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

Are They Lying About "Why?"

I thought Stephanie was cheating on me during our second year of marriage. Three days a week, after coming home from work, she would leave to go run with her manager, Dave. I just knew she was cheating on me. You may also want to know he was over thirty years her senior, overweight, newly divorced and his kids were older than she was.

Stephanie and I were living in a high-density area of Denver, CO while I attended graduate school. It wasn't safe for a woman to run after dark in that neighborhood. She asked me to run with her, but with temperatures dropping into the single digits I refused. When Dave, who lived in our same apartment complex, heard her say she was running in the evening after work he offered to go with her.

Confusing Motives

In retrospect, Dave was being protective of my wife and didn't want her running alone after dark, but 35 years ago my jealousy flared. Thankfully a good friend sat me down and said,

"Rick, Stephanie is not having an affair with Dave."

"Then why am I feeling so jealous?" I asked.

"Because if you were doing the same thing Stephanie is doing, your motivation would be to have an affair."

His statement hit me square in the chest. He was right. My jealousy flared because I was assuming Stephanie's motivations would be the same as my own. I was telling her what her motives were. I was telling her how she felt about things. I was even letting her know her own intentions, but none of my interpretations or accusations had any resemblance to Stephanie's reality. What I was trying to do was force my puzzle pieces into Stephanie's puzzle.

I use this analogy as an example to show how far off base I was even when nothing was going on. Can you imagine the difficulty of trying to understand when something actually has gone terribly wrong?

A crucial component to recovering from infidelity is developing a common history and a common understanding as to why it happened.

Without some understanding as to "why?" it's difficult to determine the probability of whether this could ever happen again. Without a willingness to understand "why?" it's also difficult to find empathy or compassion for the one who wounded us, and without empathy or compassion it's difficult to forgive.

Two Key Factors of Why

Two factors make it difficult to understand why someone was unfaithful. First, the betrayed spouse wants an answer that makes it easier to forgive, and second, it's hard to accept an answer that doesn't make sense. (This article is specifically for couples where both parties are involved in the recovery process.)

Many times I've seen the betrayed spouse outright reject whatever insights the unfaithful spouse discovers in recovery and/or counseling as to why they did it. It makes no difference how many or how good their answers are, it's never enough.

The "why?" question is complex.

It can be examined from multiple perspectives: social learning, moral justifications, cultural norms, psychodynamics, spirituality, mental illness, object relations, etc. . . Each of these are a part of the puzzle, but for some betrayed spouses no answer is satisfactory unless it provides a logical explanation for what happened. But there is never a good enough excuse to explain betrayal away. It would be far easier to forgive if there were a good reason (such as they had a stroke and it was the result of brain damage), but that's just not the case. You don't have to hold someone accountable for what they've done if there's a good enough excuse, but there's never a justifiable reason for doing that to someone.

The answer to "why?" can highlight changes that need to be made to prevent this from ever happening again, but I'm not sure you can find a good enough why to make it easier to forgive what they have done.

The second barrier to understanding "why?" comes from not considering anything other than our own subjective reality. We continually try to force our puzzle pieces into our mate's puzzle because their puzzle doesn't make sense to us. Both parties in recovery need to try and understand their mate's reality and search for the points where they agree rather than getting stuck on the areas where they differ.

Just because your mate doesn't see things from your perspective doesn't mean they're lying.

Try to be open to seeing it how they see it, even if it doesn't make sense to you. When you do that, it makes the other person far more open to listening to your perspective and finding parts of your perspective that make sense to them. Focusing on what does make sense allows opportunity to build a common understanding of "why?" Telling the other person why they did it and what they are feeling will show them your puzzle, but will have nothing to do with their puzzle.

It takes time to develop a common understanding as to why.

Maybe You Shouldn't Be Further Along?

A major mistake made by most couples, is believing things should be happening quicker than they are. It takes time for wounds to heal and perceptions to change. I believe the most expedient path to understanding "why?" beyond your own perspective is participating in a support group with other couples. You might not be able to believe it when your mate shares their perspective, but witnessing similar dynamics in other couples can help you see that there may be truth in what they're saying. Working together with others provides an opportunity for you and your mate to develop a deeper understanding as to "why?"

If you are a betrayed spouse looking for community and direction on this healing journey, I hope you'll consider signing up for Hope Rising, our one-day conference for betrayed spouses in October. Unable to make it to Austin, Texas? Purchase the live stream option so you can join from the comfort of your own home!

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Won't try to figure out why?

What suggestions do you have when your mate won't try to figure out "why"? I am the betrayed spouse and these are the answers I have gotten to the why question: because there was a sexual attraction (for affairs 1 and 2) for affair number 3 I just get I don't know. So I have asked what justifications did you use to allow yourself to continue the affairs? Answer I don't know. Next question I have asked did you feel guilty? Yes so what did you tell yourself to justify continuing the behavior if you felt guilty? Answer I don't know.
And so here we sit a year and half after the last d-day stuck.
Any suggestions? I will take suggestions from anyone.

I hear "I don't know" ask the

I hear "I don't know" ask the time here. I can't offer any advice myself but just wanted you to know that you're not alone.

Why?

I'm in the same spot. 42 years of marriage and I find he's been cheating with prostitutes along with several affairs in between. When I ask why he says "I don't know why", just sex. He finally confessed he's also had an affair with a woman I considered a friend for the last 4 years. He tells me it was just sex. REALLY! It's been 4 months and I'm still numb, angry, and hurt. I'm not sure I can get over this betrayal.
Any suggestions?

Suggestion

The online program here is great. Also if this has been an on going problem and he is a sex addict find professional help!! Call affair recovery.

Possible reasons for I don't know responses

Being that I was the cheater in my relationship, perhaps I am sort of qualified (not the same gender as your husband) to answer? I know I said I don't know and there are three things to consider on why a response like that is given:
1. Truly doesn't know and is not a person to self-reflect.
2. Has self reflected; does know but is self correcting now. Wants to leave the past in the past because it cannot be changed; only the present and the future are changeable.
3. Does know but is scared that your knowing all the ugliness will cause end of relationship; having one more so-so day with you is so much better than getting kicked out and having no day whatsoever with you.

According to some of the websites I read the last two indicate that trust is a problem in the relationship. Of course, the betrayeds know this first hand as we cheaters have lied to you. But it is revealing that we unfaithfuls also don't trust you, the betrayed, either. We may think that you are not strong enough to handle the truth of our true nature. We unfaithful want some element of control and still have a chance at a relationship. So the I dunno becomes a coward's way of controlling the amount of pain that might happen. We think if we know our why's and are self-correcting, there is no need for you to ever know just how messed up inside we are. After all, who in their right mind, would hang around someone who is so effed-up? First, we will try to prove that we can re-train ourselves and then some day, when we think we have proved ourselves to be totally different than the ones who lived a lie(s) for some time, we will trust you enough to tell you just why we did what we did, how we did it, and when it started going wrong. But from our actions you'll know that we don't want to do it again and haven't ever repeated those mistakes.

Perhaps the easiest analogy is that we know we did wrong on many levels, probably more than you know or will ever know about, but on the same token, we, like puppy dogs, don't want to get beaten on the nose with a newspaper to correct us after we peed on the floor with the brand new white carpeting. We want to punish ourselves and correct ourselves because we don't want to have a fear of newspaper, we just want to re-train ourselves to doing that which is expected of us.

Trust

As a betrayed, you hit the nail on the head with the trust issue. Not only did I lack trust in my husband, he had lost trust in me. This not only let to the affair, but exacerbated it. When the reveals happened last year, we figured that party out quickly - my husband opened up about everything: the ugly, the crushing, the unbelievable. The lack of trust in the relationship was the true problem, and we have been rebuilding it over the past year.

Thank you for this

Thank you for this explanation Katherine! I keep getting the "I don't know why" response and I feel this really explains a lot.

Thank you, I suspected these

Thank you, I suspected these reasons on an intuitive level... I can tell he never anticipated how traumatized I would be. When it shows he looks like the whipped puppy so I make sure I have more good days than bad days. Truth about ourselves is always wincing matter unfaithful or betrayed. Constantly wailing and bemoaning our hurts does not create a safe space for unfaithful to bear their souls. We are so busy seeking to be understood we forget to understand.

Thanks for your input, Katherine

Your comments were helpful to me. Thank you.

Thank you.

Katherine
Thank you for your answer. I think it is a combination of the 3 things. However, it makes me feel as though my recovery is being controlled. I realize trust is a two way street, so is safety. I am working to be "safer" by being more approachable, calmer during conversations, and not attacking. But I am truly afraid until the questions are answered to at least a certain degree and the self reflexion is done healing will never be complete.

I don't know why

I understand your points, especially #1 and #2, but it is no help to recovery. Why someone would put everything they have worked for and have "loved" on the line for no other reason than "because it was there and it was just physical" gives nothing to the betrayed spouse but mistrust. It sounds like nothing but a cop-out. As an unfaithful spouse, if you truly want to rebuild what you have destroyed, take responsibility, accountability and honesty for your actions. Help to heal the pain you have caused by proving your trustworthiness and thoughtfulness, by proving your willingness to look at yourself and by examining the reasons "why". You may think you are being harassed but, from the other side, you are giving your spouse something to rationalize and to helpfully work with. If you want repair, then help to figure out what needs to be fixed.

Makes sense. But......

I agree 100% with your post. The unfaithful says they do not know "why" when they really do but do not want the punishment that goes along with cheating. The unfaithful thinks they can "self-correct", as you said.
Well I don't know if you noticed or not but everything you said is about the unfaithful and their feelings, wants and desires! Never once did you mention what the betrayed might need.
Selfishness is what got the unfaithful into this mess. It is time for unfaithfuls to start manning (no pun intended) up to what they have done and give more than they take.
Yes, talking about the affair is upsetting. No one wants to feel shame or have their nose rubbed in it, but wrong is wrong. As children we learn that we must accept punishment when we do wrong. The unfaithful know prior to entering into an affair that what they are doing is wrong, then they get caught and their instinct is to run from having their nose rubbed in it.
I guarantee, if the shoe were on the other foot, this same person would be a lot less forgiving.
It is immaturity and selfishness, plain and simple.
A person who really cared about their spouse would at this point only care about the hurt that they caused and not about their own shame. I don't buy any of that "I don't know why" crap.

"My jealousy flared because I

"My jealousy flared because I was assuming Stephanie’s motivations would be the same as my own. I was telling her what her motives were. I was telling her how she felt about things. I was even letting her know her own intentions, but none of my interpretations or accusations had any resemblance to Stephanie’s reality."

I am so guilty of this. The problem is I can't trust that my husband is being honest about his motivation or intentions behind his why. I think he's even lying to himself. He admits what he did was wrong and a betrayal but his intention behind his actions makes no sense at all. When you make a decision to keep a woman a secret from your wife, meet her in middle of the night for drinks and gambling, list her under a different contact name and text her right under my nose 100 + times a day, delete parts of messages, share secrets with her...it's pretty clear what his intentions were. His explanation is he just wanted someone to play blackjack with. And he says that with a serious face. It's been 2 years and he still sticks to that story. Part of me thinks he really has convinced himself that that is all it was. I will never accept that answer though. It's insulting on so many levels.

infidelity

My husband was having a affair for 2 years.I found out after 3 months and he said it was finished.1 year later i found out he contacted her.I kicked him out.11 weeks later he came back in that time away he would text me how sorry he was and text and ring the children to say the same.Said he has nothing to do with her since he left.Then I found numerous things of evidence denied all of it and lied continuously.Next time I saw his phone on charge and thought I would look at,it was another phone just for her looks exactly like his other the phone.I read everything.Kicked him out again.This time for 3 months.He said it was finished with her as he has had a wake up call.I have since had him back because of his wake up call.Unfortunately I am not fine through this now as I have a lot of trouble trusting him.What he did before was so clever in the way he acted towards me and treated me that I find very hard if his still seeing her.

my "why?"

This hits the nail on the head. Through counseling, study and faith; My "why?" is (now) very clear to me. My own failures, history and biases were multiplied by the issues and circumstances in our 'day-to-day' that led me into the destructive pattern. For me every piece of the puzzle fits perfectly. It was the "perfect storm". It's been over 7 years since discovery - but because my "why?" does not excuse my infidelity, my wife sees round pieces shoved into square holes in the puzzle. And because my "why?" does not excuse my infidelity, any consideration of the part she played in the 'day-to-day' (no matter how small) is off the table. But that is part of MY puzzle.
Our recovery is progressing, although I we have plateaued because my "why?" has not changed. It will never offer a valid excuse and that is what she is still searching for. A "why?" that makes it OK... But it never will be OK.

Why

I understand your wife completely. As the betrayed, listening to the "why" doesn't excuse the act of infidelity. I accept I had a part to contribute to the day to day issues of the relationship, but why your partner decides to act out by way of infidelity just because the relationship was too hard, had issues, you argued, some things you weren't on the same page, time with the kids overrode time together, all the usual stuff, is not the why they commit adultery. That's the why they give you. But they are all externalities. Until the infidel looks deep inside themselves and finds the true why, nothing will change. And like your wife, until I can understand and believe an authentic why, then it will be just another life's greatest mysteries that I am not prepared to entertain. Good luck, because this stuff changes people forever.

A betrayed spouse doesn't play any part of infidelity.

A betrayed spouse doesn't play any part of infidelity.

Why

I have my "why" and it's a very good "why". My heart bleeds for my partner and what happened to him in his past. However, that doesn't change how he chose to treat me and how that treatment changed the very core of who I am. He claims o have seen the light since D Day but he has a very, very long road ahead of him before I even consider investing any part of myself in him again. Nonetheless, as a result of this experience, I am actually stronger and smarter than I was beforehand. I am grateful for the lesson.

Why?

Why is there a need for a “why”? This is a character issue. There can be a million reasons. There is NO excuse. I don’t care WHY - what a bloody waste of time trying to figure that out. Why did he cheat? Because he did. Why did I not? Because I took vows.

A point of view for you

I felt compelled to respond to this post because I feel that your going to miss a valuable lesson that will probably repeat itself again.

My wife was molested by her stepdad when she was13. Fastforward into 16 years of marriage and you’re left with a sexless marriage full of triggers that creates more repulsive events.

For men, I believe, it’s mostly a physical thing. I realized that as much as I was deprived of the physical sex that I needed, I ended up becoming a person that was not very kind or empathetic.

You have to look in the mirror on this as much as it pains you. You may discover something.

Excellent reply

I agree totally

Why “why” is important

I have to laugh at myself any time I try to post because my post get soo long.
My thought as to why we keep asking WHY is because the UH just showed the betrayed spouse that all her/his insecurities are TRUE. The UH just proved we ARE not pretty too fat and too old. And when we NOW ask WHY it’s because the IH is not doing enough to repair that damage - the UH is now telling us where they are all day but they are acting like they did before they cheated. That was NOT enough back then but you were given a “pass” on your boorish behavior because we trusted you and loved you. Now you are not trusted and “love” is way different now. So now I want to see some serious romantic effort on the UH part and it isn’t happening. Somehow he thinks that all he needs to do is tell me where he is and let me track him on the gps and all should be ok. He did that before but realized I could not SEE what he was doing when he was where he said he was / he just had her with him and they continued their bs as he insisted he was doing EVERYTHING to save our marriage. He was SAVING our marriage by continuing his affair to keep her from telling me and he was SAVING our marriage by continuing to lie deceive and cheat. He insists this was the ONLY reason he continued his affair. I’m asking - does anyone believe this story? Am I being unreasonable and pushing my puzzle pieces into his story by not believing this story? Am I being unreasonable when I find this “explanation” as insulting? He told this girl (half his age) every day how much he loved her. He bought her gifts and took her on trips when I was out of town for work. After I found his second secret phone I see him sending her texts telling her everything we were doing which then upset her and made her immediately want to meet up with him to “talk” and that always meant sex. I see how he was manipulating both of us. Triangulation is what it is called. Now the gaslighting has been ramped up - insists I don’t remember what he said.
I know this article said it was for when BOTH spouses are fully into recovery stage but I can see my UH reading this and then telling me that I just need to accept his “explanations” and how I am not doing my part in making our marriage better.
So PLEASE make that notation at the top of the article in BOLD CAPS in 16 pt type. Then put it after every paragraph and at the end of the article too. And if you could add more definition as to what “recovery” means - like not blaming the betrayed spouse for anything, as accepting that you were not a good husband while you were having your affair and all reasons for the affair were for your own selfish reasons and you were not thinking of your spouse’ feelings at any time other than to make yourself feel better about being a lying cheater. Maybe add hyperlinks to the articles that attempt to explain this to the “selfish, defensive, in denial” UH who still only reads what supports his selfish ego.
Thanks for reading this much. Keep writing / it is very beneficial.

I CAN TOTALLY RELATE TO WHY THE "WHY" IS IMPORTANT POST

I can totally relate to the post Why "Why" is important. I am still in this recovery phase and it's only been about a year an a half. I remember asking my husband "WHY" all the time in the very beginning of finding out about his affair. His answers made absolutely NO sense to me. During that time he was having an affair, I recall exactly how our marriage was. It wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible. It was a seasonal time. We had two small children close in age and life was a routine and we were a team in everything we did. I truly felt he was on the same page as me the entire time, because we would talk and we would discuss how unhappy we both were around the time before and during his affair, but we came to the conclusion that it was a seasonal time and that with time it would get better.Or so I thought we were on the same page. Anyways...my details in my husband's affair aren't what matters, but its the WHY, that kills me. If he told me at any given point that he found someone else attractive, or was losing interest in me and interested in someone else, I could honestly swallow that and accept it. I could take him being bored with our lives and wanting to feel excitement from being in a NEW relationship. I just HATE the lying. I HATE the way he carried on like nothing was going on. I HATE how he erased every message between them because he knew deep down, that what he was doing, was wrong. But he was too selfish to include me on his new relationship, because in the end he just wanted his cake and to eat it too. And honestly his reasons he gives me just don't add up and don't make ANY sense. He says it's because there wasn't enough sex, or because he felt I was too busy for him, or that he felt I was always unhappy and nothing he did made me happy. And the funniest thing is, I felt the same way towards him. I too felt we weren't having enough sex, and I too felt his schedule was busier than mine and he did extra activities for his hobby, and then I always felt he was unhappy with me no matter what I did. BUT WE AGREED IT WAS A SEASON because are girls were so young and it just was difficult. But if he just put in half the effort he did with that girl, or if he just made any gesture in the way he did for her, it would have made such a difference. And here I go, writing a novel as a post. His WHY is important to my healing because I TOO was unhappy with how our relationship was, but I remembered I made vows and I remembered that this was only a season and hoped it would get better. The only way his WHY would makes sense is if he tried to tell me what he was about to do, instead of hiding it and staying married to me while forming a new relationship with another woman. That just makes NO SENSE! How can anyone do that? It sickens me because now he wants to fix us and work towards helping me heal. But now a year and a half later, his WHY only angers me more, and I'm tired of being angry. His affair has nothing to do with me, because HE made the choice to lie. He made the choice to cheat, and he made the choice to break our vows. His actions cut deep and I'm still struggling to trust him even though he has made huge changes and efforts to prove he wants this marriage. I'm still so very hurt and in the healing process.

I read your post and felt

I read your post and felt like I was reading my own thoughts and writing. The only difference is we had sex all the time great sex...but the rest is o much our story and I could have cheated too but didn’t because I took vows just like you and this is the first time I see a post or response that makes me feel “better” in terms that I’m not the only one who went through this and your story sounds like ours.

The why

I can relate to your post sooooo much! Your story is so similar to mine. I too am a year and a half from D day. I too am trying to heal but still very angry. I assumed we were just in a hard season, busy with kids, jobs, life. He never let on that anything was wrong or that he was unhappy. I was totally blindsided and it still doesn’t make sense. We have been to counselling and he has been doing everything to try to fix what has been broken. I am tired of feeling angry and sad. I hold on to hope that these feelings will lesson with more time. The scar will always be there and I still struggle to accept my new reality.

I’m here right with you..

I was reading through the comments and found myself glued to every word in yours. Everything you describe is almost identical to my experience. Life was good then, not great, but that’s every marriage. I figured we were just in a season of monotony caused by everyday life but still had fun together and good times. By no means was the marriage miserable. We would talk about things that bothered us and then BOTH agree to work on them, so during our last talk, I assumed that the issue was resolved (that’s we’d BOTh work on it) and I started working on my side of things. Only to find that he was not working on things with me he was working on things for himself with someone else to fulfill his needs for over 6 months. I was trying to give him what I thought he needed, and what I needed he was instead giving to somebody else, Who was in turn with her own motives feeding his insecurities, making herself appear to be the answer to his needs, and giving him all of the great attention and ego fluffing that he wanted...causing MY efforts to go unnoticed. They both made sure that I never had a fighting chance to stop it. All the time that he invested in her (and himself) all the kind words that he said to her, all the effort that he put in...even just 1/10th of that effort, if he had given to me could’ve changed and prevented all this irreparable destruction and agonizing pain that he caused to our life and our family. I look back and I still feel like such a stupid idiot for even trying, for thinking that we were still on the same page working with & for eachother, for believing every stupid word that came out of his mouth and trusting him completely...for believing and Trusting that he was still the same man that I married, The man I chose at 24 years old
to bond my life, the man with integrity and the man who made me feel safe. The man who convinced me and that I trusted to protect me at all costs from anything that could possibly ever cause me harm, and lo and behold he used my trust as a weapon to make it easy to get away with his affair for so long and he used my trust as a weapon to inflict the worst harm & pain on me that I’ve ever experienced in my life. I feel like I never knew him at all. I trusted him so completely, and he knew I did, and because of that he honestly “knew” he could get away with it for as long as he wanted. But he was so stupid and egotistical. It always gets “found it”! Unfortunately for me I didn’t see it coming and my life shattered in an instant!

I feel like he sold me a bill of goods… And I bought it....and look at what that got me! I feel like our first 11 years together building a life and a family and a home, didn’t mean a damn thing! The most painful thing about it all for me is that I look at him now, and he looks exactly like the man that I fell in love with, the man that became my whole world, my team mate in life..my best friend, the man I trusted with my life.... and it pains me because this man also looks exactly like the man who destroyed me, killed my spirit with with pain that I never knew I could feel, makes me feel scared about my future, and question everything that I ever believed in! Things I needed to believe in to feel safe and content in this world.... he ripped that away from me. They steal everything from you and then they want it all back. They want you to forgive and move on..to a better, happier life with them!!? I grieve for my old life, I grieve for the old me, I grieve for the old him, and I grieve the innocence of our marriage. These things we can NEVER get back. I want you to know I am here right with you. The only difference is that we have five children and I’m three years post Dday. But I couldn’t agree more with everything you say here. I don’t want to use the word refreshing , but for me it helps to know that after the 1000’s of articles and posts I’ve read, that there is another wife out there who’s experience mirrors mine..and I’m sorry that this happened to you too. :(

We are all in the same boat.....yet drowning

I have read both of your comments and I feel exactly the same way! I am almost 3 1/2 years from the discovery of my husbands affair but, true d-day just happened last October 2018. As you both said, my marriage was good, not great but, good. We were married for 18 years before he decided that he deserved to have an affair, to have his cake and eat it too. We have only one child but, unfortunately, he was starting his freshman year in high school when I found out about the affair. Our son over heard a conversation I was having with my husband on the phone about his “girlfriend,” I didn’t know that my son was in the next room listening to our phone call. So needless to say, I now had to deal with the devastation of finding out about my husbands affair, and my son finding out about it too......all at the same time. I had to put away my pain of the affair, to now deal with the shock and pain my son was dealing with too. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for my son to get over it (being I didn’t divorce my husband, or kick him out). We are still together, we went through the EMSO online course and are now doing the continuation “married for life.” It is still somewhat painful, but is getting easier. He has shown a lot of improvement and change; however, there are days that we do have setbacks. I am not one that believes in or likes to take any type of medications, but have been on an antidepressant for several months now and it has helped me tremendously. I too thought I had married my true love, my soulmate, my best friend. I thought, as u both did, that we were, for the most part, on the same page with our marriage /life. I thought I married a man with strong moral values and beliefs, a man with strong integrity, a faithful man that I never dreamed that would hurt me to the depths of my soul. I have come to the belief that the men that give that strong outward appearance are weak inside. That they have low self esteem, and lots of issues. We all come into a relationship with “baggage,” but as a couple, your supposed to work on it together. As one of you stated, I too could have had an affair; however, I believe and stand for the vows I took, and the commitment of being married. My husband had the messed up thought that because of all
He had done for me and our son, that he felt he deserved to have had his affair. Of course he now has realized all that he did, all that his affair could have cost him, and how much it has truly hurt me / our marriage. Funny how once they get caught, they now want to work on our marriage and saving it. Anyhow, I wanted to respond to your posts and to let you know that if you truly want to try and rebuild your marriages, that it is possible, but not easy at all. I highly recommend, if you haven’t already, seek marriage counseling, (one that truly deals with infidelity) the EMSO online course, and watch many of the videos. I also recommend watching Christian based Videos by a minister by the name of Jimmy (and wife, Karen) Evans. As they always say on affair recovery - to healing.

Relate to the why

I see and feel all of the things you are describing. He felt, “we were just roommates “. I had said for YEARS that I needed date nights and to feel special to him. He never listened, but sure had no problem investing time and energy into a new relationship with another woman. I struggle with hearing how if we would have had more sex and if I showed him some appreciation then he wouldn’t have cheated. I didn’t think our marriage was great, but also thought it was a season, and we stood before God and family and made vows!!
I’m at a loss, I still cry all of the time. His “why” is what he told himself to justify his disgusting actions.

"roommates" is the worst "why" ever

You are the first to say exactly what my UH told his AP about our marriage...."we are just like roommates." Did I feel that way too? Absolutely. But I didn't run to the arms of another man. The AP says he told her he was living in our basement. He says he didn't say that, but I don't fully believe him. Why else would she be suspicious that he was still coming to see me, and track him down...and fess up to me? I'm 7 weeks from Dday and still waiting for a real "why". Yeah, we weren't happy, but there's more to it deep down, I'm sure of it. He hasn't been happy for a long time..."why haven't you been?" "I don't know." ...Because you don't deal with your emotions; you pack them down as far as you can.

Why?

Thank you so much for your post! You put into words what I’ve been feeling for so long. I am also 1 1/2 years D day. The why I got was very easy to believe so I don’t struggle with that. He stated that he was selfish, plain and simple. What resounded so loudly to me was the part that you weren’t happy either! Obviously I wasn’t happy but I did not do the things that he did to cope with my unhappiness. I did not choose to destroy someone the way he did in my unhappiness. My greatest question isn’t why but HOW!?! How could you be so cruel in your selfishness? To me being selfish is “I’m not going to do the dishes tonight.” Not completely devastate someone’s entire identity. To cause the mental anguish that lasts forever and leaves you feeling so broken that you don’t even know who you are anymore. To constantly search for answers to a question that is genuinely unanswerable and go around that in-sane merry-go-round day after day. His decisions caused me to question how I could believe someone lying straight to my face every day for years. And now that it’s all out in the open, and all the apologies have been spoken, we are just supposed to MoveOn just like that right? So why is is it not that simple for me? He caused this pain and the hard reality is that I alone have to figure out a way to heal myself while he gets the best of both worlds! So whether we stay together, or we get divorced, I’m the one that loses both ways. So for me the greater question is truly how? He’s not the only one that is broken, lonely, and sad but that doesn’t give you a pass to make the world’s worst decisions ever. And cause me to dislike someone I’ve never even met and bring them in between US where she doesn’t belong and is not welcomed!
I am grateful for affair recovery mainly because it showed me that I am not alone in my suffering. And to all the betrayed, my heart breaks for the suffering that we share. But to the unfaithful, no matter how sincere and genuine your remorse is, know this... nothing that you say or do can ever undo the damage that has been done. And until you have felt that kind of pain, you truly CANNOT comprehend the anguish caused by your selfishness!
I welcome the day when this pain doesn’t exist anymore and all our tears are gone!

Numb and angry

Word for word, your post touched me. The only thing I want to add is this: I feel like I’ve numbed myself to the importance and intimacy of sex in a relationship. I don’t understand how a person claims to be committed and then is capable of having sex with another person. How do you not stop yourself. Have I thought about cheating, of course, do I find other men attractive, of course, did I have an affair, NO! My marriage meant something to me. My partnership meant something to me. His feelings meant something to me. Now I’m numb. I don’t enjoy anything. He took my love of being a mother away, he took away my love of being a wife, best friend and lover away. I don’t know how to get it back. I’m angry all the time and don’t let him see it because “We’re trying to move forward”. I just want to run away and start my life over. I feel hopeless and resentful.

I knew “why” from the moment of “discovery”

Of all the challenges I have faced since discovery this (why) was not one of them. I knew why and he confirmed it. He felt entitled (and continues to feel entitled). He makes more money and has a bigger profile. He has more “fans” if you will.

Why

I’ve heard the same as you - entitled, egotistical, stressed - and my response is “SO WHAT?” It’s life, it’s what YOU made it and life isn’t always a bed of roses. If you knew these things were going on in your mind and you were overwhelmed, you knew I was there to talk to you, to help you figure things out, just like I always was. But for some reason you took those insane justifications to find relief in some one else’s bed because it was easy and available - and you did it with purpose and with intent even though you knew it was wrong. And I get to hear that you liked it and didn’t think of the consequences because you were too busy. Now he gets upset because I won’t believe what he tells me, that I have the audacity to question what he says. How do you look at someone that you’ve been with for years, the father of your children, the friend you went through the trenches with - and remember what they so deliberately did for their own self satisfaction - and feel loved, feel respected, feel seen? I just feel defeated, used, taken for granted and numb to this total disappointment of a man......

Why?

I am still grasping for the why. My husband cannot give me a clear cut answer other than a rush to have a young woman chase him. Whether it is a mid-life crisis or what. I am devastated and do not know if I will ever get over this. We were in counseling for a while. Not sure it helped me. The hardest thing was I thought our marriage was great. (I guess he thought something was missing, although won't admit to it.) We have been married 38 years and have been through a lot. This was something that was totally out of character for him. Now I wonder. Were there others that I was blind to? I just don't see how you can to profess to love someone and cheat on them?
It has been 6 mos. since he last had contact with the AP. I do not trust him for one minute although have no reason to believe anything is going on. I am a pretty good actor letting on that everything is fine. It is not. I love him, we are friends and I sure hope I can get past this someday. I am tired of the anger and disgust I have. I would love to hear some ideas about what to do to get beyond this.
Bless each and everyone of you who are going through this. I would not wish this on anyone. I have never experienced this kind of pain and disappointment. Thank you for the good comments. I appreciate those more than the weekly newsletter.

Learning My Why

I am the betrayed. My husband has shared his vision of why, although it shallow and unexplored in my opinion. I have moved past his why to my own. We are 18 months post second DDay and we are making taking some steps to heal but I am stuck in the mud of anger and resentment that hasn't budged much in the last 6 months for me. We did EMSO (at my request and research (he wasn't interested in spending the money on the weekend) he bought some books that clutter his side of the bedroom mostly unopened. He put up a good face but didn't make an efforts to venture into the deep end of this pool at all. He bends over backwards serving up acts of service even though I have told him that is not my currency.

When I explore the WHY, I am now looking at my own WHY. Why do I accept what I do, why do I keep the anger, why do I tolerate the luke-warm effort? Why do I sit on the fact that given this state of affairs in our marriage he will likely do this again. he feels like a failure and I feel he has failed me, not in the infidelity but in his commitment to growth and prevention. Yet, I stay. I suck it up and deal. I am smarter now and understand the potential but don't know what the next move is so I just don't move. I refuse to track him or chase his behavior yet I'm convinced he will seek out attention from a place less critical.

I wonder about the why of the betrayed spouse. Has anyone out there been stuck in understanding your why as the betrayed partner? Sometimes I wonder if its just laziness or cowardice on my part ?

Right there with you

I feel the same way. I am so tired of being angry and questioning his every move. I wonder what is wrong with me? I always told myself that infidelity was something I would never tolerate, yet here I am. I love my husband and I know he loves me. He just didn't love me enough to be true to our vows. Do I think he could cheat again? Absolutely. I am just waiting for it to happen again.
I am giving him and myself a year to make a decision. I too have wondered if it is laziness or cowardice on my part. If we divorced, I would be fine. I can survive without him. It's just been hard coming to any kind of decision. (Sometimes I feel for my mental and physical health it would be better to end this marriage.) We will see what happens.
Blessings to you and hope we can all gain some peace.

Same

I am in exactly the same boat. It’s been over two years since I found out about my husband‘s affair. His affair, according to him, had been over for more than two years at that point but apparently his affair partner wasn’t willing to let go and was trying to stay in touch so I found out . We have been in therapy and I have been in individual therapy. He wants to be able to just say he’s sorry and he will never do it again and I’m supposed to except that and be happy. Only it’s not working. I don’t understand how he could have been so selfish. He lied so many times that now I doubt everything he says. I would be fine without him but I don’t want to be divorced. I don’t want to be the one to make the decision to tear my family apart. But it feels like not making that decision means I live the rest of my life unhappy. We get along fine, we can enjoy each other‘s company. I just can’t get past what he did and I don’t know how to find peace of mind anymore.

I am with you

I won't drag this out but a woman came after my husband. The unreal thing about it to me, is her ex cheated... so how can a woman who knows the agony, cause it for someone else. I would not do this to my worst enemy. Of course, he is at fault for the affair and he knows it. But the AP I cannot let that go either!

I agree

I am with you on that. The AP that my husband had an affair with supposedly had been cheated on before. So how can you do that to another woman? Knowing that my husband was married to begin with, and that we had a child, yet, still wanting to have an affair with him. Not caring how their affair could / would affect me and ruin my family! She too was married when their affair started. Supposedly, my husband had told her that he was married and not ever going to leave me; however, about half way through their affair, she filed for a divorce from her husband! Hmmm, tells me that she was wanting and hoping he would leave me foe her!! My husband tells me that as the affair was coming to an end, they had both agreed that it needed to end. The AP told my husband, before the affair ended, that she wanted more, that the affair wasn’t going the way she wanted.
I told my husband after D-day, that she had given him so many hints that she basically wanted him to leave me and be with her! How was he so blind not to have seen any of her “hints” or “remarks?”
The answer to “why” he had an affair is something I will never understand.....having a girlfriend and a wife, having his cake and eat it too, made him feel “above average, like a rockstar.” That things she said to him (as did I) boosted his ego. Yet, things I said to him didn’t seem to mean anything to him. That he was being selfish, and it had absolutely nothing to do with me. I definitely don’t understand how someone who says they love you can do the ultimate sin and have an affair on you?? The hardest part I guess I am having, is how can someone be so selfish if they love you? Not caring or worrying if you find out about the affair and how it will not only affect your marriage, (18 years at that time) but how devastating it would be to your wife as well. That I don’t understand and am still having a hard time dealing with, on top of the affair of course.

His lies

The only way to describe it is woman's intuition. Each of the 5 affairs my narrassis husband has had I knew. And when that gnawing feeling hit i would investigate. I would even ask hey is something going on? Please be honest so we can work through it. Please don't lie because I can't/won't stop until I have proof and it will drive me nuts...no nothing I love you etc...so I looked I went over the edge only for him to say this us why i do this because of you. And i took it. Until the last one when i actually packed up t re answered my job and moved back to my hometown. Yes he followed and I gave it thought and for the 1st time stood my ground made guidelines of what I would /wouldn't accept or it was done for good. I would ask once if I had the feeling and if lied to I would not get mad. I would not fight. I would not cry. I would be done. It's been 2 years and everything has been good with the exception of being put on a leave from work due to injury. It has made the past year stressful as expected. Then a few months ago I had that knot. Ok I am not myself due to my work, injury, doctors, lawyers...ok your just being insecure. Hard as I tried to make excuses I couldn't anymore. So I asked and he said no. He also had his issue since he was tired. He has been only income with our large family and has been working 60+ hours a week. Ok and then things started to get really good between us. We were communicating better. Getting out more together without 1 or 7 of the kids. Yep it was still there that gnawing. So even though there was no way because not only was his times pay etc adding up he was always home,visually asleep but home...I gave it a peek. Phone computer and there was something that didn't add up. So I looked some more and started to pay attention. Phone calls and web activity were not matching it was on computer but not phone. I asked he got angry (RED FLAG) and he calmed down said why are you so insecure leave the past alone. I kept finding same things but wouldn't completely confirm the info . Didn't want to maybe was just tired of it all. Still confused to point I thing I'm going crazy. Now I've noticed phone data turned off to sync with computer and what the heck...I dont know what your talking about I dont even know how to do that kind of stuff. Not knowing who to believe anymore me or me I'm going to go away for a few days and clear my head. How will I know what the truth is and reguardless I'd I'm wron shouldn't I let us both off the hook?? I just dont believe I can believe him anymore no matter what...Yvette 22 years down the drain

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