Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Ever associated forgiveness with a big price tag?

forgiveness with a big price tag

Have you ever wondered what is the actual cost of forgiveness?

We’ll talk about that in a moment, but first let me tell a story. Only the names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.

Seventeen years ago, within the first two years of marriage, Sandra had multiple affairs. Doubts of whether she’d married the right man plagued her even before the wedding. A better man than Campbell she’d never find, but the spark was missing. She feared he’d be a Steady Freddie who was dull and commonplace. His impeccable character and undying love had captured her attention, but where was that romance of man and maid she’d so longed for? Those feelings never came.

About a year into the marriage Sandra’s boss invited her to lunch. From an innocent beginning blossomed a growing passion. He understood her womanly need of small attentions and seemed to get her in ways Campbell never seemed able. Justifying her affair was all too easy. She’d never felt like this before, confirming in her mind, that she’d married the wrong person and now she’d found the love of her life. Besides this wasn’t some spur of the moment impulsive whim, they’d spent their days at work talking about music, philosophy, religion, and life. Milton knew her better in a month than Campbell had in 2 years.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

For the first time in her life she felt compelled to recklessly abandon herself to another. It was like nothing she’d ever experienced, until Milton’s wife discovered their affair and filed for divorce. Milton immediately resigned his job and moved his family to another state. She was shocked; they had planned their future together and now, just like that, he was gone? He even told her he wanted nothing to do with her and to quit bugging him. The pain was unbearable, and even she was surprised at her response. Rather than grieving the loss and moving on, she numbed the pain with three more short-term affairs. What was the difference? She didn’t envision Campbell as any part of her future.

However, about a month after affair number three ended, she and Campbell conceived and life suddenly changed. She loved life as a mom and admired the way Campbell stepped up and supported the family. Over time she even grew to love her life and recognized she had indeed married well.

“Your Wife Isn’t Who You Think She Is”

Skip forward 17 years when Campbell received a call from Milton’s wife. “I told him if it happened again I would no longer keep his secrets, and I just discovered he’s doing it again,” she said. “I thought that you might want to know your wife isn’t who you think she is. Why don’t you ask her about Milton?” Milton’s wife was coping with infidelity in a flurry of anger, rage, and desire for raw vengeance.

Initially, Sandra lied. She had decided to take the secret of her infidelity to her grave, but eventually she came clean about all four affairs. She pleaded for forgiveness; after all, it was 17 years past. But for Campbell it wasn’t seventeen years ago, ground zero was just last month. Forgiving infidelity for him didn’t seem possible. Seventeen years of faithfulness did nothing to ease the pain of her betrayal. In fact, it made it worse. She had caused him to live a lie for 17 years. He no longer trusted his current reality, his past, his future, his wife or himself. How could he have been so blind? How could he just forgive and move on?

Does your mate feel entitled to forgiveness?

For the sake of our discussion let me point out that there are two elements to what we refer to as forgiveness. The first is an internal matter where we choose to forgive the wrong committed against us and no longer expect justice as a result of their offense. Even more, we wish them well. The second element of forgiveness is about reconciliation. It’s where we choose to continue in relationship with that person in spite of their offense. For the sake of this discussion I’m focused on the second element, reconciliation.

All too often we talk about the high price of NOT forgiving. That forgiveness is a gift you give yourself and how failing to forgive leaves you forever a victim. We extol forgiveness as a virtue and share examples of those saints who forgave much to show forgiveness as a possibility. (Even though the fact we even share such stories indicate those people may be the exception, not the rule.) But forgiveness isn’t natural, especially when it comes to forgiving infidelity. It flows against our basic human nature. For most, our initial response to coping with infidelity is justice, not forgiveness. We want restitution, not mercy. We want the scales of justice to be balanced.

An understanding of the high cost of forgiveness seems to go missing when an offense is committed. Far too often I see an entitlement mentality when it comes to receiving forgiveness from our mate or for some, forgiveness from God. As humans we’re supposed to forgive, right? In Christendom for example, we teach “as God forgave us so we’re to forgive.” Isn’t that the lesson we teach our children? But we forget that forgiveness comes at a price. Even the Christian tradition teaches that the price God has paid to forgive mankind’s offenses was the life of His own Son. In the same way, the price paid by the betrayed spouse, if there is to be reconciliation, is high indeed.

What was the price of forgiveness in Campbell and Sandra’s case? Campbell had been an exceptional husband and father, not perfect by any means, but he’d lived and loved well. For him, forgiveness meant violating his personal beliefs and values. He would never have chosen to be with someone who betrayed, lied, and deceived him. He believed in the sanctity of marriage, and to choose to stay with Sandra came at the price of settling for something he never wanted. The acclaimed author Tim Keller puts it this way: “Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering.”

Choosing To Stay Anyway

Forgiving infidelity would mean sacrificing his dreams of the type of marriage he’d wanted. He’d never have the opportunity to brag to his children about the fidelity of their marriage. To stay meant sacrificing a marriage that was free from doubts. How could he ever again believe a word that she said if she’d been able to deceive him for 17 years? Staying meant the sacrificing of his dignity. He personally knew two of Sandra’s affair partners, and he now imagined how they’d seen him as the fool. To stay he’d have to sacrifice his rights. Didn’t he have the right to leave and find another who would be faithful to him? Staying and coping with infidelity meant sacrificing the ability to be honest with family. He couldn’t share his struggles, for fear of more complications. To stay would cost him pride. He’d always believed people who stayed were too weak to leave. To stay would cost his self-respect. He couldn’t believe things he’d said and done in his fits of rage. It would be so much easier to be away from her and not be triggered by her presence. To forgive seemed to make a mockery of all he’d sacrificed for the sake of their marriage. Instead of being proud of what he and Sandra had built, he now felt he’d been played the fool and taken advantage of.

All Campbell ever wanted was to love unconditionally and to be loved by someone special, but now his heart was so full of pain and distrust he wasn’t sure whether he could give himself to Sandra or anyone else again. Could he walk through the pain of her betrayal and face the demons he’d encounter if he ever gave himself to her again? For him, choosing to stay would cost him dearly.

Identifying Costs

Grace isn’t cheap; it comes at a high price. Failure to appreciate the high price paid by those choosing to forgive minimizes the magnitude of their sacrifice. The currencies used by the betrayed spouse to pay off the debt incurred by their mate’s betrayal are pride, ego, and suffering.

Forgiving infidelity has an immense amount of costs involved. If were being honest, none more so than for the betrayed spouse.

Here are a few examples:

  • It costs their dignity when they choose to stay rather than leave.
  • It costs them their just due when they choose to forgo justice for the sake of the relationship.
  • It costs them their sanity because they don’t control the painful thoughts invading their mind. Their present-day reality is constantly interrupted with painful memories of the past.
  • It costs them their dreams because this road isn’t one they’d ever planned on traveling.
  • It costs them health because the pain of the offense consumes their life.

As you can imagine, I’m only beginning to scratch the surface.

As one who believes in the value of forgiving, I never want to be guilty of cheap grace, where I think it’s something to which I’m entitled. If justice is the standard, then the consequence of betrayal is the loss of relationship. Anything short of that is mercy, indeed. Failing to consider the price paid by others for my sake causes me to be careless with my behavior. Forgiveness and reconciliation are expensive gifts purchased through great suffering and sacrifice on the part of the offended. Failure to understand that reality makes me blind to the love displayed by those who choose to continue on in relationship.

If you’re in pain today, needing clarity and understanding about what you should do in your particular situation, consider our EMS Weekend. It’s a safe place to consider all of your options while finding both personal healing and clarity about your story and sacrifice. We’re never too broken to be mended, never too lost to be found. 

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Comments

What a beautifully written

What a beautifully written comment. It could be me you're speaking of. Different circumstances, but completely connect with the depth of your pain and loss. Also heavily invested in our Church, I am on staff, but have chosen to keep this private; people saw a change in me but I worked hard to mask it and now I think no one even notices. I think about divorce. The natural consequence, but I trust God, we both do, to lead us one day at a time, and as a result, we are still together. 14 months out from discovery. I love my husband, and his pain and remorse as we uncover the depth of his depravity grieves me. He hurts deeply and is full of shame and regret. The roots are deep, we have flushed out so much dirt and debris going back to childhood abuse. Where it all began. I feel strongly about his value as a human being, a flawed human being, as are we all, and I truly believe he deserves grace and mercy. I would hope for the same if the shoe were on the other foot. I am the one God chose to be this particular mans' wife, and I trust that choice......and God knows how much I hurt. And there it is; God.
The center of it all.
Esther 4:14
Peace, comfort and blessings to us all, as we press on. One precious day at a time.......

Can I ask if he left the

Can I ask if he left the workplace/the affair. I have my husband who refuses to leave his job continuing to work with her.

After I found out 12 months ago he continued playing both sides for 5/6 months. I got cancer then he seemed to reconnect. No sure what he knows what he wants or if I know what I want.

Thank you!

The article is very good and the comment was just as relevant for me. Just prior to my 35th anniversary, I discovered my husband emotionally involved with a widowed friend of ours from church. I offered him forgiveness almost immediately to restore our marriage. He never confessed, just admitted to their involvement, refused any counseling, and also continued contact with her over the next two years. He no longer wants any physical intimacy with me and just wants me to "forget about it and move on." Sorry I can't, so we live a fraudulent public life, no one knows. His reputation would be severely damaged. Only our adult children know. Three and a half years post D-day and I am still haunted daily by betrayal, secrets, lies, and deception. I no longer love or respect this man. At 66, I live for my children and grandchildren, and work on my relationship with Christ. Trusting Him alone.

Thoughtful Reply

Jeanie, your reply is most thoughtful to a very insightful article. Thank you for sharing. Your description adds real personal examples to the cost of forgiveness described in the article. Like me, I'm sure many betrayed spouses have very similar feelings. I'm a male BS 5 years out from critical events and 3 years from big DDay. Unfortunately my wife has not been as remorseful and repentant as your husband, so it feels even more costly to me. They think the forgiveness should be so easy, they even minimize it. "I said I'm sorry...what more do you want?...you'll never forgive me...just move forward!" The cost is not just real, it is surreal.

This is Exactly what I am dealing with right now

I've just finished reading your comment and I must say This is Exactly what I am dealing with right now. After I discovered my wife's affair and immediately wanted to end it but decided to forgive for pretty much the same reasons as yourself. My wife and I both play significant roles in our church community as well. I'm only roughly 5 months out from discovery and it is very discouraging to see that you are still dealing with the same emotions 4 years out from your discovery. I noticed this post is about 1 year old so I must ask, have things gotten better yet for you?

I need insight

I appreciate both of your comments to this article. My husband of 30 years had an affair over the last year. DD was November and we've been separated since December. He has come to realize his own anxiety, fear and a "fixer" mentality that he has been living with for many years, which led to his poor judgement to have an affair. He is feeling the self-destructive effects of his choices and has ended the affair. He is working through his own issues but has not committed to reconciliation yet. We talk and see each other. He says he loves me and cares deeply for me. He wants to take baby steps. So while I am the betrayed spouse, from his side of things he is working on him and not even considering us. I am lonely and struggling with pain and feeling like he is continuing to reject me. My costs seems to be rising. To forgive is difficult. While I understand how he came to this mess, forgiving him without reconciliation is hard. Any ideas to help me?

I have never read such a true

I have never read such a true effect of this type of betrayal. After forgiving once, I don't think I can forgive and reconcile again... I hope to forgive one day.

Article

Wow
You have written very well every thought I ever had about staying being the betrayed
My husband has a difficult time going this deep as he can't believe himself how deceptive a liar he has been over 30 years
I could not be this healthy without your articles of hope and educating us to what all of this means
Very very grateful for what AR does in the community

Forgiveness IS painful.

This article was delivered in perfect timing for me. I am 5 months post D Day - I discovered an eight year affair (34 years marriage). Every part of the situation is immense. Every emotion I pave through is immense - I go from believing we can make it to utter despair within seconds. Today I was thinking that I initially forgave too soon and that the worry of being alone was part of the fuel to forgive. I feel weak for this thinking. Your blog articles and videos have helped me take many steps forward and making me understand that this journey involves many more steps. Although I seem to fall often, I understand that much of what I am living through is natural. Thank you for each step you take with me.

Powerful article

I found this article so powerful and full of truth, I've read it three times today! Thank you, Rick! I was recently told by my husband that I clearly haven't forgiven him so we should stop pretending that I have. I was floored! It happened after I had asked him a question about his 8 year long affair. We had a disagreement about his reasons for the affair. I accept the reasons he states, but disagree with his leaving out "lust" as a reason. I shared this with him because of all the "lustful" correspondence I had read between them, I find his leaving this out to be minimizing. Well he didn't like that. So because of my question and this response, he has decided that I haven't forgiven him! I find him to be so incredibly tone deaf in this recovery. We are nearly 2 1/2 yrs out from DDay and he can barely lift a finger to help with my healing. He did for a while, but doesn't feel "safe" because he says I accuse him of things when we discuss it, so now he doesn't want to ask me about triggers because I might get frustrated and make him feel bad about himself. It's still all about him. He is more concerned with how I say something than he is with what I'm actually saying. If I don't say something in a completely calm and respectful manner to him then he doesn't want to engage. We have now not had any in depth conversation about anything that would be remotely uncomfortable for him for 8 weeks now. I have just shut down. I am so sick of him being a princess! I know he has a lot of shame. I'm sorry for that and I have tried to help him with it, but he doesn't really tell me how I can do that other than not talking about it. Which of course is not good for me, but as usual, it is all about him. HIs shame takes precedence over my pain. We see a marriage counselor and have done EMS on-line. I credit EMS with keeping us together thus far, but he has stopped seeing an individual counselor, which I think is a huge mistake because of his shame. He does not deal with it in a healthy way and that is why he is stuck in it, I think. So it makes us stuck because I'm so devastated by his lack of care and participation in healing my heart that I vent my frustration about it, and he uses that as a justification to pull away. It is an endless loop! I am trying to give it all to God and not think about how he is betraying me again by not do all that he can do in this recovery, but it is very hard. I'm becoming very indifferent and detached from him, but he doesn't see to care. I hope he reads this article and I hope he sees himself and me in it. I identify with every word.

I'm with you

The article was great. It's a tough ride. Twenty months, 15 days and two hours ago I found out my wife had an 8 year affair with her boss. It was over (so she says) about 15 years ago. All I do is fight the intruding , ruminating thoughts and think about something else. I'm not running away from the emotions, but trying to deal with them the best way I can. Of all the things I was proud of in my life, the thing I was most proud of was our fidelity. I adored my wife and now we are nothing more than friends with an occasional sexual encounter to try and keep the spirit of our love alive. It has completely devastated me as stated in the article. I am just now beginning to reclaim my self confidence and self esteem. I'm just taking it day by day and trying not to think of the past nor the future. Trying to find happiness again. Won't that be nice. Thank you for sharing.

Encouraged

This article gave me a little nudge to just continue on the path of not giving up despite the path it has me on today.

I am with you.

It's incredible the pain involved in trying to understand the betrayal. I no longer try to understand my wife's 8 year affair with her boss. Like, the gentleman in the article, I didn't find out about the relationship (at 8 years it wasn't an "affair") until a little less than two years ago though my wife says the relationship ended 15 years ago. It was if it was yesterday, to me. I'm just beginning to find my self esteem and confidence and I'm not ready to make any decisions about staying or going because I want to make the decision without the emotion of retribution or justice involved. I know it has changed my life and dreams in something I cherished. My love for my wife was unconditional, my trust was complete; I adored her and now we are dealing with a relationship that is based on forgiveness and it's really nothing more than a friendship whereas before I was totally absorbed in my love for her. Obviously, she wasn't. The hardest part is I've lost respect for her. How do you continue with a relationship where there is no respect? She is trying, she is remorseful, but I just don't see her the same way I did before. They say that post disclosure your relationship will never be the same. I get that. In retrospect, it wasn't that great of a marriage. She didn't know a good marriage, I didn't know what a real, good marriage looked like. I do now. I so want to let it go and put it in the past, but man it's hard. I still have revenge thoughts about her boyfriend ( I know where he works, lives, and plays) and I'm fighting the revenge thoughts daily. It takes a very strong person to forgive someone that has turned your entire life, beliefs, and integrity upside down. Maybe someday.

Ghandi

"Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. The weak can never forgive." - Ghandi
You are absolutely right. Forgiveness is the bravest thing you can do in any situation. In this one it is given only through divine grace! Only thru the grace of God was I able to forgive him. God changes my heart daily and brings me peace that I could never attain on my own. I have trusted in the Lord and not pushed for the last 10 weeks and there now seems to be a change. Slowly he is coming around again. It really is a yo-yo. I no longer pray for patience because all I get are more trials! HA! I just ask the Lord to soften our hearts towards each other. The loss of respect is real and it is one of the costs that they have incurred for themselves. I do believe he can earn it back, but it is going to take a long time. He has started to, but then he withdraws and I withdraw my respect. It's the "dance". No, our marriage will never be the same and I don't want it to be. I don't want that old marriage that wasn't working obviously for both of us. I want a renewal in Christ. A new covenant with our Lord and each other! I believe we can have that. There is still lots of work to do, but there is nothing more important than this work. I too have had revenge thoughts about her. They were mostly in the first year. I have put her out of my mind as much as possible now, because she was actually a small part of the problem. His insecurities and need for validation were the entire problem. His lack of moral character was the problem. Not her. She's as unhealthy and broken as he is, but I don't care about her anymore. It's probably easier for me because she is 2 states away and the affair was mainly an electronic one with meetings a few times/year. I don't have to fear running into her. I'm sorry that you have to fight the temptation that you could see him. I told my husband the other night that the costs for me are overwhelming some days. I too, like the man in the story thought that I would never stay with a cheater. I too thought people who did were weak. I too have to sacrifice my dignity and pride to stay. Forgiveness is the willingness to live with the consequences of someone else's sin. The least he can do is show some gratitude for the sacrifice! He agrees with that, but then he won't do anything about it. Frustrating! He seems to get it intellectually but when it comes to actions, he is paralyzed most of the time. I continue to hope and pray for renewal. I will do the same for you. God bless you!

Thank you

Thank you for this article. It explains so many things that I have not been able to put into words. We are almost 3 years out from D-day. I uncovered the last affair. During the confession phase my husband confessed to 2 other affairs. One started just after our first year of marriage, almost 20 years ago. The second he is not sure exactly when it happened, maybe 1995-1996. Both, according to him where short lived, about a month with coworkers. The last was different, longer, and the plan was to leave me for her. Recovery has been difficult. Forgiveness has been a struggle, and I was not sure exactly why until I read this. After this first affair he left. I did not know why. He gave me a list of excuses. When he came home he said it was because I did not keep the house clean enough, we did not have enough date nights, and on and on. So for 20 years I worked to keep all the conditions in tact. I had some ideas, but this email actually explains the difficulties I have been going through and emotions I have been unable to articulate.

Thank you Rick for this email and the support.

Forgiveness

Thank you once a again for these excellent articles. It offers me some strength and relief to know that someone understands exactly how I feel, never more so than the words on the price of forgiveness. It is 4 months since discovering years of deception in my 31 year marriage. I think that the pain I am living through each day has not even begun to touch the depth of my sorrow as the world as I thought I knew it collapses around me. I do not know if I am able to pay the price of forgiveness. I am thinking it is most likely too costly. My children need a sane strong mum and the situation that the bad choices made secretly and repeatedly by my husband are not in the best interests of my mental health.

Thank you I needed thus

Thank you for the article. DDay for me was less than 24 hours ago. I don't know what to feel. My husband appears angry with me for being hurt and sad. I told him I would be OK if he just told me the truth, but I'm not ok. I don't even know where to start with forgiveness or if I even can.

You can't

You can't forgive yet, so don't! You need to process and there is no complete processing until you know TRUTH! All there is to know if that's what you need. If you don't need all the details, then that's ok too. He is most likely annoyed and defensive because he doesn't want to be accountable. He may not be safe for you right now. Keep reading the articles on here. He should too! They are a lifesaver and get yourself into Harboring Hope. God bless and good luck.

Am I stupid or what?

After 37 years of marriage my husband finally came clean with all of his affairs. One was a 10 year relationship. We have a beautiful family of four children that are now grown. After nine years of separation we reconciled and live in another state. Everything was going well up till a year and a half ago when I found my husband on pornography. I was horrified and all of the feelings of our whole life came to the surface once again. I told him we've come too far to let this evil separate us again and he agreed to go to counseling and discovered his sex addiction. I always thought that he was an addict but he and his pride, denied that he had a problem.
I thought things were going well as he had covenant eyes put on his iPad and went to meetings. Now three months ago I walked in and found him on his iPhone and he figured out a way to get it to go to private mode so there was no history. God is been so good to allow me to catch him and finally deal with what his problem is truly. Every time he's been caught he has been repentant and cried and told the tear at. His tears do no good anymore. I'm done.I love the guy but I sure don't like him and I am hopeful that he will get some help.
I know we are all a bunch of sinners and called to be Christlike. But I know now we have never had a marriage and I truly don't think we ever will ...

15 Years

Now one of the betrayed, I find it amazing on so many fronts -- the first being that I (we) are living the same story and that it includes looking for help anywhere we can get it -- and in my case, I'm looking at an article on the web that is at least 5 years old as I look at this in the waning days of September 2017. I read, watch and listen to see if someone else has had a spouse who cheated for 15 years? I look to see if it was the betrayed who discovered it? Or did the betrayer confess (since if they didn't there would be an endless incessant progression still going on until one of them the betrayer and either the OM/OW died)? I want to know if there is someone haveing had my same situation (in year 28 of marriage, uncovered his wife's 15 year affair, albeit, it took 6 weeks for the spouse to first admit it, then lie in varying degrees over the course of ANOTHER year to lengthen the true duration of the affair from 1 1/2 years to presumably full 15 years), that chose to work it out AND who made it? And not only made it, but WHEN did their (the betrayed) life become theirs again? That's me.

So, I'm either 7 months (partial truth) or 1 year & 7 months from (presumable full disclosure) into this disaster. My spouse and I are doing everything pretty much that can be done to fix things. I've read every comment in this article (and far too many to illicit a count from others) and like everyone one of you/us, it resonates with the deepest and most profound sadness. I keep waiting to "get better". And while there's been steady progress, it's incremental. I fear that it will take an offsetting 15 years perhaps to just offset her 15 years of deceit -- and even then it might not be that I can wake up without it being my first thought, or go to sleep without it being my final thought of the day. I (we) live constantly short of breath, gasping for air which will one day take the tightness out of our chest. Yeah, you can drink a little more than you should or rely on anxiety/sleep pills to help, but at least to me, those are poor alternatives which only fuel delayed anger and hurt.

Collectively, we all know too well there are triggers -- God, how we love that word, don't we? More recently, I sunk to being made upset by no specific incident or trigger. Without warning, I'll find my eyes teared up, my voice unable to speak and my chest pulled tight like a snare drum. I've found myself mired in what I call a "whirlpool of malaise" which builds to crescendo of depression -- a bitter cocktail of 3 shots of betrayal, 1 ounce of "this can't be real" (aka, the brand name is "Incredulity" and a splash of "how could she ever...". The trailing ellipsis are a perfect sentence 'closer' -- because it never closes. It's up all night. And all day. 24/7 -- 365.

I read what I do because I want someone of you (us!) to have the success story that rivals the absolute worst story (we all think, OUR story is worst by any of a different measure, but for now, my wife spending 2001 through 2016 in an affair, is 'my' worst baseline story) so I can think, "If he can do it, there's hope...I can do it too". I also wonder, how many of us who are fighting to make it work as the betrayed, give pause to consider the OM/OW eventual death. Oh, be clear, I'm not suggesting our vivid imaginations thinking of seeking the ultimate vengeance -- my concern is much greater -- when he (she) dies, will my spouse mourn the loss of her 15 year lover? I'm too pragmatic not to imagine/accept that it's only natural for it to be a resounding 'yes'. We are middle aged -- her lover today is ~70 years old (yes, she chose a lover, 10 years her senior -- and yeah, I know, someone's commenting in his/her head, "Wow, that poor SOB, she cheated on him for 15 years AND the guy was 10 years older (?) than her H?") -- it's (statistically) likely he dies in the next 1--15 years -- I ask myself (and I've asked our marital therapist the same thing), "What do I do when he dies?" Do I give her time? Give her "space"? If he dies tomorrow, would it not be normal for her, despite her likely best attempts to be saddened at his passing? Sure, she would try to contain to lessen my pain. After all, she was in love with him for at least 10 years and maybe the full 15 years of her affair which would've been going on for now 19 months longer had I not (un)luckily came across a random event to uncover her deceitful decade and a half.

Finally (it seems I write/type and start a paragraph with "finally", but there never is a 'final' thought) -- while my blind trust in my wife is gone, I am mostly optimistic about the future. I can distinguish between skepticism and no-trust-whatsoever if she goes out with a girlfriend or for a manicure -- it means, I may (but rarely do) double-check on her, but neither am I just wholly confident that she couldn't far too easily fall into her former pattern. My larger concern is not the future, but the further past of the years between 2001 and 2016 and year 2017 through early 2017 where she lied to me repeatedly to lessen the depth of her deceit and depravity. Those two timelines haunt me. Every time I think to a past whatever -- fill in the blank, a family event, a dinner, a simple drive somewhere, from a seminal 'big' vacation to a minor laugh or smile shared -- I do this mental juxtaposition of how it correlates to when she cheated and how I was deceived and made a fool; part 'b' of that horror is when my mind ends up contemplating how I could so easily be duped when she would lie to me for 13 months in an effort to minimize her guilt (and her oft excuse) to spare me more pain. The thing is, I get some of that -- but the notions of, "When were you EVER going to stop cheating?" and "Why after having been caught and already admitting to 1, 3, 7, 9 years, couldn't you EVER be truthful -- why the continuance of always lying?".

So that's my "story". It's my "drop the mic" story. Sadly, when I cite it as 15 years, I'm discounting the near-affair (who knows if I was duped there or if she's lying here again) 16 years ago; more sadly, I truly don't know when any of her deception could have started. Will our relationship withstand more than half of it spent for her in deceit? Later this year, our marriage certificate will celebrate it's 30th anniversary -- not so for me. My marriage stopped in early 2001. It resumed, if I'm feeling bright and cheery in early 2016, when I'm less so it re-started in late February 2017. One might ask, does it even matter? One might also ask, and this is part of my credo, if she's still lying about her past, our past, then we never really started again anyway. To that end, I took my wedding ring to have it engraved to etch out the 15 years, I'm certain about -- perhaps never choosing to re-engrave it any of the half dozen times she lied to me previously is me finally "getting it right" (read: "she finally told the truth"). Maybe I'll write back here in time to let anyone who cares know. Better yet, maybe one day, my therapist will get his way and any thought of any of this will be a fleeting, passing moment and my life will go on, returning to happiness.

This is exactly what I feel

This article gives the best explanation to what I am feeling right now. My biggest problem is I can't forgive my wife. There was something we discussed before the affair. We told each other this promise, if we are not happy with each other, then we should break the marriage. Did we have problems in our relationship? Yes we did. The signs were there of course. I am not going to paint this like we had a good marriage. We didn't. Like Campbell, it happened with somebody from her job. The other guy was also married also. At the time, she worked late night shifts. I remember one night we were laying in our bed watching TV. Then, a small argument popped up about an affair that happened on the show. Her and I started to have a small argument about it, just like any couple would. She then goes and tells me that, a guy at work kissed her. I am looking at her, silently. I didn't know what to say at that time. She replies with "What? You don't believe me?" It wasn't that I didn't believe her, it was more as to "why did you let him" type of feeling. We went back to watching the show again. Needless to say, that small seed of doubt was now planted in my head. Honestly, I didn't mind it that much. Jealousy has never been in my vocabulary. We talked about it one day. We sat down and talked about what was wrong between us and how to fix it. We were good after that. One Saturday night, we went on a movie date. We sat down by an ice cream parlor at the mall, while waiting for the movie to start. She brought up the kiss from the guy at her work and she said, "It was just a kiss." At that point in moment I said "don't worry about it and let's move on." Things were good for a while. She then started to act strangely, and we went back again to her and I fighting. Getting upset about things that weren't done around the house. Which they were. One day, her mother and I were sitting at the dining table. She wanted to talk to us about how things were not getting done. She threw a fit about how things were not getting done. At that point, I said I quit. That night, I told her I'm leaving. I started looking for apartments around the area and getting information on the web. She saw me on my laptop and saw what I was doing. We did not talk for days on. One night in the summer, she wanted to talk me. We put our kids to bed first. We went into the living room to go talk. We started talking and right there and then, she dropped the bombshell on me. She told me she had cheated on me with the same guy, whom apparently gave her "that kiss." My mind went numb. I lost all sense of emotion. I didn't know what to say. My mind was not racing at all. I was just trying to process this in my head. When she said, "talk to me," I couldn't. I was numbed completely. I told her, "I need to go for a walk." I invited her, she refused. So I said, "well I do. I'll be back. On that walk, I tried to make sense of things. I couldn't. I tried to get angry about it, I couldn't do that either. The feeling wasn't there. After I finished my walk and came back home and sat down. She was there, crying of course. I thought, "what are you crying for?" After composing myself, she asks, "what do we do now?" By all means, right there and then I wanted a divorce. But I reconsider everything we had. I decided to stay in the marriage. We decided to go to marriage counseling. We started doing it, but I wasn't there mentally. Honestly, I really wasn't putting effort. I gave up. One session, it just came out of me. The elephant in the room, the affair. After that session, I left upset from it. We went to the supermarket to get a few things. She tried to hold my hand but I abruptly pulled it away, with a grin look on my face. When we got home, we were in the parking lot. She wanted to talk. I was raging inside. She asked what was wrong. Right there and then, I blew up. I screamed to the top of my lungs, banging on the steering wheel many times. My hands were numb from the banging on the wheel. She said she was sorry. I didn't believe her. I told her, "No, you're not. Quit lying to yourself, you are not sorry for what you did. We made a promise to each other. If we were not happy, that we should leave each other. I never, NEVER, would have thought about doing what you. I never once cheated on any of my previous girlfriends before you." She says "I'm sorry, I really am. You have to forgive me in order for us to move on. You have to." I shake my head and started to cry. I have never cried for woman. Surely, that would be the last time I would ever do. We kept trying after that. But we would have our fights and yes, triggers did come by. I see the point of this article. I have to forgive, even if she did break our promise. But I have no respect, love or admiration for this woman anymore. I cannot allow my anger to get the best of me anymore. I will forgive her, but won't forget ever. My peace of mind right now is my most precious thing for me, aside from my children. But I don't think reconciliation will be a topic of discussion for us. The one thing I can say is, I will pay for forgiveness. That will be my last debt to this relationship. Because all of my currencies we're put into this marriage, like God intended. But I do not have spare change for reconciliation. Thank you for the article and God bless all in this endeavor of self-restitution.

help

Help. So many questions and no idea where to go or start, much less end up.

Hurt Party

I was the victim of an affair. My Wife of three years engaged in three separate fairs, to varrying degrees. All three men were people that i did not know, but that worked with her. A friend of mine that also worked with her told me that she was flirting with one individual a lot and that it seemed that they were in an inapropriate relationship. I asked her about it, and she said that they were casual friends, and nothing more, and that there was nothing to worry about. A few weeks later, i noticed that she was frequently going to bed early, and when i would get to bed she would be clutching her cell phone, and one morning she hadn't plugged it in, the battery died, and her alarms didn't go off so she was late for work. A few days later when i got to bed i noticed that she once again had her phone by her, and it wasn't plugged in. I picked it up to plug it in and curiosity got the better of me, and i looked at her phone to see what was so interesting. I then found an explicit conversation between her, and this man, and she was even using a codename, which was one of her female "friends" from work, whom i immediately realized she had gone out with on several occasions. After reading the conversation in horror i woke her up and confronted her about it, and after a painful interrogation i got some of the truth out of her. She admitted that she had been in relationships with three men at this point, and one of which she had actually met up with three times to have sex, all three of which were under the guise of hanging out with the female friend i mentioned before. She admitted that one of them was purely based on sexting and flirting at work, and the third, which is the one i caught her in, involved a lot of sexting, sending nude photos, and of course flirting at work. She claims that they had never met up in person outside of work, but they were planning to meet up and go on dates, presumably intended to end in sex.
After a few days of confusion,fear,sadness,and anger, i decided that i wanted to try and work this out with her, to try and stay together, mostly for the sake of our two young children, but also because i believed that i still wanted to be with her.
Despite the hurt i was feeling, everything seemed better for about a month, until i once again caught her in contact with this third man, once again sexting and planning to meet up while i was out. This time i became even more angry than the last time, and once again confronted her about it. We then got a support person involved to try and moderate the conversation between us, suffice it to say, it is someone related to her, but that i trust implicitly. After working through this second altercation, i once again decided that i wanted to stay with her, this time i believe it was entirely for the sake of our two young children.
It has now been about two months since the last problem, and my wife seems to actually regret what she did, and hasn't done anything,to the best of my knowledge, since. We are in the process of moving, and switching jobs to try and get a new start. There is a lot going on, and therefor i am very stressed out, but i find that thoughts and doubts are now becoming crippling for me, and making it difficult for me to achieve my daily activities, or become motivated for almost anything.
From what she says, she wants to stay together, and i think i do, but i don't know how to move on and trust anyone anymore.

*DISCLAIMER* I never cheated on her, and although i am not perfect, i have never been anything but a dedicated husband and loving father.

Long term affair

2 years ago I found out that my husband had been lying to me for 12 years and having a relationship with his ex wife. After a lot of soul searching I gave our marriage another chance on the condition he completely ended contact with her. They have adult children who rejected me once the affair was out in the open and now my husband wants to attend significant events in their lives, even although I am not included and his ex will be there, I don’t know whether to accept this or leave him and save myself from further pain and upset.

The ex wife

My husband caught his ex wife cheating on him and my UH then had a revenge affair on her before they divorced, and both of them, at least that is what I have been told, chose to divorce. It was a marriage that lasted less than two years. There were no children involved.
Before we got married he had slept with her again while on a ski trip with the guys. We were in a relationship by then. I knew about his first marriage and that his ex wife had cheated on him. What I didn’t know is that he chose to have the revenge affair before they divorced.
I had told him that I would never hurt him like that. We got married. 9 years into our marriage, he had a few months affair with her. By This time, she had an 8 year old daughter that she also exposed and brought into the affair. Her daughter was not my Uh’s child. His ex wife was cheating on her new husband with her ex husband, my UH.
Now, with multiple sex partners throughput our years together, pornography addiction, etc, my UH is beginning sex addiction treatment.
I required a polygraph after discovering his last physical affair and many more months of lying to me. I wasn’t willing to listen to anymore lies. The ex wife is continuing to contact my UH sharing her life with my UH. 40 years of being in a relationship with my UH, and the ex wife has always been in our relationship in some way or another. She was an EX wife for a reason. I thought I was marrying my UH with his first marriage over and done with.
I’m on this journey struggling to find forgiveness for myself for not knowing what I didn’t know for so many years of my life. It’s been my whole relationship with my UH. We have had an unbelievably full life of wonderful adventures with each other. We had a successful business together even though he doesn’t recognize that without our faithful employees, including me as one of the employees, I don’t believe we would have had the ability to travel as much as we have since before we got married. Our employees were faithful.
I vowed to love, honor and cherish. I vowed to forsake all others. Certainly, I had times where I wanted to say “Time Out.” I want to explore a relationship with some other attractive man. Instead, I chose to honor my vows. I honestly thought that I would be the one who would cheat.
Instead, I am dying from the devastation of being the betrayed. I wonder if I can ever find a way to like him, my UH, again.
This is not the retirement I ever saw as being part of my life. Sex addiction education wasn’t in my scope of life education.
How does one go forward finding out that they were the one who has been taken for granted for all of their marriage with their UH?

Thank you for this article ,

Thank you for this article , I cried as for the first time in 6 months I felt someone else understood what I am going through , I am still ping ponging back and forth every day to stay or go after discovering my husbands affair after 18 years of marriage in a very horrible way. We have amazing kids and he is sorry and wants to work it out but I dunno most days I am just not feeling any remorse our kids know about it which I wish they didn’t . Our marriage was not amazing when this happened we had grown apart a little but there is just NO excuse for this kind of betrayal flat out none!. I wish everyone on here peace and happiness in making your decisions to stay or go . It all just stinks !

Thank You, buttttt

My husband had 4 affairs in a 26 month timeframe. I forgave finding out about #1. I was angry but forgave when I found #2. Either months later, after him telling me there were no others, I found the last 2. I'm not sure how to forgive all the lies. It has been 13 months since Dday and 15 months of him being back to his normal self. Butttt..... 13 months of lies is what I do not understand. I begged him for the truth... He says the guilt and shame is what made him do it. Did not want to lose me by me knowing the awful things had done.
Now what?? Forgive yet again??

I shouldn’t be here....

I never thought I would experience pain so deep.... I should not be here.... this is the hardest thing I have ever lived... the only time I have thought of not living anymore.... I’m afraid I in for a life time of suffering instead of great moment and love.... I can’t shake it off after 6 months from D Day... I truly hate this and my situation... I don’t want this to be my reality... I can’t breathe... and everywhere I go I see those involved... and the knife continues to be turned in my back... Just scared.

Hope

I hope things have gotten a little easier, betrayal is one of the most painful things to live through and 3 years later I still feel it almost every day.

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