The reasons why I tolerated more after the emotional affair.

why I tolerated more after the emotional affairBy Linda

The recent comments about why we tolerate certain behaviors made me think more about why I tolerated so many things following the revelation of Doug’s emotional affair.

At the time I really didn’t think that I was tolerating his behavior.   I was too emotionally distraught to think about that and I really just believed I was doing everything I could to save our marriage.

Now when I look back, I know that I compromised my self-esteem and my beliefs to do what I could to stop Doug’s emotional affair, but it wasn’t anything I really thought about or planned to do.  It just snowballed much like Doug’s affair did.

I believe I tolerated so much of his behavior because his behavior was so uncharacteristic of his true self. I was dumbfounded on how to handle this different person who was in front of me.

Why We Tolerate a Cheating Spouse

Therapist Jeff Murrah has stated that when a person is in the affair fog they are physically the same, but everything else about them has changed.  All of this is confusing to the betrayed spouse and often causes us to believe that we have totally lost our minds, which in turn causes us to put up with and do things we never would have thought about before.

I was so confused about how Doug was acting and what he was telling me that I really began to doubt everything about my life. Before the emotional affair I considered myself to be a very logical, intuitive person.  But when Doug was in the affair fog I starting believing everything he told me.

See also  A Conversation with Kate

In my gut it didn’t make sense, but I had always trusted Doug’s opinion, so his conviction swayed me to believe things I knew were over exaggerated.  When in this situation, and believing I was at fault for the affair, I tolerated much more than I should have.

I also tolerated his behavior because there was always hope that the man I knew before his emotional affair would come back to me. Therefore, I displayed patience and perseverance while waiting for that day to come.

Amazingly, some days he would appear to be his old devoted self; attentive to me and willing to work on our marriage.  But then a couple of days later he would disappear back into the fog, being critical, withdrawn and uncaring. I would be left wondering what I did wrong.

It was part of the roller-coaster ride; a ride that I would tolerate hoping that if I did something differently or changed something about myself, the old Doug would reappear again and be interested in me.

I believe that the hope that our spouses would emerge from the trance they are in during and after the emotional affair forces us to tolerate their behavior. I guess knowing that this wasn’t the person who we married, and that they had drastically changed, gives us the strength to overcome everything and that with our help we can bring them back.



    11 replies to "Why I Tolerated More After the Emotional Affair"

    • Yuki

      Linda, You dealt with a lot more than I did at the beginning. My husband’s affair was already over when I found out. You have done an outstanding job in keeping your family together and sharing your insights with us – today’s post is a great summary of what we tolerate as betrayed spouses.

      I’m not doing such a good job. I know we all take steps forward and backward in the process of recovery, but I feel like I haven’t just taken a step backward this past week – I feel like I’ve fallen completely off the track. I don’t know if I can do this anymore. No matter how hard I try, I will never be first in his heart. The OW, who was his first love, seems to have his undying love, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to overcome that or accept that.

    • Donna

      today is my 1 year mark of D Day! I am feeling gutted and I have no real evidence to feel this way. Lastnight i LOOKED AT MY HUSBANDS NEW PHONE… HE WAS IN THE SHOWER, HE HAS HAD IT FOR 1 WEEK. tHERE WAS A PICTURE OF HIM THAT HE TOOK LOOKING very HAPPY. hE WAS SITTING IN HIS uTE WHEN HE TOOK IT. Whoops, sorry for the large letters.

      Now that was the only photo on his new phone. Why would he have taken that.. my guess is to send it to the ow. He has her phone number and she apparently does not have his. Well if you send a text the number is disp;ayed. I know I could be wrong, however it just makes no sense and he sure didd not send that photo to me.. I could only wish, it would make my day.

      Linda, you said something above about tolerating…

      “I also tolerated his behavior because there was always hope that the man I knew before his emotional affair would come back to me. Therefore, I displayed patience and perseverance while waiting for that day to come.

      Amazingly, some days he would appear to be his old devoted self – attentive to me and willing to work on our marriage. But then a couple of days later he would disappear back into the fog, being critical, withdrawn and uncaring. I would be left wondering what I did wrong.”

      Far out, thi is so me right now. I get so confused as he can be so caring and other times he is quite distant and I wonder what I can do to make him interested in me. And then to find this picture lastnight just gutted me. I feel like I need to take a step back and still be present, but just not as forthcoming as I have been. I just don’t know anymore. We are doing well, getting along well. But if he is still in contact, even every so often I think I will die all over again. This has been the LONGEST year ever and to think I have many more to come. I know he is worth this, but I feel emotionally drained at times it hurts.

      Anyway, I am probably making a big deal about nothing with the picture, it just seems all too weird. Here is to getting through this day okay!

    • Diana


      I am in the same situation where my husband’s EA was with his first love, his high school sweetheart. They reconnected in September, after 30 years, on Facebook and as far as I know, the last contact was in January. Like Linda said, it has been a rollercoaster ride. Ironically, he was more loving (and he definitely wanted to have sex more) while the EA was most intense. I guess the former was out of guilt and the latter was because I was available and she wasn’t. You know, like the old Eagle’s song–if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. When I gave him the ultimatum in January (if he wanted a relationship with her so bad, then fine, go ahead, but he wasn’t going to have one with me) he became mostly cold and distant, very critical, and even more secretive and lying. It seems like we are all in agreement that part of what hurts the most is when they see how much they are hurting us and they still just don’t care! Valentine’s Day was absolutely horrible. I just wanted him to be honest with me about his feelings so I knew where we stood. And he just kept stonewalling. I completely lost it and said and did things I shouldn’t have. That definitely did not help the situation at all but only made him have more contempt for me. Everything that had built up over the previous 5 months just spilled out of me and I told him I hated him for what he had done. I don’t know if that got his attention or if he just got tired of the effort of trying to continue the EA. He has been nicer lately, but there is no emotional initmacy and little physical intimacy. My feelings for him are starting to fade. I know I am not the one he really wants. He knows she is not going to leave her husband for him, so I don’t know what kind of relationship he thinks he could really have with her. It is all based on memories and fantasies. How can I compete with that? I can’t and I’ve decided I won’t even try. And you don’t have to either. My counselor told me to find my joy somewhere else and that is what I am trying to do. I don’t trust him with my heart anymore.

      • Yuki


        I find it interesting that my husband thought his affair was so unique and special, but in actuality, he was one among many who have had the same experience. Nothing special about it – just a commonplace weakness of character.

        My husband’s affair lasted for six years. I never suspected a thing. There were signs, but I just didn’t see them until I reflected on them hindsight. One of the things that lulled me into trusting him was, like you, our sex life. There has always been a physical chemistry between us and we never stopped enjoying each other.

        Your experience and mine differ in the loving attitude your husband displayed. Mine gradually withdrew from me until the fighting and coldness was apparent to everyone around us. Even our real estate agent could tell. Until I told him about that recently, he thought his feelings were completely undetectable. We all thought he was clinically depressed. He is a man of such noted integrity that no one suspected it was an affair.

        After D-day, he was initially very remorseful and sad, and worked very hard to win me back. Now he swings back and forth. One day he’ll be cold and distant, saying I need to get over it soon or it’ll be too late. The next day he’ll be warm and loving and he’ll say over and over that he loves me and he’s so sorry to bring me so much pain. I never know what I’m going to get when he comes home from work.

        Today is a warm day – he has already called a few times from work to tell me about plans he’s making for us, and to thank me for the delicious lunch I made, and to say he’s looking forward to seeing me at home. Talk about a roller coaster ride. Add in me – falling off the deep end every time I come across a trigger, and we have one hell of a ride. I’m tired. I want to get off. Thursday will make only five months. How do people keep doing this for months and years?

        Should I even try to keep on doing this? I really understand what you mean, Diana, about not being the one he really wants. I just come with the package deal of family and friends and commitments. My therapist said the same thing. We have to find our own safety net, our own joy, our own sense of peace. If the OW is his dream, so be it. I will hurt, but I will make it. So will you, Diana. But first, we need to give it time – time to see where our husband’s hearts truly are. Right now, it’s too soon for they themselves to really know. I’m glad we can support each other through this site.

      • staystrong72

        Wow, something in common. My wife reconnected with her high school BF over FB in Decemeber. I found out and contacted him and his wife, who didn’t have a clue. Things were going ok for us after he told me that there would be no further contact. That changed after about a month when he decided to contact my wife again. My wife still in that fog makes the decision to answer the phone and here we go again. She truly believes that she knows this OG even though they haven’t been in contact for 20 years. She doesn’t see that she is in love with an idea or concept in her head placed there by words. That is not reality. I blamed myself and asked what it was that I did wrong, but it wasn’t me. I have made changes in my life to be a more positive person and that I am NOT to blame myself. I am moving forward with my life and the door is still open if my wife returns to me. However, I have made it perfectly clear that if she makes certain decisions that the door to my heart will be closed and she will be too late. She is beginning to see that life is passing her by and that I will be good and mentally healthy with or without her. She does not hold the key to my happiness. She has to realize on her own that she will not gain anything by leaving me. We are a stronger team together than apart, however I will persevere and thrive on my own. Don’t be afraid to move forward with your life. Do not allow your partner to control your feelings. Stay strong, because on the otherside you will be a better person.

    • Tiffany

      Your post describes my behavior the last several months completely. The problem with my husband’s affair is that although he hasn’t talked to her in almost a year he confessed a few days ago that he fantasizes about her constantly. To the point that he is nearly willing to leave our family to see if she would leave hers for him. How do I compete with a fantasy world that he is living in? He has built her up to be a superwoman that cannot possibly exist in real life. I have spent the last few months trying to do things differently, be more loving, be more flexible, anything I could think of to make him happy. He made me believe it was my fault that we were in this situation. I feel like such a fool, but I do feel better knowing that others reacted the same way. Now I feel full of such anger. How do I get past the anger? He should be begging me to let him stay, I should not be begging him. Why couldn’t I see this before? It makes me sick to think of him leaving our family and our children but I have to be willing to see that if he does he is not the man I have thought he was the last ten years.

      • Doug

        Tiffany, It is tough to compete with a fantasy. If you haven’t read them already, there are a few posts on this subject. Here’s one: There are more, so you can always do a search. Also we did a whole month on this subject as part of the Affair Recovery Group, so you might want to check it out. It certainly sounds like he is deep in the fog and needs a shot of reality.

        Have you let your anger out? If not, let him know you’re angry and that you are fed up, and that you aren’t going to stand for it anymore. Since your original strategy of “trying to do things differently, be more loving, be more flexible, anything I could think of to make him happy.” hasn’t worked, perhaps it’s time for some tough love.

    • Tiffany

      Thanks so much for your response. I finally last night told him that I am tired of him manipulating me when it isn’t my problem, its his. I told him that he should feel lucky that I’m willing to work through this with him, and that I’m not the one who changed in this relationship, he did. We start counseling next week. Before admitting that he was having all these fantasies about her he was unwilling to go to counseling, but now that he has finally admitted what the problem really is he wants to try. I feel like I am at the point that I don’t care if he stays or goes but because of my kids I want to try to work it out. I do love him, but why should I let myself be treated this way when I am not his first choice? It was funny because this morning he told me he actually respected me more today because of my expressing my anger and letting him know I was tired of it. Why do I have to go to this point to get him to feel differently? I sincerely don’t want him to leave, but I feel like if he is choosing a fantasy over me maybe I should give up. I really like my life and I want it back.

      • Doug

        Tiffany, Well him agreeing to therapy is certainly a good step in the right direction. Perhaps now he will come to terms with the fantasy that he is living in and things will get turned around for you and he will realize that what he sees in her isn’t reality and you are the right (and first) choice for him.

    • Kris

      I feel like I’m on this bullet train into the past. I’m a year out from our reconciliation after my H moved out and a year and 4m from D-Day and I keep thinking about all I endured during his adultery, how cruel he was to me, how critical, the lies, the arrogance. It’s consuming to the point I keep thinking off and on “why am I here?”

      I know, I’m in a dark place today, it will pass but I am still emotionally wounded that not only did my H step out on me and was in adultery but that he was so cruel to me and treated me like I was nothing to him any longer. All the “wonderful” things I had to hear him say about the AP to my face like it wasn’t killing me inside. I know shock must have permanently been etched on my face those 30 days from the time I found out to the time he moved out because that is indeed what I was in. Shock about the adultery, shock he didn’t try to save us, shock he kept the adultery going, shock he lied and said it was over because he didn’t want to lose his family but hadn’t really ended it and shock when I found out that he hadn’t ended it so he chose to leave.

      I had never cried so hard in all my life. I felt hit by a 2×4, bruised and battered. I kept asking him “how did we get here?” I was floored. It was like we were married, things were great and then the bottom fell out and it fell on top of me. He just said, “I fell for ____” and rolled over and went to sleep. He slept like a baby while I laid there wondering, “how did this happen? How did he give his heart to someone else w/out me knowing? How was I so blind and stupid that I missed this?”

      I have never felt so utterly worthless in all my life and I’m sitting here now thinking “how could he?” and “who the hell did he become and why did he allow it?”

      I’m also getting angry because he doesn’t understand my “emotional swings” he doesn’t get why I can go from being ok and fine to all of a sudden down and in the dumps so quickly. Why can’t he figure out that these things are always at the base of my thoughts. Always. I can push them down for a while or mask it or distract myself but eventually they creep up and envelop me once again.

      /rant over

      • Rachel

        I know this is 11 years later and you may not even be on this site anytime.
        Was there a happy ending? Did you eventually find closure snd move on with or without him?
        I am in the same boat. I get triggers and wonder if they will ever go away or if I should just throw in the towel. It’s been. 8 months of hell for me.
        Any advice appreciated.

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