Q&A I Love Her, Why Did I Cheat on Her?

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Question: 

My wife and I have taken EMSO and are doing the Married for life. We are 18 months out from D-day. My wife still struggles almost daily with feelings of intense insecurity about herself and how I could have done this to her. Before she even knew about the affairs she would tell me that she never felt good enough. That has increased 10 fold since discovery and I seem to just be making it worse. I know she is grieving for what was lost, but I’m not sure I feel or even understand the grief she feels. I am not good at showing my emotions. She disclosed the other day that if she chooses to leave the marriage it won't be because she does not love me or she is not willing to forgive me it will be because she can't stand the way she feels about herself in our marriage. I don't know what to do. I caused this, but I don't know how to repair the damage to her self-esteem. I tell her that I do love her and lots of positive things, but it does not seem to help. She says if she was all these things then why was I so willing to cheat. I don't have an answer for that. Do you have any suggestions?

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This is incredibly helpful!

This is incredibly helpful! My therapist says I have PTSD and I have ego strength issues, low self esteem. Being stuck in a loop rings very true with me and also the differential between head and heart. I know rationally what I should be doing and how I should feel about my self but it just doesn't seem to help me.

Thanks Rick.

Will it happen again?

"She says if she was all these things then why was I so willing to cheat. I don't have an answer for that."

This part of the question opens up a different topic from the answer Rick provided, which was a terrific answer about dealing with low-self esteem and PTSD. I tend to depression myself and it can definitely be beaten! To me, this part of the question shows that the wife still does not fully understand why her husband cheated on her. In fact, he admits that he has no answer for why he would cheat on his lovely, supportive wife. Or what steps he takes everyday to deal with his demons in a less destructive way. If you can't understand why your spouse cheated, you can never feel sure that he won't cheat on you again. Or secretly binge on pornography and be a zombie in the relationship for a few days, or meet a guy friend after work briefly, drink twice as much as the friend, then sober-up in the car for 2 hours and come home hours late smelling of alcohol. The answer here is that this guy's infidelity was not really about his wife, right? Maybe in addition to saying nice things about her, he can write down the internal issues that helped make him vulnerable to cheating and the new, better ways he deals with those issues. Make a list of all the ways that he is reliable and accountable to her every week. Seeing it on paper might be a big help for both of them. I'm just throwing out ideas here, so no one should follow my advice! I'm new to the AR program and stuck in the "why" phase, myself. I am so grateful to have found AR. Our first counselor suggested therapy on how to better understand and fulfill your spouse's needs. The "affair analyzer" here pegged our situation as primarily an addiction problem, which I believe is much closer to the truth.

I, too, have struggled with

I, too, have struggled with "why" and made the same comments as the betrayed spouse in the video. However, when question those statements my unfaithful spouse makes such as "you're so..."this or that being complimentary, it's because I want to know what happened that HE wasn't able to see it during the affair. Did I magically lose those qualities? Did he lose his mind? It's really hard to take a compliment from someone who ripped your heart out and put it through a shredder without a second thought, then says, "I don't know why I did that."

What type of affair was it?

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