look for some articles online that are similar and post them here.

        I suppose if there is any lesson in this affair recovery story, it’s perhaps that people can be in very deep denial about the meaning of “love” and that we might all have different definitions of love. What “love” means to her is likely not what it means to others.

        Good to hear from you, Shifting 🙏 Hope all is well. 🎉

        • Shifting Impressions

          I agree with the idea that people can be in denial about the meaning of love. But how we treat someone speaks louder than any words of love.

          All is well….thanks for asking. I hope things are good with you and your family.

          • Sarah P.

            I always love your wisdom 🙏 Hope your family is well too 🤗

    • Sarah P.

      In general, I am no fan of Esther Perel. But, she wrote an article for The Atlantic. It’s the first paragraph which is important, about a married woman named, Priya, who is happily married and having an affair. In fact, this individual, Priya, even admits she would never be with her affair partner in real life. I don’t understand how someone can possibly be in love with their spouse and still have an affair. But, it’s s phenomenon. Here is the article:

    • Sarah P.

      Additionally, another psychologist recommended this book. I have NOT read it, but it has good reviews.

      If there are any men reading who have been betrayed, I would love your input. 🙏

      • Barclay

        Hi Sarah

        I have been reading the blog for the past few months and thought I would jump in on this one as you asked for men that have been betrayed.

        I’m a man and my wife, who I have been with for 20 years had a 2 month affair last year. She claims she always loved me and never thought about leaving me for her AP. She said that even though she had the affair and did the worst thing possible, she didn’t and doesn’t see her life without me.

        I struggle with this. I have thoughts about, how can she say she loved me and have an affair. What makes things worse is, now we are one year past DDAY, she is saying that the affair and her AP meant nothing to her and it was all a complete waste of time and wished it never have happened. It’s like she has hurt me, my children our family and for what? It makes me mad. Not that I would want her to have upped and left, but the whole thing was a waste of time and the real people that have suffered is innocent people like myself and my children. Her AP has lost nothing and my wife still has her family, her home etc but she has lost the one thing that meant something to her in her AP.

        I don’t believe her by the way. I think she does have feelings and did have feelings for him and the affair meant more than she is letting on. Because the first three months after Dday, she told me that she was confused, she had feelings for him and that she even thought she was falling out of love with me. We talk about why she said that now and she states she was stupid, and doesn’t know. But she stands by the fact that she was never leaving me and her love for me didn’t change throughout the affair.

        So in her eyes and our affair experience from what she is saying, you can love someone and still have an affair.

        I think to be honest, its complete bull.

    • wendy

      this mirrors my situation in reverse however my husband is still wanting to resolve his love with a high school girlfriend and not giving her up. It’s over a year and I am prepping for the next phase of separation.

      • Sarah P.

        How are you doing? 💛

    • HistoryErased

      Thank you for sharing this story because, perhaps, the context is very similar to mine. I so wished that this was my story, also, but unfortunately it was not.
      I never realized what a real darkness it is, the bottomless depth of the all-consuming hurt and agony (emotional, mental, psychological, and physical), that an affair can cause, until the day—16 months ago—when I discovered my wife’s 17-year continuous affair during our 20-year marriage with her sweetheart from youth church. Yes, I know, you can call me dumb that I totally missed it and didn’t catch it earlier. I wish I did so that it could be just 3 months…Here is my story…
      We met in the Spring of 2001 and fell in love, and a year later we got married. She was everything I ever wished for and desired. I loved her with all of my heart, my soul, and my mind. I wrote songs and poems for her. I trusted her totally and completely. She was my life, the air I breath, my desired love. We raised 3 kids together. I never, in a million years, would have ever thought that she was capable of hurting me so much. Every Sunday we went as a family to church, never missing. She prayed with our children before bed, and always told me that she loved me and could never even imagine herself with another man. But, it was all lies, lies, and more lies.
      Her affair was an amalgamation of all affair types: emotional (it started this way as in your article), romantic, physical, love, etc. As it turned out, she always loved him and not me—well, perhaps, just loved me in the very beginning for just 2-3 years. But once the initial love/infatuation wore off, she clung back to her dream love from the past, who back then broke it off with her without explaining.
      She is a very introverted person, modest, and very unemotional—able to keep everything deep inside and compartmentalize things and feelings. This is exactly what allowed her to live two utterly separate lives for such a long time, diligently erasing all affair evidence daily. With me she was always cordial, kind, respectful, and even “loving”. She was a good mom and a good wife (well, except for the affair and the complete life/love deceit!).
      She was only “with me” when we were together, that is, when I was not at work. This is when she masterfully put on a mask and pretended to be a good, loving, and faithful wife. Everyone envied us as a couple: beautiful, in-love, etc. But, the reality, obviously, was very different. And I, I didn’t know! Never, not even once, during our marriage did I even think to check, spy, or verify anything. I wholeheartedly trusted her with everything… everything.
      I am a loving husband/father, physically fit, faithful, and a very successful executive—thanks to God for his blessings, we are probably in the top 2% of the population. We lack nothing. I was raised to be faithful and take care of my family—these are some of my core values. Her lover, at age 46, is still living with his parents and could never be able to replace even 1% of her accustomed-to lifestyle. His hobbies, besides one-night stands after strip clubs, are married women—no commitment required. She thought he loved her all this time (who knows… maybe he did). And, with the same trust that I trusted her, she trusted him because she loved him.
      After I discovered them 16 month ago, my world came crumbling down. All my dreams, everything I believed in, everything that I treasured in my heart vanished, disappeared… I don’t know who I am, I don’t know who I lived with all these 17 years, who I dedicated my life to, who I raised children with. I am still between the first four stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression) that are all overlapping. Yes, the initial shock, constant body-shaking, 100% sleepless nights, deep chest pain, nearly 200 blood pressure, throwing-up… these things either subsided or stopped within the first 3-6 months. But, constant mind visuals of them together, nightmares, and paralyzing thoughts have not. Moreover, which is even worse, I am constantly being haunted by all of the memories of us together—what I thought was real is now an illusion… triggers… triggers… triggers… hundreds of them every day!
      I guess I am not so “cooperative”. Even though I want to restore our marriage, the fact that her affair with the love of her past was 17 years—and not 3 months—is killing me. My wife has been very remorseful, very patient with me throughout the past year, while I called her names, burst out in anger, etc. —when I can’t keep it inside. The pain of complete loss of 17 years is eating me alive day by day. We are supposed to have a 20-yr anniversary this year in June, or is it a 2-3 year anniversary now?
      She tells me that she really loves me and that she doesn’t love him anymore. She says that she never thinks of him… not even once. But, is it even possible? After so many years of love and physical and emotional attachment to another man—and lying to me almost our entire marriage—how could I trust her words or behaviors? If she was so skilled to keep it from me and pretend for so many years, can the same skills be utilized again now? These are pervasive habits, aren’t they? She says that she is glad that her affair is over and that it was all fantasy and a previously unresolved question “why he broke it off?” But, it turned into a life affair.
      And, on top of this, she never confessed in the first place, but, instead, got caught/discovered by me completely accidentally…and, suddenly, all “fog” of the fantasy is gone? If it was 3 months, I could relate to this article. Oh, how I wished this was my story, too. Because the reason is so similar. Yet,17 years isn’t a fog, it’s a well-calculated, premeditated, planned-out lifestyle of two separate lives—one of security/luxury/family… and the other of lust/love/selfishness. She even told me that she didn’t love me at the time she was with him.
      In the past year, I have aged 5 years and developed several physical issues, including PTSD. I still love her very much, and we decided to work through this to restore our marriage. But, how could I ever trust her again? I try to be a cooperative partner, but my days are a continuous rollercoaster of deep and intense emotions.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello History Erased,
        Thank you for sharing your experience. I cannot find the words to say how sorry I am that you are going through this. It’s absolutely devastating.

        Are there any other men reading this thread who can give advice? 🙏

        • Linc

          Hey Sarah and History,

          I don’t know how you can ever trust her again. I have found out my wife had multiple affairs over the last few years and she still won’t come clean and admit to them. I don’t trust her at all. Every day that she leaves the house I wonder if she is seeing someone. Even if she came clean I don’t think I could trust her. I think if you have a spouse that comes clean and ends the affair because they want to work on the marriage and is open and honest you can work it out. But if the only reason they stopped is be they got caught then I don’t know how you can work it out. The affair would still be going on.

          History in your case she had thousands of opportunities to stop the affair over the last 17 years. Even if she never told you she could have ended it and moved on to working on your marriage. But she didn’t. She didn’t want it to end.

          I have been married 17 years and I don’t know when my wife started cheating. Was it the entire time? Was it just the 3 I know about over the last 4 years? I have no idea and it’s killing me. I am still with her for now as I am trying to figure out what to do.

          Sarah I would love to talk you about this if you would like. I know you offer sessions and I could really use the help.

          History, hang in there and know your not alone. There are people out there dealing with similar stories. No a club any of us want to be in but here we are.

          • Sarah P.

            Hello Linc,
            Indeed this is a club no one wants to join. It’s so sad that this happens. Linc, your wife won’t come clean about the number of affairs? Is she still hiding details or sweeping them under the rug?
            One thing to keep in mind, if you live in a no fault state, the longer you are married, the more alimony you will be obliged to pay IF you divorce. If she is not changing her behavior I would seek legal counsel on what you are up against financially. You do not want to find yourself in a position where you are financially devastated due to a cheater.

            I have a story about this. My husband was working with someone who was extremely shady.
            I looked her up and noticed that she was freshly divorced from a 25 year marriage and engaged to the man who was likely her affair partner. IF she remarries, her husband doesn’t owe alimony. BUT, she did get half of all assets and bought herself a million dollar home on a golf course. Then, when that was done, she married her affair partner who is former military. She got out of her first marriage with a bag of cash and then entered her second marriage with a man who has a large pension. How do I know all these details? She was a big mouth and bragged at my husband’s workplace. This woman was totally utterly disgusting beyond words. I feel HORRIBLE for her ex husband. She financially wrecked him and went on her merry way. She absolutely had no conscience. She was quite proud of herself.

            Yes, I do offer private, confidential one-on-one mentoring.

            We also offer two different recovery programs that I lead (or that Doug and I lead, depending on Doug and Linda’s schedule). One is for betrayed spouses who are still in the middle of affair recovery.

            The other is for betrayed spouses who developed PTSD, AFTER the affair has been completely over.

            So we do offer choices to get direct help whether it’s one-on-one or in small group settings.

            Linc, I hope things get better. Please get a free consult with an attorney. And think about moving to a state with alienation of affection laws. Those states don’t allow the cheater to clean out your bank account.

            Sarah 🙏

            • Linc

              Hi Sarah,

              Thanks for the reply. Yes she won’t come clean about anything. Just deny, deny, deny. First affair (that I know about) says the guy is crazy and making it up. Did admit to two lunches with him that I never knew about. Second guy she called for over a year. No proof more then the calls. But once he got a girlfriend calls stopped and she searched “how long does it take to get over someone.” Third guy was 5 months of talking 5-10 times a day and when I found out told her to end it. She got a burner phone and I caught them talking and meeting up. Said they were “just friends” and I wasn’t there for her when her father passed away and this guy was. Says nothing physical ever happened and likes to put the blame on me. Its just crazy stuff.

              I spoke to an attorney and alimony won’t be an issue because I make good money but not great. Can’t move to a new state as we have children and couldn’t uproot them.

              I will look at the mentoring. I have talked to a therapist but after a few sessions wasn’t really for me. She listened and pretty much said I need to get out which I agree with but easier said then done sometimes. Would be nice to talk to someone who has gone through this and has experience. I assume it will end with you agreeing that I need to end this but when you are weak and don’t want to hurt the kids it is tough to do. At this point I am taking my time till I figure it all out.

    • Kevin

      I hope this isn’t a stupid question, but why do some unfaithful spouses, like Jane, want to get caught by accidentally on purpose leaving their laptop open instead of just confessing?
      Jane said she was relieved that her husband found out about the affair.
      I feel I would be much more inclined to forgive my wife if she came clean on her own rather than me stumbling onto the fact.
      I would think that if the lies are the most difficult part of the infidelity to overcome than a confession would appear to show a higher degree of credibility and a willingness to be truthful from that point on.

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