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

Ever wonder why men cheat and why women cheat?

Why did my spouse cheat? Why men cheat and why women cheat may be the most sought after question we hear. Maybe it’s because we’re about to start our next round of the EMS Online courses, but this question keeps coming up. Alas, if you’re asking the above question about a cheating spouse, you may also be asking countless other questions like:

  • Why did they do it and how could they do that and still want to be with me and love me?
  • I just want to understand why it happened? What does the other person have that I don't?
  • Why would they risk a life of calm and serenity for excitement and cheap passion with someone who is so messed up and trashy; can’t they see how unrealistic this relationship really is?
  • Why do men cheat or why do women cheat and have no conscience about it?
  • Did he ever really love me?
  • How does a betrayer or a cheating spouse think? (i.e. WHAT were you THINKING??!!!!)

I’ll take a shot at trying to answer some of the questions.

Why did they do it and how could they do that and at the same time, still want to be with me and love me?

For starters, a key principle in life and certainly in understanding infidelity is the concept that behavior does not equal motive. How often have you done something you didn’t want to do? It happens all the time. And while infidelity is horrible and gut wrenching, it is certainly something that people can get into and then discover it’s not what they really wanted.

All too frequently we follow our emotions, falsely believing we want something, only to discover once we have it, that it’s not what we want at all. In the moment of truth, when the mistake is discovered, it can seem like it’s too late. Loyalty bonds have been broken, hearts crushed, vows shattered. I firmly believe lives can be healed, but many times at the beginning, it’s convincing the parties that the lives can be restored that is a bigger challenge.

For the hurt spouse, the question to the cheating spouse remains, “How could you, if you really cared?” The fact is the caring has little or nothing to do with what they’ve done. What they did happened in spite of caring. A tragic yet ever so poignant aspect of these situations is how they actually reveal to the unfaithful mate what they really wanted all along.

The larger issue is usually for the hurt spouse. It may be painful to believe their mate really does care about them because then they might be compelled to consider re-entering the relationship. Time plus proper reconciliatory efforts are the only commodities which can reveal the truth. If you’re what they really want, then they’ll go the distance and give you the necessary space to heal.

I just want to understand why it happened. What does the other person have that I don't?

There’s no way to determine the why right now. A lifetime can be spent searching for the why. There are as many reasons why as there are stars in the sky. The complexity lies in the multitude of factors driving that choice for the cheating spouse.

For some, the infidelity is caused by unhealed and unresolved baggage brought into the marriage. At times it’s a maladaptive response to problems in the marriage. Rather than addressing issues head on, someone may use some form of infidelity as the solution to their dilemma.

At times, it’s about an addiction and at times it can even be situational where someone does something careless in the moment and then feels trapped and unable to disentangle themselves. I’m certainly not minimizing harmful and hurtful behaviors, but it is very possible to end up where you don’t want to be and then be absolutely lost on how to actually salvage the situation and the marriage.

Typically, people enjoy how the affair partner makes them feel. Affair partners tend to serve as a vanity mirror (casting an image of ourselves we think looks pretty good) and the spouse as a makeup mirror (magnifying and highlighting our flaws). This is why the affair partner seems to be the preferred commodity, but in the long run it’s just an illusion and eventually the negatives and baggage will show up once more.

Why would they risk a life of calm and serenity for excitement with someone who is so messed up and trashy?

In all honesty, there is a good chance the person who’s acting out isn’t even thinking about risking a life of calm and serenity for the excitement of being with someone else. The compartmentalization that most betrayers and even addicts utilize separates the two realities in their mind. The risk is part of what brings the adrenaline and excitement, but the reality of losing everything they hold dear doesn’t really hold any weight in the moment. At one level they may be aware that they could lose everything, but the reality of that possibility doesn’t really register in their mind. It seems literally incomprehensible to the betrayed spouse, however it’s a very real mindset the betrayer falls into.

It’s a difficult concept to explain to someone who’s not an addict. It’s a bit like trying to describe light or color to a blind person. You can tell them what it’s like, but unless you experience it, then it’s hard to believe someone could actually think this way. However, please don’t hear me saying this is an excuse for this type of behavior. It absolutely is NOT. The person who lives like this still does know what they’re doing is wrong and there are ways to deal with their reality, but they have to make that choice on their own. We can help and create opportunities for them to come out of the haze of their choices, but it requires their own commitment to the process.

Why do men cheat or women cheat and have no conscience about it?

Asking the question why men cheat and why women cheat may really be asking the question why do people cheat and have no guilt regarding their actions. Only a very small percentage of the population experience little to no guilt when acting out. The vast majority feels the prick of conscience, but they use defense mechanisms to push that guilt away.

They can use defense mechanisms such as blaming, victim thinking, minimization, rationalization, or denial as a way to justify their actions and push the guilt away. If they have resentments toward their mate they may justify their actions by feeling their spouse deserves it for the lack of concern for their desires emotionally or sexually. If they’ve been doing the behavior for a longer period of time, their heart may have become hardened to the behavior and it no longer seems that bad.

A lack of remorse doesn’t mean they have no conscience. It can be an indication that somehow in their mind they have come up with a way to justify what they’ve done in order to avoid taking responsibility for their failure.

Did they ever really love me?

This one is hard to answer. It all depends on how you define love. One thing for certain, if someone betrays their mate, I know what they’ve done is not loving. However, I believe every human being is capable of loving someone and at the same time, in a moment of selfishness, act in ways that are contrary to love. Loving your mate in no way precludes you from being angry with them and saying something hurtful. I understand that saying something hurtful certainly isn’t in the same league as a betrayal, but if your love for your mate isn’t sufficient to keep you from acting in a way that’s unloving towards them, then their love for you may not be sufficient to keep them from doing something hurtful to you.

On the other hand, I believe many people, including cheating spouses, have a very shallow understanding of love. They get married thinking they love their mate, but in reality they love how their mate makes them feel about themselves. If that’s the case, they will continue in the relationship as long as the marriage continues to make them happy. But if, for whatever reason, the marriage ceases to make them happy, or if they find someone or something that makes them feel even better, then it won’t be long until the allure of doing something else begins to draw them elsewhere. If that occurs, does it mean they never loved you? Again, it’s hard to know another’s heart, but it is possible that their journey into the forbidden may have also opened their eyes and helped them realize that you’re what they really cherish. At this point, their reality begins to shift and it’s a teeter totter of guilt, despair, and confusion as to what to do next to try and save the marriage. At the very least, if they are choosing to work on the relationship, I believe their betrayal and your response may be the very thing that begins to teach them the true meaning of love and open up a door for true reconciliation. I know this type of restoration is possible, as I’ve seen it with my own marriage, as well as countless others who endeavor to merely give the marriage a chance to be restored.

How does a betrayer or cheating spouse think? (i.e. WHAT were you THINKING??!!!!)

Sad to say, if they had really been thinking and considering the impact of their actions, there is a good chance they never would have done this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard both men and women state if they had known the consequences of their actions before they had acted, they would have never done it. I think very few people rightly consider all the costs when they act out. For your sake and theirs, I wish they had been thinking. I’d have less business, but the world would be a safer place.

Regardless of how you’ve arrived at this point in your attempts at reconciliation or healing, I want you to know there is hope today. The callousness of your spouse or the unrelenting hurt in your heart doesn’t at any level disqualify you from being able to find hope, healing, and a restored love. It’s not easy and it’s not overnight, but despite the need for a process, the end result is more than worth it. Relationships are at risk, and the rest of your lives are at risk. Such precious commodities need a proven approach that is not rooted in shaming or ‘guilting’ you or your spouse into recovery, but in leading you down a road of discovery and healing. I hope and pray you’ll reach out today for help and at the very least an assessment of your particular situation.

Sections: 

RL_Category: 

RL_Media Type: 

Add New Comment:

Comments

I know all sorts of reasons

I know all sorts of reasons why I should give my wife a second chance including our years together, family, children....but What makes them deserve that chance?

How do you address that fact that while healing is possible, with a lot of time and compassion, forgiveness may never be a possibility? The betrayed seems to be able to "put it away", but I don't know if the betrayal can ever truly be forgiven. It seems that the betrayed often say they forgive and are moving on, but hold onto the betrayal...even storing it as a safeguard against it ever happening again.

For me, I seem to be holding it back. I'm living a life that seems (to her and the world) to be moving on and forward, but in the back of my mind...I'm waiting for it to happen again, or for me to just find the courage to leave her. I don't want to reveal how I truly feel, that the marriage is irreparable, as she has already suffered enough for her actions and is more repentant and humble than I could ever ask for.

I am right there with you.

I am right there with you. My husband had an emotional affair with a younger female at work. He said it was just a friendship at work only, that they never talked or saw each other after work. But they exclusively lunched alone together every day. He never mentioned her name to me...not once so I had no idea that he even worked with a girl named Michelle. My husband will admit that it was an emotional affair only because I showed him multiple articles on the internet that is what he had. He said she meant nothing to him, they talked about nothing but tv shows and other people at work, but to me, logically, why did he feel the need to never mention her to me. Why do you hide something that doesn't need to be hidden? So the result is my trust in him is lost and I think I will never return. He is so apologetic, admitted it was wrong. He kept this secret friendship from me for over three years. The only reason I found out was because I started to have gut feelings that wouldn't go away. I became depressed and started to question him and nag him nonstop until he finally confessed of his secret friendship with a girl I never knew he even worked with for years. So now afte 7 months of finding this out, I have experienced a deep hurt and pain that I don't think I've ever experienced before. I am on meds, I see therapists....nothing is helping me with this hurt. My husband claims he was stupid, didn't think of me, but still loves me and doesn't want to break up our marriage and family. All I know is that just when I think I have forgiven him and feel normal, something will trigger me and I will go crazy once again and scream and yell at him, blaming him for the pain I suffer. If I'm not yelling, then I am crying and barely can function. It's a roller coaster ride right now and I'm still trying to figure out if he deserves a second chance. I'm still trying to figure out the WHY behind his secret so called innocent friendship in which he needed to protect enough to make sure I never knew about it. I just don't know what to do and everyday is a crap shoot for me regarding my emotional state. We've been married for 14 years and together total of 20 years. That's a lot of time invested in a person and I honestly feel complete shock about this and wonder if this hurt will ever go away.
I am sorry for your pain, I know how you feel. A betrayal from the person you trust and love the most in this world makes you question everything you thought you knew about that person. I hope you hang on and keep positive, and try to take care of yourself.

Yes...I feel like you do

Yes...I feel like you do every single day!! I hate the out of control emotions.

I hear you both

I know the pain you both express. My wife had, at first, an emotional affair with an old boyfriend from high school that she found on facebook, that eventually turned physical and she ended up leaving me for him. She chose to throw away our 20 year marriage and tear apart our family so she could be "happy" with the "love of her life" that she had only dated for a few months her junior year of high school and then hadn't talked to in over 24 years. I couldn't understand how she could do that to our three kids. I have had to come to the place where I realize that I will never understand and that even if I did it wouldn't bring healing. Healing isn't found in understanding. Healing for me has only been found in holding on to the truth that GOD is GOOD despite the nightmare you are in. No matter what my circumstances may feel like, THAT is true. It is truly the hardest to trust Him in the fact that He can use this horrible pain somehow for good in the lives of my kids. But again, that is where I just have to choose to TRUST that what He says is true. It is NOT a one-time-and-done kind of trust. It is a DAILY choosing to trust. Even still, after 3 and a half years since she began her affair and I found out (and now 3 years after she left me for him) it is still painful. Events still happen that poke at that wound. It also helps tremendously to have found community with people who have also walked similary painful paths. I wouldn't say that the pain ever fully goes away - at least it hasn't yet for me. But I can say that I am learning to have much better reactions to the pain when it comes. I can't say I know what the pain would be like if she had stayed. I do think though, that the greatest pain that I feel now - the pain I feel for my kids every day - would not be there.

2 years out

I am more than two years out from discovery. Though obviously my resentment and issues are still present, I'm not on that emotional roller coaster any longer. It faded with time, but it has taken all of two years to get there. I still have moments (many times a day) of flashbacks and sometimes I get visibly shaken by it. Sometimes I cannot look at my wife due to the disgust...but that is not as deep, painful or prolonged as it used to be. In the end, here is the one thing you will have to accept.....There is no honest, good or legitimate reason for the "why".

It is just something you have to decide to live, or not live, with.

Many times, it could just be the desire for attention. As a guy, we are often just STUPID ...simply paying attention to women who fawn over us or make us feel intellectually or physically superior. It's all about insecurity on our part. I had it happen to me, but I rebuffed the woman's advances. My wife had it happen to her, she chose to have an affair. For me that decision is about moral character....Do I want to be with someone who would ever do this to me? That is my pending question.

Please give yourself time to come down off the roller coaster and starting seeing things clearly. Choose to find that clarity of mind and gain control of yourself, in order to make a rational and logical decision. Don't base any decision on your feelings now. I know you don't trust them, and you shouldn't....You're in protection mode and this anguish will cloud any judgement about your relationship. It may take a while, but you will find yourself on more stable ground and then you will be ready to face your future.

Please know there are many people who feel your pain. If we could, we would reach out and hug you.

Thank you sharing. My husband

Thank you sharing. My husband has an affair of 2 years with 1 abortion and 1 pregnancy which she carried till birth.
I am still having nightmares ans flashbacks as those they just happened before my eyes, though Dday was a year ago.
I blame him to putting me through this.
My self worth took such a bashing that I am so insecured and there is so much anger and hurt within me. He would say why cant you move on.
I know life will not be the same anymore, and I will not be the same anymore. Everything triggers my thoughts on his infidelity.
I just wish it never happened, and thinking that I was not good enough is cutting so deeply into my soul.

Forgiveness is possible, but don't try to rush it.

I'll answer your questions based on my marriage.

1) Why should I give my wife (of 14 years with 3 kids from 11 to 3) a second chance? What makes her deserve that chance?
Well, to be honest, my wife did not deserve the chance. She hadn't done anything to earn another chance. I discovered the affair while it was still going on, so it's not even like she cut it off with him and came clean to me. Her deserving a second chance has nothing to do with my giving it to her, any more than God's forgiveness of me has anything to do with my deserving it.

2) How do I address that while healing is possible, forgiveness may never be possible?
In the beginning, I feared that I would never be able to forgive my wife for what she had done. However, forgiveness is not always the first step, so don't worry about it. My wife talks about me comforting her on our back deck, holding her as she cried over the mess her life was in (2 day post discovery). That was God and anyone who knows me knows that I am not capable of that level of compassion for someone who has hurt me that much. I had not forgiven my wife at that point, I was still angry at her and my "friend" who had betrayed me, but God had one of his children who was in pain and needed to be held and to know that God loved her and, lucky for me, He put me in that place to do that for my wife.

The last question wasn't phrased as a question, but I'm going to answer it as if it were. What did I do when I felt the need to "fake it till I made it" or look like I was moving forward when I was holding back?
I talked to people. One of the problems I had is I couldn't talk to my friends, because most were her friends too and others were just mine and would tell me I was crazy to stay with her. I needed to have a support group of men I could talk to without fear that they would judge me for staying with her, judge her for what she did, etc. Basically, I needed a place I could go to process life, out loud, and have guys just say "Thanks for sharing Joe". It got better, and it's still getting better. I'm not in a daily fear of the "other shoe dropping".

My wife and I have now been married for 17 1/2 years and our marriage is better than it ever was before. I have forgiven her, I can't point to a day and say that was the day, but slowly I realized that I had forgiven her. I wish it had never happened, but it did and God does not waste a hurt.

From Anon

Wow.
And thank you for your feedback. It seems so much better to hear this advice from someone who has been in my shoes.
Maybe that's the point of your last answer.

Spot On

Your thoughts are right on with what I wanted to say. That we don't deserve Christ forgiveness either. Forgiveness is a process, I've forgiven my wife as much as I can at this point. In other words I've made the logical choice too, but emotionally forgiving its going to take some time.

I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one who feels like Gods compassion has been flowing through me and allowing me to love and hold and comfort my wife and she processes and feels the pain of what she did to me, our marriage, the other marriage, etc. When my wife broke the news to me and finished she begged me to say something, anything, all I could think to say was that I still loved her, and I did/do. But it has to be because of God, I don't think that the way I've handled this is something I have done on my own, its God using me as a vessel to show his grace. I don't deserve Christ love or forgiveness, and I suppose my wife doesn't deserve mine, but Christ loves me and forgave me, and I'm choosing to love and forgive my wife as much as I feel I can at any given time. Like you Joe, I'm lucky that I get to help comfort the woman that God gave me as a wife.

I think the hardest part for me is that I don't feel like there is anyone else I have to talk to, no one really knows about the affair except the us, our pastor and the AP and his spouse; but more than that I don't know who else I would tell even if we weren't trying to keep it quiet. Which is why I'm here I guess.

It's a slow process to recovery, but by Gods grace it is happening!

Your words fit me perfectly.

Your words fit me perfectly. I didn't think anyone else felt this way. I often ask myself if I did the right thing by staying in my marriage. I feel like I did the right thing for my children. It's been two years since I found out about my husband's affair. He still feels guilty but sometimes I feel like I'm paying the price for his affair. My husband also does not know how I truly feel. He thinks everything is fine. We've been to counseling and have tried different programs, but none of it changes the way I feel. I don't feel like a whole person. This affair has taken a lot from me, more than my husband will ever realize.

They will never really know

Why is it that we won't tell them how we are really doing ? That's what I asked myself when reading your response. Is it we don't want to hurt them? Harm the progress we or they have made? Make them feel bad all over again? Piss them off? I think for me all of the above. Sadly, he will never really know how my heart aches everyday. He doesn't ask. His life is easier if he doesn't know. Unfortunately I've been conditioned by my spouse that there will be some sort of negative response if I bring IT up, if I have a heart retching moment that destroys my day, I hear a song, or am feeling insecure and vulnerable, I don't talk about it.. I bear my burden alone and tell myself it or I will be ok. Why is it that the betrayed tend to be the ones that console or end up saying we're sorry after a blow up. Thinking about it right now, it may be the same reason he had an affair and I would never allow myself to do such a horrible thing and hurt someone I love. Shouldn't the betrayer be consoling the person they chose to betray? Wouldn't it make more sense that they would be asking us how we are doing? If we have any thing we would like to talk about ? No. It's not like that for me or for many of the people I read about on this site. Why ? Once again, they were the ones who were selfish enough to be able to have an affair to begin with. Morality, loyalty, selflessness, and empathy to name a few. That's what we have that they didn't and some still don't. I'm so messed up since this happened 3 1/2 yrs ago but....he doesn't know it. Why? Because I love him that much ! Sad but true. Unfortunately, even though we are doing amazingly well and he is good to me, I will never be the person I used to be, but, I am doing good ! What goes around comes around. I will remain a good person, a good mother and a faithful wife. I hope you and all the other men and women who have been crushed will realize that they are not as bad, inadequate, or horrible as this undeserving situation has made us feel. Let God heal you, move forward and try not to look back! Blessing to all. May the new year be better than the last !

You took my words ....

Wow I have just cried reading your post as this is EXACTLY how I feel, I couldn't have written it better myself. I am 2 years past DDay and although we attended counselling and agreed to "work through it" it's like the elephant in the room that we no longer talk about. Despite doing so much positive work on communication .. We've come to a complete stop. He never asks how I am, how I am feeling or offers any reassurance. I, in turn don't talk about it either for fear of "bringing it up again" I get the fact that to him he wants to forget and move on .. But he never checks in with me to see that I'm doing ok. I have really low moments that basically I Just work through on my own, this makes me resent him at times and I feel I am struggling. I no longer feel the person that I used to be, it has forever changed me and that I find really frightening. God Bless and keep moving forward x

Why don't we tell them

We don't tell them how we really feel, because we love them. It is a conflicting feeling to love someone, be crushed by them and to be repulsed at the same time. But that love rises to the surface and makes us bite our tongue.
In holding back, we may even be doing exactly what the betrayer was doing..holding in feelings an thoughts until the manifest. Someone oh is weak or even self-centered may choose to have an affair. But ...most of the time...a betrayed spouse would have rather that the honest truth, no matter how heartbreaking. It would have shown caring and concern, rather than malice and cowardice. My wife wasn't thinking of me or our children, she was only thinking of her own needs to attention.
Is holding back the right thing to do now? I doubt it. It will come to light. But how do yourself your wife that you would really prefer to be alone, that you don't believe in her any more, and that you are disgusted by her actions? I'm trying to spare her that pain, but deep inside I need I say it. Someday.

Thank you

These words were exactly how I feel - same time period everything. We are really good and have a much better marriage bizarrely however that's all he sees rather than the true pain I see to get to this point. I will never been the same person but will thanks god everyday that I found the strength to truly make it work and hold it together.

I too share your questions and concerns

It's been about 9 months since I found out my husband was having an emotional affair with his boss at work. I found emails of the two of them discussing marriage and how particular songs made them feel. I was devastated. I went through a whole plethora of emotions in a very short amount of time and even though he hurt me, I couldn't imagine my life without him. I begged and pleaded with him to give us a chance to work on whatever it was that made him stray. It wasn't until I confronted him with the cold reality of what it meant if we divorced (by bringing him dissolution papers) that he even attempted to give us a shot at repairing our marriage. We went to counseling and to a dispute resolution course and really grew together during that time. I love this man dearly and even if he didn't deserve a second chance, I know I never would have forgiven myself if I hadn't fought for us.

But, I'm not sure when the day of forgiveness will arrive for me. I want to forgive him. I want to let it all go, but I keep being reminded of the things he did that really hurt me most. His affair began in late January, but by this time last year he was already showing signs (that I didn't recognize then) that there was something wrong. This time last year I was incredibly ill with the flu and he didn't seem to care.

I don't want to keep thinking about these things, but I know that because of the time of year, I am going to be reminded of all the stuff that really hurt me. I so want to forgive him and get past these hurt feelings. I don't want to keep on discussing this or feeling upset over it. What's done is done and we really have a better relationship because of it--but how do I stop feeling hurt by it?

What about having to go into revovery for the second time?

My wife knew full well the consequences of her third affair. I only knew about the second one when I found out about the third. These were over 25 years with the same man during our 32 year marriage. We seem to be doing well with recovery however I still have so many extra "why" questions now. Honestly she had two affairs during her first marriage. She seems to truly want me and our marriage however there are still unexplained "details" and she continued to trickle out information for months after D-day. I do love her and want to get our marriage where it should be but now I really fear something is seriously wrong with her personality. Do you have any suggestions that can help me?

Stop asking why or how

I am the betrayed wife, recovering from my husband's 22 year affair with the same woman. It appears that he was able to compartmentalize his relationships with her and with me and his family. His behavior has changed for the better, but I don't trust him, don't pretend to trust him. I have found the strength to forgive him and love him again, BUT I have also found the strength to leave him if I discover that the affair isn't over or if it resumes. It is difficult for me not to ask questions about their relationship. When I have asked he seems to be quite forthcoming. Now, I am at the stage that I wished it never happened.

not knowing how.

For my spouse, he let it slip "she was so attractive" then swears he doesn't know why. He shook his head while saying this like he was pushing away images in his mind. He described her empathy for him when I forgot his last birthday before I discovered his affair. He would complain to my siblings that I was disrespectful and out of nowhere to me, that people had higher regard for him than I do.
In time we both agreed that his excuses were gross and unfair. He was with her because of sex, avoiding his failures in his marriage by turning to someone who satisfied his needs without demanding or requiring his commitment.
His reasons were clear to me and I know the shame of his actions and the same pride and arrogance with which he ignored marital issues as well intrinsic selfishness made him act out. All that was too much to openly admit. He now goes overboard in trying to fix this.
I believe the betrayed spouse can piece together why by sieving through the little they admit and how they behaved or said during the affair.
My husband was being selfish, arrogant and sexually addicted(porn).

Rick, this is an excellent article

Rick,

I will be sharing this article through a variety of sources. It is an excellent article!

Wife had an affair for 10 years

My wife had an affair with her ex-boss for 10 years and it ended ONLY when I discovered 10 years worth of emails on her computer and I called the married man involved and ended it. I then confronted her and she admitted to everything. She NEVER cried, which has always bothered me, but she DID for the first time in years act very loving towards me. It is almost one year to the day of their last "date" and It is a struggle at best. Just as soon as I forgive her, something will trigger a thought in my mind and I am eaten alive by it again. We raised our three kids from infancy back then into teenagers and all those memories, all those family photos, EVERYTHING was false. It hurts so bad, I love those memories. In retrospect things were NOT good during that time, but I never ever thought she would do this. Even if our love life was down, I always thought she was my best friend in the world. She has done her best I think, although I wish to no end she would actually CRY about it sometimes. She, when angry, has said that she thinks the whole thing actually "helped" her stay married to me and that I am to blame for not listening to her. Then when apologetic she takes full blame. But she NEVER really gets upset.

How does it all end? I am so ENRAGED at his smiling mug and the FACT that he and his wife and daughters do NOT have to go through this, he is still a pillar of the community type and his daughters idolize him. I could ruin him but have not.
How does it all end? I am beginning to think it never does.

Thanks for the forum. I have no answers. Something will ALWAYS come up to bring it up.

My heart breaks for you

Keith,
As I type this response, I'm having to hold back the burning in my throat and I'm fighting the sting of tears in my eyes. My husband's affair didn't last as long as your wife's. But for the 20 years of our marriage, he has behaved in selfish, disrespectful, and often emotionally abusive behavior against me. Before his affair, my husband now admits to a one night stand, to a number of flirtations with random women, three emotional affairs. I believe he's not being completely truthful about the extent of his involvement with any of these women. I may as well consider he has been unfaithful for the entirety of our marriage.

I, too, now look at old photographs, birthday cards, and tender memories with a cynical eye. I question the validity of his loving words, feel the stab of rage and despair when I see the devastation of what I thought was a good life. I can do nothing about the women of years ago.

So, I get you, Keith... I get the torture and dissatisfaction when our betrayers show no apparent sorrow for their egregious betrayals. I can feel for you, because I know with painful detail the open wound in the heart and soul that just won't stop bleeding and screeching the injustice of it all. I hate that the affair partner is still enjoying her life, thinking herself loved and the sexiest of beings, and he was now certain for weeks that he'd never loved her... instead, he broke up with the excuse, "my therapist said I can't see you any more".

But through all this, I must tell you... I don't surrender to the hate and anger. I'm deserving of love, including my own! Comforting as anger and bitterness is when we're hurt, it isn't healthy. Sure, it's easy to think this way, but in practice, battling triggers and anxiety, doubts, and all the garbage that affairs dump on us, the betrayed, is nothing short of Herculean. Have courage, Keith... take comfort instead in knowing you aren't alone, and you're NOT crazy, and slowly, but surely, it can get better.

God bless you and your family. I'll be praying for you and for all of us I'm the same boat

re: support

Joe, your comment struck me like a knife. I realize tha i am stuck and a non judgmental outlet just to "get it out" can you share with me the support group you are involved in? I feel that if i keep this bottled up any longer I'll blow!

Glad to know that my feelings are normal

It's good to hear that I am not alone in feeling that I really don't know that I will ever truly forgive my husband. I still love him, but this betrayal has changed something in me and I don't know that I will ever truly be the same. I have told him that I will try to give him a second chance, but deep down I don't know that this will not eventually eat away at me so much that I leave. Our newborn son was one week old when he starting sleeping with his co-worker. It lasted less than a month, and he says he all of a sudden "came to his senses." We had been married 14 years and were pretty happy, or at least I was.

what about a third chance

Why should I give a THIRD chance to a spouse who has had an affair with the same coworker twice and refuses to give full disclosure? First time could have been a mistake (I repressed my feelings and gave the benefit of the doubt plus I had two little boys at home)BUT the second time is a CONCIOUS CHOICE. In this case, a really bad choice. And if I do decide to give a third chance, how do I know it won't happen again? I don't. It's been a whole year since Dday. I am trying to trust God with my spouse, but I am having such a hard time with trust and forgiveness STILL, I just don't know if a third chance is possible for me to give. It still just hurts so very much and I can't go through this again. I'm afraid it will kill me. My blood pressure has been at stroke level many times from the stress and I've lost over 30 pounds. My desire to do anything is gone. I can't sleep longer than 2 hours at a time. My heart just feels numb most of the time. Just getting out of bed to teach my students is a struggle, but luckily,once I get to school, they are the ones who take my mind off my troubles temporarily and give me a little normalcy. I don't really know why my husband cheated with the same person for a second time--the excuse he gave was incredibly lame--a really idiotic justification -- but the damage has been done. I don't know how to trust, respect, or believe him anymore. I feel like the past 35 years of my marriage has been a sham. i am devastated still, after a whole year. If he has wanted her twice, then he must love her. That is all I can figure out. Just haven't been able to pick up the phone and tell the lawyer to file. Dont' know why.

not understanding

I'm trying. I really am. I know you have helped thousands of couples. I hope someday I will understand the compartmentalization. It's going to be a tough sell. I guess God is already at work because he is staying my hand. Originally I was going to blast you about this cursory treatment of betrayal. (minimizing) But I realize there are as many reasons for affairs as readers, and as many means of betrayal as betrayers. You're not writing a book- you have limited space. So I guess what I really want to say is thank you for everything you do to help us. You do a great job. (God just turned criticism into praise and gratitude) Thank you for Harboring for Hope, for your EMS weekends and thanks for being available to counsel us. We need your help.

There is never a way to know if they deserve another chance

No one can tell the future. If we could, perhaps it would not have happened the first time. Maybe if I could see my marriage better and stronger 5 years from now, I could view the affair as the catalyst. If I could see that there would be another affair, despite our efforts to recover, I could feel confident in leaving. Unfortunately, right now feels awful; wondering if each day will be a new d-day; wondering when it will feel safe again. Seeing the hope is really hard through the veil of mistrust.

This is my first comment on

This is my first comment on this site but I felt the need to share. My husband of almost 20 years has been unfaithful twice in our marriage...the last Dday was about 8 months ago. I found out when I picked up his cell thinking his boss was sending him a text. What I found was a text from a woman telling him how much missed him. Needless to say I kicked him out. I went through his phone that night and found messages to different women and to his affair partner that really proved they had been having an affair for months...the most devastating part was reading how this woman told him, repeatedly, that she was "addicted" to him...and him telling her how much he loved her. For months he didn't communicate with me nor our children. Then he asked for a meeting. I sat across from this man whom I have loved for 22 years. He could not look at me and blamed me for his behavior...not once did he admit his affair with this woman even after I told him everything I read on his phone. He blames me for destroying our marriage. That was three months ago. He hasn't had any contact in two months and has blocked our children and me on Facebook. He has completely shut down and in the meanwhile, here I am, in our home with our children (two boys - 14 and 18) who are heartbroken and shattered having to take care of all expenses and all our affairs because he abandoned his family and responsibilities. He has cut off ties as a defensive mechanism and no longer acknowledges me or our children... Never thought that after living with this man for 22 years this would happen...what has made me face everyday is the love I have for our children and my faith in God...all my pain, suffering and disappointments have been put in His hands. I truly believe that God moves mountains - you just have to believe and love unconditionally in order to forgive. For all my family has gone through in the last three years since the discovery of the first affair, I want to believe we are where we need to be. As far as my husband goes, I don't know if he will ever have the courage to face me or our children or ever admit what he has done without blaming anyone else...I refuse to file for divorce only because I do not want out of our marriage...I have hope that one day he will find his way home just like I believe God moves mountains - it's just in His time and not mine.

forgiveness

Since the affair, now 3 years out, we have been separated. My husband has made no effort to restore any trust, even having a separate phone account. His affair partner told me the truth and she was 40 years younger and he was having her come to our home, even introducing her to our son, saying they were the same age and should see each other socially. I lied to our sons about me, trying to make himself the victim. And he was violent. Still, I feel that at 37 years of marriage I don't know if it is worth completely giving up on our marriage. I don't know what I feel. Most of the time I still feel contempt for the damage he did to our family and to my reputation in our family with such damaging lies to cover his own guilt. I realize that cheaters have their own type of psychology and also those who are betrayed go through a lot of the same emotions. It is a difficult and long journey. My husband's heart hardened terribly probably to insulate him from what he did. I don't know if I would even be safe with him anymore he holds such resentment toward me that I was not the guilty one. He wanted me to have all the shame AND the blame. I am not afraid of living without him. I guess I am more afraid of living with him and never feeling whole again and always hurting. Thank you for this format. It is helpful to read how others have healed or dealt with this terrible terrible pain.

Cheating sex addict

My husband of 30 years had a gay sex addiction. It went on for six years, starting after 20 years of marriage. I found out last spring. He told me he had contracted an std. He said it escalated from porn to anonymous m2m sex at a bookstore. I have been working on healing myself and he is dedicated to saving our marriage. We have made good progress. He has always been attracted to me and our sex life was good. I don't know what to make of this. Could he be in denial? Wouldn't I know? What if he needs both to satisfy him? I can't live with that. What if this is a perversion of sex addiction? Can he recover? He said he didn't really feel he was cheating because he did not have an affair with a women. I've been through the worst of this now and I'm working on myself and how I will live my future.

cheated

My husband and I have been married Almost 3 years. I have recently found out he cheated on me. He says he did not sleep with het anf whe. the girl started the act preformed he told her he could not go through with it. the next day told her off and told me. i would like to know if i am over reacting? i feel completely betrayed and devasted and embarrassed. I have put a walk up and cannot seem to come out of it. i have for 3 years put our relationship and him so high on a pedestal and now it feels like nothing. he has never made me wonder or think he would ever cheat on me. everyone could see it.."he only has eyes for you" he doesnt know why he did put himself in the situation that he did. we have 3 kids and i just dont have the slightest idea what to do..we had such a good relationship, were happy, even he said he was so happy, but then what? he wants to stay..but how can i believe him? how can i ever.get so close to him?- im sad..and broken, severely confused and worried about my babies futures...

My husband refuses to discuss

My husband refuses to discuss his affair with me, even after almost a year and a half later. Any information I've gotten has come out in bits and pieces. He claims that he had no feelings or attraction to his affair partner, how could he carry on a six month affair without being attracted. I don't buy it. I've allowed us a year to fix it, so far he hasn't even tried. I think it's time to go our separate ways.

What type of affair was it?

Our free Affair Analyzer provides you with insights about your unique situation and gives you a personalized plan of action.
Take the Affair Analyzer