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

What Is the Cost of Forgiving Infidelity?

Pull quotes 1

Although there’s no undoing the hurt caused by infidelity, you can accept it and where your life is so you can begin to be free of it. Forgiveness is how you take back your power. Forgiveness is for you.

In EMS Online and EMS Weekend, I talk a lot about forgiveness and how it’s a gift we give ourselves. When we fail to forgive, it can cast us as victims rather than victors in our own lives. As our true selves, forgiveness is a natural practice . As our false selves, the identity we can slide into after the trauma of infidelity, forgiveness doesn’t feel quite as natural. When we’re broken, our initial coping response is to seek justice. The truth of the matter is this: It’s not forgiveness if it’s contingent on justice.

One of the ways couples can get to a better, new life together is through a commitment to forgiveness. In our broken state, forgiveness can be scary and challenging. Please understand that forgiveness does NOT mean forgetting. Additionally, your mate needs to be safe before you can forgive them. They need to take responsibility and say they were wrong. They need to be worthy of reconciliation.

So what is forgiveness? I believe there are three key elements of forgiveness:

  1. Accepting that we’re all human and that we all fail sometimes.
  2. Agreeing to accept the costs of another person’s mistakes.
  3. Committing to not settle the score if your mate messes up.

Attempting to settle the score isn't just unhealthy, but it may also elongate your pain. Forgiveness, true forgiveness, can be a rewarding and restorative act. But there are some costs associated with forgiveness. To put them into perspective, I’d like to share this story about Susan and Steve.*

The Problem With Staying Angry

About a year into her marriage to Steve, Susan's boss invited her to lunch. At the office, they'd connected on a deep level over their shared interests in music, philosophy and religion. What began as a platonic friendship blossomed into a romantic relationship. Susan believed her boss knew her better than her own husband. She started to believe that she married the wrong person, and she was convinced that her boss was her true love. Susan and her boss began an affair.

Susan found it easy to justify her affair. She enjoyed the romance, passion and excitement that she had with her boss. This all came to a screeching halt when her boss suddenly resigned from his position and moved his family to another state. His wife had discovered the affair, and she threatened divorce unless he ended things immediately. Susan, on the other hand, kept the affair a secret from Steve. She was distraught and shattered. She believed she had a future with her boss, whereas her marriage was going nowhere. Not only that, she felt it lacked the love and attention she needed. Susan continued to contact her boss in search of answers, but she was shut down. "I want nothing to do with you," he firmly relayed. He shut the door.

Instead of confessing to Steve and seeking forgiveness, Susan attempted to fill her emotional void with more affairs. She was living a secret life until, out of the blue, the phone rang; it was the wife of her former boss. "Your wife isn't who you think she is. Ask her about the affair she had with my husband. I told him if it happened again, I would no longer keep his secrets. I just discovered he's doing it again." She was coping with infidelity in a flurry of anger, rage and desire for justice. She believed that projecting her pain would make her feel better. It didn't. Instead, it caused her and others — in this case, Steve and Susan — more pain. It also didn't change her situation. Ultimately, by choosing to act out of rage instead of empathy, she stayed stuck in her hurt.

In Susan's world, things began to crash down all around her. At first, she denied the affair; eventually, she came clean. She pleaded for forgiveness. She said she now realized she had married well, and that she loved the family she and Steve had created together. But for Steve, this was all new to him. This was his ground zero. He no longer trusted his current reality, his past, his future, his wife or even himself. For him, forgiving infidelity just didn't seem possible. I'm here to tell you that forgiveness is always possible. It isn't necessarily easy, but it's important when you're trying to move forward.

The Cost of Forgiveness for the Betrayed Mate

Whether you're the wayward or the betrayed mate, the path to true forgiveness comes with costs and, yes, pain. For the betrayed mate, these costs can be significant. Take Steve, for example. He had been a good husband and father. Although he was by no means perfect, he'd lived and loved well. For him, forgiveness meant violating his personal beliefs and values. He never would have chosen to be with someone who deceived him. Staying with Susan came at the cost of settling for something he didn't want.

For betrayed mates, forgiving infidelity takes sacrifice. It means giving up all hope for a better past. It takes letting go of what you thought your relationship was and making peace with what it really is. It takes accepting that although this isn't the road you wanted to go down, this is your reality. By choosing to stay with the wayward partner, you're saying that you love them in spite of their brokenness and want to pave a better, brighter future with them. Understand that when you choose to stay, it can cost you your pride, self-respect and dignity.

When you choose to forgive and stay with your mate, you're ultimately taking a leap of faith. It takes loving them unconditionally, even though it may cost you to do so. You have no way of knowing whether this will be the last time they make a fool of you. But to truly forgive them, you'll have to show them ongoing grace, compassion and support — even when they screw up. Forgiveness just isn't a one-time thing.

The Benefits of True Forgiveness

When I strayed from my marriage, my wife continued to love me even though I'd hurt her greatly. She extended me grace when I least deserved it. She helped me see that our marriage wasn't the problem but, rather, the problem was within me. She could have written me off and stayed angry at me for eternity — I wouldn't have blamed her! Instead, she stayed by my side. She helped me see what true love really was.

Like Susan, I was seeking attention and admiration outside my marriage because I was broken. It wasn't easy for my wife to forgive me, but I'm blessed that she did. It cost her to do so but, in return, we now have a stronger marriage than we ever had before. I know firsthand that severe crises can lead to radical transformations. Again, forgiveness can feel unnatural and difficult when we’re broken. For the betrayed mate, forgiving infidelity may also come with these costs:

  • Their reality might get interrupted with painful memories of the past.
  • They might have to sacrifice their dignity, pride and dreams.

When you truly forgive the betrayal, you can come out on the other side of your trauma. To get there, I recommend betrayed mates register in our Harboring Hope course. It's a safe place where you and other hurt mates will gain tools to accept the past, forgive the betrayal and build a new, brighter life. If you're the wayward mate, I recommend signing up for our Hope for Healing course. It's a safe place where you and other wayward mates can escape the isolation, shame and even apathy you might be trapped under.

For your sake, I hope you'll try to embrace forgiveness — not anger — and take steps toward personal healing. If you find yourself stuck along the way, we at Affair Recovery are here to help. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us about any of our courses and programs at: info@hope-now.com. One of our knowledgeable and caring employees will get back to you as soon as possible.

*The names and some of the details of this story were changed to protect the identities of those involved

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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 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 ...

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.

Excellent column on post-adultery forgiveness

Rick's reflections are always excellent, but this one is especially so! I resonate with it from the standpoint of being deeply wounded by my wife's betrayal, choosing to stay with her, and working through the long, difficult and redemptive journey of forgiveness. One of the most freeing insights is that a person's adultery arises more from that person's internal problems than from the spouse's faults or from the state of the marriage.

Wayne

Hi Wayne.
Your videos are almost always very helpful and relatable. I am surprised to hear that your marriage did not last. It sounds like you went through a recovery though. I am too old to waste time on working through a long recovery process, think that we are through it, then end up divorced. I am 2.5 years post discovery. I still have a great deal of difficulty dealing with what I now know. I still feel like the world is upside down. Although I understand that what I thought I/we had is not reality, I want to have the best life I can going forward. As with everyone, the variables (pros and cons) to measure are many and complex. To help me make the best decision and still have enough time to enjoy retirement years, do you mind shedding light on the reason for your divorce? Did infidelity play a part? or were you past that?

Forgiving...over and over....

This article is so helpful and I so wished it would have been my success story, but it isn't. We attended EMS weekend in Texas January of last year and I thought we were well on our way to the road of recovery. We did the incredible difficult and grueling work, and continued with our group calls, and also Harboring Hope and Hope for Healing courses. I worked hard at forgiveness, and I did forgive him for his affair, and was healing and doing my best to work, and move on. Bottom line, he still wanted his affair partner. The discovery of finding out my then-husband was still continuing his contact with her during all of this so-called, "I'm all in and doing what I can to be the best husband for you and help you heal", was yet all another lie. He left our home again less than four months after all of the above. He moved his affair partner and her children back in with him again this past December and we are at the final stages of divorce (he filed). So, I ask, how can I even begin to dare forgive again after everything - all my trust - and then discovering that all my new trust - was built on deception again, and more lies. To add injury to all of this, he had to inform me that they are now living virtually catty-corner to our home! Why? One piece that will always haunt me is what happened during our EMS weekend. On the last day, Kay and I think his name was Bill at Affair recovery, gave their heartbreaking testimony and their healing journal back to a healthy marriage. My then-husband approached Bill and talked with him. He told Bill about his breakup with his affair partner and stated that she and he had been together over 20 years before he and I met; that they had lived together off and on for five years. But they had very difficult break up. Bill's response was, "you didn't have a breakup, you had a divorce". Somehow in my then-husband's mind, he felt he never had gotten the closure with her and that this comment gave him "permission" to do that. Which started up their conversations again and back to the affair. I know that wasn't the intent. I applaud everyone that choose to work and remain in their marriages. It is well worth it!! Trust me! This divorce is worse than dying as we will be forever tied together due to some issues.

It's a living death, revisited over and over

I am so sorry that you are in this mess. I have a wayward husband that never owned any of it. Ran off to another state 2 years ago and ended all communication with me. We are married 36 years!! I am now finally coming to my senses and filing divorce. He never owned it, never apologized, continued his addictive and sinful lifestyle. I know your pain. They lie and they lie and they lie. Well, I want my life back, if he continues being so unsafe, I can't continue to live like this. I have to make the decision to lay it all on the altar. My therapist says it's a living death. It is like he died but he keeps reappearing over and over. He (therapist) also says, I can never get rid of him, we have children and grandchildren together. Although he doesn't see any of them either and his daughter has not talked to him in years because he won't get help.

I hear you!

DMTAFF76, I am beyond crushed by reading the path your ex deceptively dragged you down. For me, that was the road not travelled. I forgave my ex-wife, but after gaining access to a year or two's worth of her text messages and a goodly number of her private social media messages she exchanged with some lovers; I realized she was wholly untrustworthy and filed for divorce which was finalized two years ago. I forgive my ex completely. She developed horrible substance abuse issues on top of whatever drove her to her affairs. The point of all this is that I wish affair recovery sites like this one would more openly acknowledge that the cheater is frequently just too broken to wisely stay with, even if your immediate personal safety doesn't appear to be an issue (don't forget STDs if they keep playing the field after forgiving them!!). Giving forgiveness IS absolutely key to your own future well-being, but I suspect most folks like you and me are better off forgiving and then rolling out. My case was a bit easier in that my ex-wife's addiction issues allowed me to keep the house and our kids so my interaction with her is actually limited, for which I thank God daily. I find myself more often on the ChumpLady.com side of the fence. While we're all imperfect, broken creatures to be certain, there are many who are so noxiously tied up in their narcissistic ways that continuing to share our one life with them is an exercise in masochism with little or no future benefit.

Forgiveness when he still withholds information

It has been just under 2 years that I found the emails. We immediately went for counseling (individually) and at our disclosure he was still lying. He refuses to tell me who the affair was with. Without this information I am living in limbo. He swears they weren’t intimate. The emails say otherwise. Covid hit before we could meet with our counselors again after the disclosure. We’ve been trying but I can’t get past the deceit. If he’d have come clean it would be behind us now. He thinks everything is ok. It will never be okay until I know the truth. Healing for me is impossible without all the pieces. I’m ready to bail on our marriage.

This was truly helpful! Thank

This was truly helpful! Thank you!
Val

How do I forgive?

I have read much about forgiveness being for yourself to be able to move on but also you state "your mate needs to be safe before you can forgive them. They need to take responsibility and say they were wrong. They need to be worthy of reconciliation." So how does one move on or forgive when the wayward spouse refuses to take responsibility, refuses to admit they were wrong? Blames me for their cheating...I made him do it? 32 years of marriage, 36 years together only to find out the cheating had been going on most likely our entire marriage but certainly the last dozen. You ask what type of affair was it? It wasn't just one type. He had one night stands (posted ads and responded to them for hook-ups with other married women), he had long-term affairs simultaneously, claimed he was 'in love' with these other women, had emotional attachments and had repetitive sex with his hook-ups, paid prostitutes for sex....so how does one heal from this? I prayed for our marriage and he stomped on it. He blames me for all his cheating and threatened me emotionally to drag me through court. This marriage wasn't salvageable but it's been 18 months since the day of the first discovery and I cannot get past the pain and the anger. I want to move on and supposedly 'forgiveness' is the key. The divorce is final but I had to give more than courts would have given just to get away and start to move on with my life. But due to three kids, the connection will never fully allow me to move on. He isn't worthy of forgiveness because he won't take responsibility for his actions. How do I forgive someone who doesn't accept responsibility? How long is it going to take to get past the grief of this failed marriage?

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