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

Why Couples Fail After an Affair: Part 1 - Not Knowing What Happened

Why Couples Fail After an Affair: A Four Part Series

Part 1: Not Knowing What Happened
Part 2: Not Getting It
Part 3: Denying Your Reality
Part 4: Failure to Grieve

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"What's left in darkness is under the power and control of that very same darkness"


How to Practically Obliterate Any Opportunity for Restoration

When a spouse is kept in the dark regarding the details of their spouse's affair, it's similar to feeling trapped in darkness, trying to find their way out. People naturally try to understand the events of their life. Until we are able to make sense of these events, a part of us continues trying to solve the mystery. If a spouse withholds information regarding their secret life, how long do you think someone who's been devastated by betrayal will spend trying to find the answer to their questions?

Solving this mystery is a key factor for success in re-establishing trust and surviving infidelity.

Without understanding what has happened, there is no way for the betrayed spouse to assess the level of damage and the probability of future success. Until the unfaithful spouse extends trust to their mate by sharing what happened, it is difficult for the betrayed spouse to rebuild trust. People are more than capable of getting over a betrayal, but continued deception leaves no path for trust and obliterates the opportunity for restoration.

A Coherent Story: How To Calm Emotional 'Flooding'

A substantial difficulty for couples recovering from infidelity is the emotional flooding created by the trauma after an affair. Infidelity creates a pain like no other, and difficulty regulating the ensuing emotions is not only common but to be expected. Emotional regulation and stability are created through what is called a coherent story. Up until the point where "what has happened" makes sense to the betrayed spouse, emotions run rampant, confusion rules the day, and the heart of the betrayed remains frayed. Understanding what happened provides a safe foundation on which they can eventually begin to rebuild. (Please keep in mind, this step in the process takes a significant deal of time and cannot be rushed). Empathy from the unfaithful spouse (which we'll address in a moment) is necessary to encourage healing.


To move forward, couples need to come to an understanding of their history. Regardless of the type of affair (i.e. emotional affair, one-night stand, pornography addiction, etc.), the story of what has happened needs to make sense to both husband and wife. As I work with couples that are stuck, not knowing what happened seems to be the number one culprit.

I appreciate the work done by the late Peggy Vaughan in her e-book Help for Therapists (and Their Clients).

She hypothesized: A couple is more likely to stay married after an affair when they thoroughly discuss the whole situation.

55% of those who discussed the situation very little were still married (living together).

78% of those who discussed the situation a good bit were still married (and living together).

86% of those who discussed the situation a lot were still married (and living together).

She concluded that the amount the affair was discussed with the betrayed partner was significantly associated with present marital status.

A second hypothesis stated: A couple is more likely to stay married when the unfaithful spouse answers the questions of the betrayed spouse.

59% of those whose partner refused to answer questions were still married (and living together).

81% of those whose partner answered some of their questions were still married (and living together).

86% of those whose partners answered all their questions were still married (and living together).

She concluded that the extent to which the partner answered questions was significantly associated with present marital status. Understanding what occurred allows both parties to rally around solutions.

Combating Self-Deception

Not only does the hurt spouse have a need to know what happened, the need for those who were unfaithful is just as great. Speaking from personal experience, I can attest to the benefit I received from discussing the events of my infidelity. There is a strong tendency to be self-deceived when facing a side of ourselves we'd rather keep in the dark. When we feel shame we betray ourselves as well as others. Exposing what has happened has a unique way of providing clarity, not only for one's mate but also for those of us who've been unfaithful.

After my affair ended, I was not capable of thinking clearly and consequently made many poor decisions. It wasn't just my mate discovering what happened; I also began to understand things I had not seen. Though it is a process, it was a necessary ingredient to my own safety and healing journey.

When Is Enough Detail, Enough Detail?

At the same time, knowing what happened isn't the same as knowing every detail about everything that happened. Too much detail creates additional problems with intrusive thoughts. The betrayed partner might want to know what happened, where it happened, how often it happened, if there are potential health risks, and when it began and ended, and they have a right to this information. Questions comparing themselves to the affair partner, however, serve little or no benefit.

Comparison questions ultimately create intrusive thoughts and complicate the healing process. While it is enticing to ask these questions, too much information only creates more reminders and more triggers.

For those who want to help their mate feel safe and heal by sharing their story, here are some words of advice.

  • Begin by asking your mate if he or she wants to know. If the answer is yes, then tell them the story. I find that carefully telling the story from beginning to end is the best way to relay the information. Far too often the story is told piecemeal, i.e. drip feeding or trickle truth, as the betrayed partner asks questions and the unfaithful partner tries to answer. This, unfortunately, starts the clock over every time new information is brought to the surface.
  • When you finish telling the story, please don't say "that's everything." You're far better off realizing that you've told everything you remember at that moment, but there's always the possibility that other memories will come to mind and/or your mate may not have heard everything and will later be devastated if more information comes to light. Tell them that you're committed to honestly answering their questions and exploring what happened.
  • When your mate doesn't remember. Oftentimes, in the disclosure process, an unfaithful partner will resort to "I don't remember." Unfortunately, they may not want to share the information as they are convinced that if the betrayed knows the details, they are done and gone. Other times, they genuinely may not remember the information and may need time and even help to remember what transpired. While "I don't remember" is not the best answer, a better answer may be "I don't remember the exact information right now, but I'm committed to getting the right help and the right process in place to come to remember the details. I also commit to sharing any and all information I remember as we get immediate help to start this healing process."
  • Ask what author Esther Perel MA, LMFT calls Investigative Questions, especially if your mate says they can't remember. Not being able to remember certain answers won't prevent them from answering the questions below and it will create the opportunity for the unfaithful to share what they are feeling. You can read a full list of these questions here: Esther Perel's Investigative Questions for Couples Experiencing Infidelity. I've posted just a few below:
    1. What did the affair mean to you?
    2. Did you feel entitled to your affair?
    3. Why do you think you could not express your needs to me: emotional, intellectual or sexual?
    4. Did you ever get to a point where you felt you were losing yourself or felt torn and confused?
    5. Did you ever worry that your affair would destroy our relationship?
    6. What was it like for you to lie?
    7. Do you think I have a say in it?
    8. Did you want to leave me or was the affair just an addition to us?

A word of caution, the WHY will be much more difficult for both of you than the WHAT. Therefore, we've written a series called Why Did They Cheat?. As you are working through why the infidelity happened, it is important to remember the necessity of safety in the recovery process. For the offended party to feel safe there must be signs of genuine empathy. Without truly working to understand the depth of your mate's pain, all attempts at reconnecting will appear hollow or self-serving.

Rebuilding trust after such a heavy blow will never be easy, but the good news is you don't have to have trust to rebuild a relationship. In the meantime, you can replace trust with a whole lot of honesty and a whole lot of empathy.

Unfaithful partners, these two gestures will go further than you may realize to soothe the deep soul-wound infidelity has left your mate. If you are not sure where to start or how to develop empathy, please consider joining a group in Hope for Healing, our course for unfaithful partners. You'll be in a safe, encouraging atmosphere with a group leader and several other unfaithful partners who will walk the 17-week journey with you. There is hope for healing!

Hope for Healing registration opens today, February 26th at 12:00 PM Central Time (USA).
This life-changing, 17-week online course for unfaithful partners provides community, encouragement, and a path to freedom. (please note: it typically sells out within a couple of hours) Don't wait any longer to begin your recovery journey!

Register Now!

EMS Online registration opens next week, March 4th at 12:00 PM Central Time (USA).
Tired of not having a thorough plan to heal after infidelity? EMS Online walks you through the critical steps required to address the infidelity and reconnect as a couple. It sells out fast so don't delay.

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  1. Vaughan, Peggy. Help for Therapist and their Clients: Report of Survey on Extramarital Affairs. Dear Peggy. n.d. Web. 07 July 2014.



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He "doesn't remember"

I have always had a problem with the timeline and when the affair started. My husband says he doesn't remember. Today he said I need to accept that or leave him. Those are my choices? Not very satisfying. I wish he understood that I am hurting, even though it's been 10 months. I really want to move on and have closure. I don't know why this is so important to me.

I get a whole lot of "I don't

I get a whole lot of "I don't remember" as well. That doesn't help me feel secure or trusting. I know he doesn't want to remember because it is his pain as well.

"Doesn't Remember Either"

I get the same line in addition to being told that "I'm just dwelling on all the negative instead of trying to move on". I want to understand it and move on, but how do you move on when your mind is creating the story for you instead of the unfaithful spouse? The lack of empathy gives me very little hope too.

Don’t remember either

I understand what you are saying. Some information that came out recently about a possible affair that my wife had 33 years ago has come out. Needless to say I am devistated finding out about it just now. We have been to a couple of therapists and the answer that they give is to think about the good times and let the past go.

I can’t forget and feel lost, I don’t know what to do.

He "Doesn't Remember"

My heart goes out to you,for I am dealing with the same exact thing myself. Today makes 1 year to the day he was last with her. Last night I cried as I watched a video message I sat and made at 4:11 am on my iPad. The video was me in a frantic state asking him "WHY" because he wasn't home and after calling and going to his friends looking for him I knew there was only one place he could have been. Of course when he made it home after 1:00 in afternoon he told me he went to a friends house (a friend that I didn't call of course) and drank, passed out and didn't have a phone to call me! It didn't take long to find out the truth (from the other woman) that they spent the evening watching fire flys and the night together!
I still feel like it was yesterday, the pain is just as bad, my heart broken.
He noticed the last few weeks my staring off, getting snappy with him, and my eyes red after coming out of the bathroom that I use to sit and silently cry hoping he don't know.
Last night I told him I deserve to know the truth about it all. That I love him and that's why I chose to stay although after a year to the day now I DESERVE the truth. The whole truth that I want/need from him, not the other woman.
He looked at me and told me he wants to move forward and I won't let us, I am stuck in a rut because I like it. He looked me in my eyes and told me that I am a crybaby and he is sick of hearing me cry and wine, that I need to grow up. He continued with "I can't and won't continue to live like this so get over it as of right now or move on"! He said me being such a crybaby after this long is making him miserable!
I have not said or asked any questions today even though it's what I call D-day. (Dooms day anniversary)
I feel different after hearing him say the same things last night that he has been repeating every time I try to talk or ask questions since the beginning. I realize I have been cheated again (not with another) but cheated out of a year that I struggled alone, cheated from the real love I have given him and the respect of the truth. I chose to stay because I love him and want to be with him till death makes us part, but I didn't chose to be hurt so badly with cheating along with name calling and ultamatioms! I see things differently today on D-day... I truly love and stayed to make it work but it's time to accept the love he has for me is not nearly as deep or real because if it was he would help me heal not making it harder. I am going to walk away still heart broke but I won't carry any regret on my shoulders when I go. I stayed, I tried, and truly loved him. He couldn't show me the same by just telling me the answers to questions I asked only " I forget" " I don't remember when ect"
I wish you luck and hope you get the answeres you deserve...

“Just get over it already”

Oh my word this sounds so familiar...14 months past d-day..same,same attitude!

Doesn't remember

My situation was a little different, but similar. My need to know was so great that I told my husband that he had to leave if he continued to lie to me. I sent him the name of my lawyer, told him to make an appointment at his convenience and that he could have anything in the house he wanted for his new place. Granted, this was 5 months after D-day. I was not able to get past a certain point because his story wasn't adding up with me. We had even seen two different marriage counselors and I felt like while we were civil to each other and enjoyed some good times together, that him not being totally honest (to my satisfaction) made no point in trying to rebuild a marriage on a foundation of lies. That was my deal breaker. Don't get me wrong, I did worry he would call the lawyer, but at the same time I had made up my mind that whatever the outcome I would win. Win by being free of a lying cheater that had no remorse for his actions and only considered his own pain in all of this. Or win by being free to work on myself, go where I pleased without question and find myself again. The burning question, " did he disclose ?". The answer is yes. I wrote down all my questions beforehand, just in case he would disclose and I went down the line and wrote the answers down. I didn't judge and I thanked him afterwards. He had to admit that he even felt better after being honest. Things are getting better slowly, but as long as I see progress it's doable. My advise to you would be to not torture yourself. I felt like my husband owed it to me to at least come clean. Find out what your deal breaker is and decide if you want to push the button or continue to be in so much pain. Either way, good luck and take extra good care of yourself. Believe me, focusing more on yourself let's them see that life does not revolve around them. Take back your power! Love yourself first.....


Can i ask.... did it liberate you after he answered all the questions? Did you keep thinking of more questions over time? I feel like i am never going to get over his affair. He has answered all my questions but i think of new things i need/want to know, and now he gets angry and really annoyed and i dont know if its bc hes lying or bc i should truly just be over it all and moved on from even thinking about it all. Its been almost 2 years!!

You are brave

I don't know you, but I am so sorry for your pain. I can feel it through your words. I too was betrayed. I think you are very brave and have fought to save your marriage, but I'm glad that you have realized that you don't deserve the bad treatment from your spouse and have decided to leave him in order to be at peace. Perhaps you walking away will make him understand that your needs are legitimate and will finally give you what you need or perhaps he won't. But at least you will be free and can start to remake your life. I wish you the best.

Did you end up leaving?

Hi, I came accross your story today and I'm going through the same thing. I feel like I'm stuck in a rut and I was wondering if you ended up leaving him after all and how it's been?


I have been feeling like I am losing my mind, reading this though has made me realise that what I am feeling is normal and I’m not crazy, my partner also refuses to tell me what happened even simple questions as to when it started and ended? I now realise it’s not for my good but his own good.
I don’t know if I have as much strength as u have to leave as for me it has been 2yrs and I am so more dependent on him as my anxiety and depression increase from the lack of communication and healing. I now feel guilty having these thoughts and feelings still as I have been told countless times to move on and get over it as in my partners words the affair is over. How is life for you now, did u go back have you been able to heal better without you partner?


I also had to know the timeline, he said 1 yr, but then admiitted 2 yrs 8 months. I was so devasted . For me knowinf the timeline told me how involved he was with her. We are in therapy.

Months and years

I am impressed how so many are sticking around months and years later still asking why. We are 35 days from D day and I am ready to end it. The unwillingness to give the timeline and frequency is bad my itself but to find out he lied about certain questions has pushed me over the edge. How do you hang on so long? Nothing left.

Months and Years

I'm sorry for your pain. I held on so long because of hope. My hope was he would learn from his mistakes. I now realize it's not a mistake but a choice to cheat. Not only did I get zero support and empathy I got "You have to get over this". I put that affair behind us no more questions asked only to have a second and third d day at the same time. My advice don't hang on but run. They don't change they just get better at lying. So my marriage of 24 years now that I'm almost 50 has collapsed because of another affair. Fool me no more I am also done but I can say I does get better. Wishing you happiness!

2 months in...

I understand everyone's pain. He had an affair that lasted 2 years. I found out about it 1 month ago. I also found out 1 year after it ended. He's answered some of my questions, he ommits alot. 2 days ago I told him that I needed the whole story. I wrote him an email, told him that in order to move forward I need to have closure. I was kind in my email. I clearly told him that I am not "just going to get over it". I explained that this a crucial time and his honesty and transparency is the only thing that can help look towards the future. I sent him many articles on the importance of oppening up. I promised no anger, no judgement, maybe some tears.

We are going to talk tommorrow evening. I am nervous if he is going to lie, ommit or water down the truth. I feel like this one conversation will define if this marriage continues or not. If he is dishonest, I will have leave and find my own healing.

Sorry I have no words of

Sorry I have no words of advice. I’m currently in the same situation. I want answers. I need answers. I don’t actually know why because I know the answers will actually make me feel worse I just know I need them no matter how big or small. But he tells me to either drop it or go. He shows no remorse, no guilt, no empathy and I’m sat here day after day, night after night being sick, a complete mess, torn apart, devastated ect and he tells me to just drop it. That it’s my own fault I’m upset because I should sort my head out and just drop it. It hasn’t even been four weeks.

It will take a while

At the time you wrote that there is a good chance it was not over. Which of you read this blog and watch their YouTube videos is 100000% normal. It’s actually abnormal in most cases for it to be over as soon as you know. That’s why he may have been acting that way. ( been there )he may have been in the middle of trying to end it with the other woman and his head was not in the right space to start rebuilding your life together while that is going on ... I see it’s been a few months now for you. As unfair as this will sound ...He needs time to process that he did this, time to really let it sink in that you know, that you’re in a type of pain that he cannot understand. He may say hurtful things about getting over it and so on, but he doesn’t know what he is saying ... no one can understand what’s happening in your brain now unless they have experienced it.. and he has to navigate that while trying to not make this any worse for you (therefore not inviting new information which he knows = hurting you) but he eventually will get more comfortable giving details as time goes by. Especially if you uncover more things he, has no choice but to explain. But it’s important to remember 2 things. One he feels terrible. No question. Also, time will make him more comfortable giving you information. Make sure you are always coming from a place of hurt not trying to make him feel crappy (which is hard and I fail at that a lot) ...And you WILL find more peace the more you know believe it or not And that brings me to something I’m learning. I dont know if I hate the AP (I never met her and have had limited exchanges with her via text/ social media.) My biggest problem ( I think ) was the secrecy/ betrayal (by my spouse )between my spouse and AP. That gave her so much power over me I felt (which naturally made me incredibly insecure).However the more he told me, that she never told me when I reached out... took the power (that gave me insecurities) our of their secret exchanges and moments alone away from them (because it is no longer something just for them, he has willingly disclosed something that wasn’t meant for you to know. That’s massive ! As for the AP I feel she needed to have secrets with my husband and she felt that gave her relationship with my husband meaning and importance, as I would ask for info and tell her what I knew and there would be little to no addition by her. So! By my husband taking the mystery out of their time alone together ( that she’s clearly needed to feel important) I feel like he is invalidating his relationship with her little by little time after time we discuss what happened. You WILL not get the entire story immediately. Not 3 months in or 9 or in a year .. so don’t think you know it all when he says that’s all of it .. Im saying that to help you not frustrate you. He doesn’t want to hurt you, because he didn’t want to give you a hundred reasons to leave me him. I truly believe that’s why he’s avoiding answering things. He sees what he says putting you thru. If he’s there he wants to be. Even if he says he’s tired of it all on certain days. You both will feel like giving up. A lot. But there will come a breaking point for him. He will more than say he gets the hurt he has caused you will know he loves you and you are his queen. My issue is trying to understand Is that it’s not still happening. And the things that caused the trauma (which you are experiencing a severe emotional trauma) are over. I don’t know where you stand currently, if you have decided to stay I hope things are at least ok, and if you didn’t stay it’s really hard and honestly just saying ok I will try is a huge step forward. So good luck either way.


I would suggest leaving with the intention of coming back but know what you are putting urself into there will be a fight possible hurtful things and a time line for the other one that you will not notice who that person is but what you are doing is taking yourself out of the loop and letting the people think and reflect on there own if they are really vomited or fooling themselves you will get the answer you are after in the trust form and then you can choose to come back and start fresh. But know that this is a tactical relationship timeout not to use the situation to hurt your partner but to reset and move forward when the fight has been cleared .


Thus article showed up in my inbox just hours after my husband and I had an argument where he told me he is tired of trying to be a good husband when it doesn't seem to be helping our relationship much, and asked me when I'm going to get past this and start trusting him again. He offers to do things to make me feel safe but resents doing those things and "forgets" to do them. Because he offers, I expect that he will do it, and it cracks the trust more when he doesn't do what he says. We are about ten months into this. I want to trust him. I want my life back. I didn't ask for any of this. I read all of the links at the top of the page. It all makes sense. But I feel like every time I take a step forward, he does something to shove me right back.

Truth is the first step in healing

This was very well written. Thanks Rick.

I being the hurt spouse can tell you that if you are the unfaithful spouse, honesty and telling ALL of what happened right from the start go a long way in healing.

In our case my husband had 3 ongoing affairs more or less at the same time. One was emotional with a women he had almost had a sexual affair with, (or so he says), 5 years before, then started calling again, one was a sexual affair with an old girlfriend, and after her he had a serious sexual affair with another women.

On D-day, I was only told about the last affair. This alone tore me heart to pieces and drove me almost insane with grief.
For a year or more whenever I asked any questions the answers were always vague or he couldn't remember. This only added to my confusion, frustration, and doubt. For I had been living with a man I thought I knew and he had become so good at telling lies, that I could no longer tell what was truth. I think it may have been almost the same for him. He was so used to telling a lie about almost everything that the real truth was muddled for him. Also his lies were his biggest defence mechanism.

About 6 months after the first D-day and much counselling, individually and together, my husband gave me the password to his cell phone account. It was here that I discovered the other two women.

When I confronted him on these numbers and these women, he told me they were just friends an he was just being social.
I once again asked more questions and was told more lies. I had a feeling that something was very wrong and I would not let it go. I had failed to trust my feelings before but never again.

I was right, not that this was a good thing, but a year after the affair he wrote letters to all 3 women and told them he loved me and had wronged me and that he never wanted to see them or ever have any contact ever again.
It was after he did this that the one old girlfriend called our house and said he had just lied and told her how much he loved her over and over and that he had lied to her telling her that he would get rid of me and they could have a future together and that it was wrong of them to have an affair.

Even after her telling him all this right in front of me he denied ever having sex with her over and over. Then the next day admitted to me that he did, but only once, like this made it so much less of an offence. Stating that he had lied to me as to not hurt me further. Well let me tell you it hurt even worse, because here I thought he was really trying which he was, but truth is one of the biggest healing agents when trying to heal from an affair.

Now 2 years later I am still a mess. My husband is being very patient, honest and loving. He has changed his ways and is doing everything he can to make our marriage better. I on the other hand still feel so crushed, abused and depressed. I feel almost worthless and ugly inside and out. It is hard for me to grasp that someone I gave my life to has done all this to me. I love him but I hate what he has done to me.

We never talk about it and our counsellor has moved away, so I have no one to confide in. I could look for another counsellor but the thought of telling this story all over makes me feel sick.

In conclusion to those of you who have been unfaithful, you should know that Rick is so right in saying to tell it ALL and get all the questions dealt with as soon as possible and as honestly as possible. To withhold the information is just more abuse!

Please remember that life is short and we gave our lives to you to share and you have no right to waste a second of it with your lies, deceit and cheating. Love and marriage is a very special gift that we have decided to share with you. If you are reading this it would seem that you are at least willing to try to make your marriage work. If this is so then it would be best to do EVERYTHING that you can possibly do to make things right. Telling the truth is one of the most important steps to our healing without it the damage and abuse is ongoing.

why do the unfaithful & AP get to have

secrets? Why is OK for "the AP" to know things about my spouse and her that I don't know? Why is it wrong for me to have details? Why should the events they did stay in the dark and not come to light? Why does it always seem there are new ways to "protect" the unfaithful and the AP by not asking for details? Why is it always about them? Do I sound upset? You bet I am. When a wife/husband makes the decision to cheat they have made the decision to give up any and all rights to privacy about any aspects of their affair. I'm just saying.......




It’s fabulous when a person speaks their truth. Sorry for what you’ve been through. You don’t deserve it. Prayers coming your way. 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏


I have yet to get the details. We have been living separate for almost three months and D Day was three weeks ago. I want to know when this 8 year affair started to the month and all details. I know this woman! I have been pouring over old phone bills seeing how they texted and sent pictures to each other and it is sickening. My husband is acting remorseful but not offering much information. We see a counselor again next week.

Not sure...

Hi Rebecca - not sure why I am responding here. Maybe because this is one of the few threads on this topic that I have read that isn't super old. Plus I guess in a similar situation. We are a year and a week past D day. She in an affair for 10 to 12 years. Emotional only for 8 (I am told) and then physical as well. Also know the guy. It's the little things that hurt the most - Him commenting on her FB posts and saying stuff like "say hi to your beautiful fam" "great to hear your doing well" etc. Then to look at phone records and see they had been texting and calling each other all day. Week. Months. Years.. Looking at pics of when we were on a date and seeing that she was texting him through the night. Going to bed early (I work early) and she stays up and talks with him. Etc... Years of this. It is painful. I must fully disclose that I am by no means innocent - and many would say that my behavior during the same time was worst. But I am willing to own up to my moral and religious failings and disclose whatever info is needed to heal- whereas she acts like her affair is none of my business. I had to actually accept that I was the kind of person that did the things I did - and decide who I want to be now. Only full honesty about past and present will accomplish that. Sorry if I sound like a know it all- but I am about 9 months ahead of you in a dumpster-fire of my own. :) I wish you the very best with your counseling! We are seeing a counselor in January.

When 'everything' still doesn't make sense

It's been 6 mos since discovery and he says he has told me everything. Much of "everything" has holes, doesn't make logical sense, and sounds a lot like "the dog ate my homework ". The newest thing is that when I tell him I still think about it every single day, he says he Never thinks about it/her unless I bring it up. He had a 9 mo affair (timeframe questionable) and never thinks about it? Am I crazy to think this is just the new lie?

Defensive Outbursts and Shut-downs....

Reading this article makes my heart sad, today...it's been 4 years since my husband's secret living was brought to light. In the beginning of our recovery time, I felt he was kinder in his responses, tolerating my questions, but never offering anything unless "I ask." For this reason, it has always felt choppy and handed to me piece-meal. Lately, a lot of triggers have brought these original raw emotions out in me, and when I want to delve deeper with him, he is defensive and angry that I am "bringing up the past." Something in all of this makes me feel 'unsafe", thus reliving all of the original patterns that led me to his "secrets" in the first place. Praying that God will reveal himself in this situation, of today...praying for a marriage that is built on Christ, filled with honesty and trust.

Same here

I just posted the same thing on another article about complete disclosure. I do love my husband. I have - like most everyone of you- spent over a year working on processing any dripping disclosure only to suffer the pain of grief day after day. I have waited for so long for him to open up about what they shared ( other than sex). I talk to no one- due to the humiliation- even my own mother is unable to share due to the pain it brings her from past experience. So I'm asking anyone if wanting to know the details of their conversations is impotant- to me- it is. He just doesn't remember what he said and can't understand why I need to know. I wanted that special recovery- the kind where putting it all on the table and allowing me to important enough and special enough to bring the dark secret conversations to light. What happens when they never share that with you.....

Same problem but no answers

It's been 9 months and I still can't seem to get enough information either. Other than, "I don't remember," I'm dealing with the fact that my husband was heavily drinking during his encounters. So if he's really told me all he knows, what am I supposed to do from here? Accept it and move on or stay stuck in this rut? Unfortunately, I don't have the answer to this problem. I know a lot of details and he thinks I'll never know enough. I'm wondering if he's right. It's like I'm looking for something to make me feel better and I think I can find it by knowing more, but it's not working. Hopelessness is seeping in. It's so painful and exhausting. Can anyone help?

It becomes all consuming, I felt like I was going insane!

I understand too, I seem to continually have questions and want to know more...I am wondering is there actually any more to know? Alcohol has blurred my husbands memory too and so if he cant actually remember, how can he honestly retell to me how, what and why it happened, and the last thing I want him to do is make up a story simply to satisfy me just because he cant really remember... it has only been 3 months , he has told me what happened, he was so ashamed, he has told me he is sorry over and over, he has stopped drinking. I am still shocked and hurt and it is tough to get past this...it is so tough and I continue to ask questions but I just don't think there are any more answers... I think the biggest realization I have come to is this... What happened had nothing to do with me, once I removed myself from what happened I saw things differently...I realized I was blaming myself and decided I should not take the blame for his actions. I did not make him cheat. He made the decision to cheat. He choose to stray... understanding that was really the only thing I needed to understand...and I think because the answer is something I am ever going to be comfortable with, it is hard to accept and take in and be finished with... I too have been looking for something to make me feel better and thought knowing more would do the trick, but it does not. I now stop myself from asking anymore questions simply because I have asked them all before and he has answered them...I now need to either accept it, forgive him and start to move on with him...or I dont... I agree it is so painful and exhausting...it really is...and its not fair... I hope somehow my story helps...

But what do you do when you

But what do you do when you feel like he is still hiding something from you or not giving you the full truth?

Thank You,

Thank you, it did.

I am so relieved to have

I am so relieved to have found someone else who's husband had multiple encounters while intoxicated. You took the words right out of me.

Same Boat

I am in the same boat. Frustrating. Did both of you H quick drinking? Mine is currently going through AA even though he is not dependent he puts a lot of the blame on alcohol.

Lie Detectors

My husband was directed to Sex Therapist, which recommended full disclosure and then a lie detector afterward to verify for both our sakes...mine, so I could get my feet somewhere a bit more solid and for him....to feel some self respect and find a starting point.


As the betrayer I have to say in the beginning a lot of the details seemed blurry because I was trying to wrap my own head around what happened and we were still living in close proximity to the AP and trying to get out. I thought I was giving the details as my spouse could handle them. After moving a little further away but still close enough to run into the AP I felt safe and started opening up so that my spouse and I could have a better understanding of what happened. I was very forthright with details with the exception of sexual details bc honestly we all know what the act is and there is no benefit to that type of explanation. Also in my own head I wanted those images to go away because of my shame. After moving out of state my spouse felt like we would have a new beginning but still did not feel like I was being honest and after going through the explanation of the beginning to the end of a 4 month affair there was not much else that I could come up with. I have been empathetic but sometimes realize I could be a little more and after 4 years I am really trying to be kind and loving and simply apologize when my spouse shares that those intrusive thoughts are going through their head. My spouse tends to get really upset after drinking and sometimes have to cut the conversation short because it tends to turn ugly. I see all the hurt and pain I have caused and wish I could take it away but I just hang in there and do the best I can with the tools I have. We did go through a period of if you give me more info I will feel better and I found myself repeating what I had already told. I think after being screamed at in front of my family I was done and told my spouse I realize my faults and working my butt off to make things better but I will not be treated like that....I can understand in the beginning but not years later. Things actually seem to be better since then as we have both set up our boundaries.

Thank you

I so appreciate what you have written here. I have tried and tried to own up to what I've done, as I am the unfaithful spouse. I have tried to give information, but my spouse feels I'm not being honest with what I've given, and then we've just ended up in re-wiring of the conversation, how I feel / felt, my motives, and the reasons for why things happened. Then there's the abuse I endured when I was trying to tell him what he asked me, and it was brutal. After attempting to answer and give reasons for why things happened the way they did, and being told that I'm (blankety blank blank blank) still not telling the truth, I had to give up. These conversations were so unhappy and painful, I'd be in knots and sick for weeks afterward. We never were able to get through any of them with any positive outcomes, except more anger, resentment and distance. It's been almost 20 months since D-Day, and I want more than anything to restore a 25+ year marriage that had so many holes I don't know where to begin. The emotional distance I was put through with my spouse all those years drove me to the brink of insanity and feeling so worthless, and then I made choices to cheat. I won't ever justify what I did nor say it was my spouse's fault nor excuse it, but I did spend years trying and trying to get closer to my spouse, understand his distance, suggest counseling/therapy/workshops/books, to no avail. I'd always have to just drop it, and everything I did was wrong (he perceives I was the most selfish person in the world, that I nagged, complained, and was depressed for years and that he couldn't take it anymore so he just detached and turned me away when I wanted to cuddle, have sex, etc). Yes, I did many things wrong, but I'm still here ready and willing to make the marriage work. I've done work on myself because I've learned that one person can indeed change a marriage even when the other doesn't want the marriage (has been saying this for years but still hasn't filed, this makes no sense) because my h isn't willing to look at his contribution. I'm still here because even though we've slept in separate rooms for 15+ years and emotional distance has driven me nearly to insanity, without God, I would not still be where I am (at home with my spouse). I've worked on myself to be the best I can for me, my spouse and most importantly, my savior Jesus. Spouse is still not willing to be anything more than roommates, but God has promised me that He will restore what the enemy has stolen from us, and that there will be resurrection of this relationship to more closely resemble His plan and will for our lives. So I continue where I am, being mindful of myself and waiting for God. The best thing out of all this is that my spouse has agreed to attend congregation together, where we never did before ... although I think he's doing it more because he wants to for himself. He's talked to our pastor just 3 times without me there (he declines to have any counseling for us), and mostly what he told our pastor is that he wants out. He promised our pastor he would wait for 6 months to file and then didn't (that was about 9 months ago), but as recently as 3 weeks ago said our remaining together in this house is "pointless". As the unfaithful spouse, I can say that God doesn't think restoration and fulfillment of His will is pointless. I just hope that some betrayed spouses can consider the possibility that their unfaithful spouses are not the enemy and may be willing to work through and recover the relationship, that their unfaithful spouse may simply be a person who still loves them and who did a bad thing, but are not unworthy of being rescued nor salvation and restoration of the relationship. I wish my spouse could understand these things, but right now he simply cannot.

Question - so Did you admit sex?

So Did you admit sex but just not the sexual details? My husband has just told me his co worker and him kisses for 3 years and she stroked his penis but he said nothing more happened he just touched her bra. I don’t understand if there are phone records of them talking daily for hours during work and then his phone would always be offline meaning he tired off location (as we frequently shared locations in our family phone account).

I feel in my heart they had sex because when I approached her she said they kissed 3 years ago and then stopped and he said they kissed 3 months ago barely for first time. Plus she lied about kissing and I told her he told me that they kissed she said oh ya 3 years ago.

Since I kept asking him over and over if they had sex and that wife / husband who want to work out should have all truth on what went on (I don’t need details) then I could know my heart is in sync with this gut wrenching feeling they had sex. So he said fine we had sex and when I shared this news with our marriage counselor feeling relieved. Then he said you promised to ask no details and guess what I never had sex with her I just told you that so you can feel better. I don’t know why but he says he lied. It has been 8 months since I found out by phone records. I just want to know if they had sex because all dates are wrong from the two of them and then I just found out by his friend he had sex behind my back with my sister years ago I don’t even know when I still haven’t had strength to deal with both situations. He tells me to get over it when I ask for truth and he stands up by front door and walks out saying I’m going with my co worker since you want me to have sex with her. It makes me so mad I just want the truth and it’s either I get over it or accept it was no they didn’t have sex.

Do you think he doesn’t want to tell me about the sex? I have no proof I just felt relieved when he said he did and that we could move on now I just feel lied to.

Memo to the Unfaithful

If you are reading this then read all the other replies as well.
Do you see a common thread here?
If we are still in the picture you should get down on your knees and thank God for our kindness.
Take us by the hand sit us down and tell us EVERYTHING.
Don't make us ask and ask and ask until we ask the right question.
Don't make us wait while you decide to dole out your responses.
Don't lie to us that you don't remember.
You lied to us over and over so you could be with that other person and if you want us back in your life then give us the respect we deserve and tell us what happened.
This makes me so angry and your unco-operative attitudes is what keeps us in this hell you have created.
For once stand up and be a man, (or women if that is the case).
You want us back be the better person we deserve!
A honest open and loving person.
Please quit abusing us and start being the person we deserve.
Above all remember you have no right to waste a second of our lives and you are very lucky we are even still here.
My heart and prayers go out to all of you who have been cheated on.


This is the best memo to cheating partners I had read in a long time.


This is a well written article and explains just how I feel stuck with the lack of information that my husband is giving. After 3 separate occasions catching him in lies and questionable circumstances/relationships with other women, he swears NOW he is a changed man, that from here on he will think different,y and behave differently. To him just saying he was wrong, saying sorry and answering questions (with lies and half truths) should be enough for me to get over it and move on. I know he hasn't been honest, he has given me no detail in regards to timeline, the person, how they came to be etc. he thinks it's enough to give a 'fake' name and that's it. Now he will argue that he is doing his best to prove to me he wants to save the marriage but won't relent and give me the information I need to know. Why do I need to know? I need to know his frame of mind, who the high risk women in his life are, how long he was involved and how deeply. Instead of full disclosure I have resorted to playing PI and reveal information that is disturbing. He says no matter what he says I won't believe him anyway, that I expect him to tell me what I want to hear. Really? But we both know he did! So fed up with lies and secrets.

So True

You wrote every word as it was mine. This is my circumstance to the T!!! Thank you for putting it into words

From The Cheater

I am the cheating spouse.

I had a three month affair and when my affair had ended I made the same mistakes it seems that all of you are suffering. It's been over a year since my affair ended and my wife still feels that there are still holes and gaps to be filled.

I'll start from the beginning

My job requires me to go to the homes of others whether male or female. So this is how it happened and I am not going to tell anyone what I do for a living. So I met my AP at her home. I want to say that It was about a week later when she had called me while I was at the grocery store and she was asking me to go dancing with her the following evening. I told her that I don't dance, (1st mistake), "I should have hug up", "I should have told my wife what just happened", and when I was going to checkout she asked me If I was married and I said yes I am. So you think It would have ended there, "right". I'm not sure exactly when the next call came from her it may have been within a few days or so but when she called me the next time she had asked me to go to an art party with her. I didn't respond by saying yes or no but when I went home I had asked my wife If she would like to go to an art party that I was invited to and right now I wish she would have said yes. Please keep in mind that I am not blaming my wife for the poor choice that "I" made when "I" gave myself the permission to start seeing another woman.

I called my AP and said yes I would like to go and meet her. My AP asked me to help her bring some things to the building a week prior to this party. So this would have been on a Friday, the party wasn't until the following Friday and Saturday evenings. When I was with her the 1st evening she wanted me to go downtown with her to another function so I agreed but before I needed to get something to eat so we went to Applebees and she had a drink while I grabbed something light. Then we went downtown and I paid for both of us to get into the function. I was constantly looking around for people that I might know or my wife knew and I can personally say that it was very stressful. I stayed for about 1/2 an hour to 1 hour, I'm not sure because I left my phone inside my vehicle. "We both drove separate".

Before I left she asked me to meet her next week at another place downtown. I think we met on a Tuesday and Wednesday evening at a certain bar/restaurant. My AP was busy that week because she had a lot of things to prepare for this event that was just in a few days. I went to the Art Party Friday evening but I didn't enjoy the atmosphere and I wasn't having fun. I was stressed out because I didn't belong there and felt guilty because I was with another woman who was not my wife. So I told my AP I didn't feel good and then I went home. "Oh, by the way some of you may ask, "what was I telling my wife before I left". (Every time I left I told my wife that I was going to work), yes I lied.

The next time I was with my AP would have been on Sunday afternoon, which was the following day after the art party. (Art party was Friday and Saturday). We didn't go anywhere just stayed at her house for an hour before I went home. We discussed going to the shooting range the following Saturday. So my AP and I set up the day to meet and I went to her home that morning and I picked her up and we spent at least 1/2 the day together. I don't remember everything we talked about but we probably had discussions about our two very different lives, family's and how much fun we were having with each other. "Maybe to some of you that sounds kind of lame", but It's very difficult to remember "exactly" what was said. I think more of it is just bringing out facts of what happened because for me their were many times I met with my AP and I know we talked privately but I can only mostly remember the topics of our conversations rather than exactly how I responded or how my AP responded.

We met many times again and again and we talked by phone and text. Since I wasn't sleeping with my wife and had not been even before my affair it gave me time to both respond and engage. Just so some of you may understand how in the world is he doing this and covering it up.

Ok, I don't want to make this so long that all of you and Rick if he reads this gets disinterested so I am going to make this a little shorter.

There was a evening that my AP sent me a text and she had asked me to meet her. It was maybe 11PM. So I told her to find me out on the road which was about 100 Yds. away from my home. So I threw on my headphones and went for a walk. My AP and I went for a drive and then parked, I'm not going through any further details but I can tell you that this happened two times. Then one evening I told my wife that I had to be on a job at 3AM and that's when I went to her home and this happened during the work week not on a weekend and I did this more than one time.

We still went out many times after and met at several different places of my AP's choice. My AP had her own business and was always telling me that she never had any money. Several times she would continue on asking me to help her fund her business for her office employees expense. I always responded by telling her that I wanted to see her books so I could see what she was doing. I never supplied her any money for her business but I did pay every time we were out.

When my wife discovered.

I was with my AP one evening and it was around 11PM when I was on my way home. My wife called when I was driving. My wife said she knew everything. I said about what, and she said she found out about my affair. I told my wife I was driving home and I would talk when I was there. Then my AP calls me and she said your wife knows about us. So know overdrive kicks in and panic mode, damage control, anger, guilt, shame and now I had to come and face my wife. The only thing, there was no reality, none. I didn't even know what I was going to tell her, no plan, nothing.

I walked into a area where we always sit outside and there she was. I think she was smiling but I could feel her tense. So I think she was smiling with anger. So I sat in a chair next to her and denied my affair. Knowing me, I probably told my wife that I was tired and wanted to go to sleep and why can't we just talk about this in the morning. I don't know but I think we had a conversation and I think I told her that my AP and I were going to get married. I don't know what else was said that evening but I think I wore the same smile of anger, only mine was from getting caught.

My wife told me that she wanted me out. She didn't want me here. So I said I would leave but I needed to find a place to go. (Saturday evening was discovery and I moved out on Monday. I didn't move to my AP's home but I did go to a friends and then to my Mom and Dads as they were leaving for several months.

My wife and I didn't talk for a day or two except for she asking me to get the rest of my things out. I also talked with my Dad but the only advise he had to give me was, "you know, I never loved your mother". Instead of telling me, "Son what the heck did you just do, you just destroyed your family and your son and now you need to do anything to get them back. I wish he would have said something.

I'm leaving a lot out of this but I will say that I went back about a week later. Yes I was no longer with my AP but some text messages were back and forth and finally ended.

Mistakes I made were not telling my wife everything. But I didn't know all of the rules. She knew about the sex but not our conversations about what we talked about. I think it took me about two months. Then the dribbling started. Then 6 months I was still dribbling. Then 10 months, still dribbling. 12 months, still dribbling.

I don't mean this to sound this way. Sometimes I feel that my wife is looking for this smoking gun. This specific piece of information that will suddenly be able to help her heal. I feel like I'm the star wide receiver but I keep on dropping the pass in front of a stadium of 50,000 people and the crowd is booing and yelling for the coach to yank me from the game and put in a player that is more consistent and competent.

I love my wife with all of my heart and I love my only son with all of my heart. I want my wife to heal and I want trust again. I want our marriage to be this wonderful thing between us to be so exclusive to think that nobody has the bond like we do.

My wife knows the timeline of events. She knows the where and how many times and I think she knows why but I'm not sure. But for some reason she believes she doesn't have all of the information. Believe me I have had a bomb of information dumbed on her all at one time and more.

My affair was for three months and I regret every single moment I was talking, texting or spending time with my AP.

What the heck am I doing wrong. My wife is struggling every single day and I am running out of ideas and ways to help her.

I love my wife and she truly means everything to me.


Bob, are you still out there?

Bob, are you still out there? I see your post is from 4 years ago. Where is your story at now?

Online affair

I am told it all started so innocently, just chatting on skype, "how amazing is it to talk to someone clear around the world". Then she asked if he had ever had skype sex, he says he said no. The "affair" went on for 6 months, 3+ contacts a week, or more - oh, except when his kids came to visit, but went right back when they left. Why wasn't I important enough not to start in the first place, and certainly why if he would stop for his girls being here, (obviously he knows this is wrong), but went right back for 3 more months.
I'm being told "it wasn't real, it wasn't like we were ever going to meet", then my favorite "I don't know, she just kept contacting me". Took him another 3 weeks after being busted to finally take down his google+ & skype accounts. 5 months after his being caught I am not sure its really over as I found out just yesterday in therapy that he was able to stop the behavior for his kids but not me. Now what.

Rick, I am so very grateful

Rick, I am so very grateful for your emails and the info you provide. It has helped me tremendously as my husband of 20 years has abandoned me and our children for his affair partner and I am truly healing on my own. Since he was completely unwilling to discuss a thing when the affair was discovered and we've had almost no contact since he left 18 months ago, it is in part by these emails and your website that I am able to find peace and understanding. God Bless You and Stephanie!

Empathy ? My husband has borderline Aspergers

My D-day was January 12th 2017, and so far my husband has not been able to make me feel safe and be empathetic with me. His counselor who is a CSAT just discovered that my husband has borderline Aspergers. Does anyone have experience with this ?? I want to save my marriage but I don't know ???


I see your comments from 3 yrs ago. I’m in the same place. He was diagnosed with asbergers. Now what?
Did you find help for your situation.

You Feel Like You Are Going Crazy

17 months from DDay (or so); 13 months (or so) since he officially ended it with the AP. When a spouse withholds information or goes to the over-done "I can't remember" statement over and over.... it makes the betrayed spouse feel like she or he is going nuts. Just that the affair happened is crazy-making but once we've hit the rock bottom of discovery, there's so many more layers of hurt and pain to come... it's like a free fall through all with thought was true about our lives, our marriages, our family, our identities and now isn't. The cheating spouse can help by being honest, full disclosure as much as possible, being humble and performing acts of humility to help restore their betrayed spouse's belief in their bond. I appreciate that you say here that there doesn't actually have to be trust to rebuild at the start. And how can there by trust again so fast? It took years of marriage to build that trust and bond and deep layers of love; it took just hours of flirting texts, sexets and then just a few hours of screwing the AP to undo it all. None of this - the repair - is easy and fast process. But the whole thing just makes me feel so deeply insecure about myself. Was our marriage perfect? No. Are any? Most likely not. But going outside the marriage to fix something in it is the deepest form of betrayal. Can't people just be adults and treat their spouse like they would the good friend they are supposed to be and end it cleanly (no matter how hard) before turning to another? As difficult as my own parent's divorce was, neither betrayed the other thru affairs. An affair is such a childish, mean and cruel act; I don't care if it was "not all about me"... the fallout of it coming to light seems to have affected me and my self esteem and how I feel about myself as a woman, wife, and mom (even daughter, sister and friend) way, way more than it's affected my spouse. He seems pretty ok w/himself as a man, son, father, brother, etc... .post all of it coming out. Yes, he has remorse but he seems pretty self satisfied w/himself too. Why wouldn't he? He got away w/courting, flirting with and secretly romancing and then having sex w/someone not his spouse - for almost two years. What a "fun" little game they played with each other and with my heart and with our family's well being. And all while I continued to raise his kids, help them through their own problems/crisis and supported his career. The cheating spouse not coming cleaning, holding back information and parsing out the facts seem like more ways of being betrayed and more protection of the AP than our hearts; it feels like the betrayed spouse's feelings come second to maintaining the cheater's dignity and the AP's privacy. It's all so sordid and mean and such clear bullying behavior. I think that both the cheating spouse and AP must get off on it... being jerks to the betrayed spouse(s). It's part of the thrill it seems, whether or not they want to admit to themselves or each other. And if I have to hear one more time that he didn't INTEND to hurt me... I'm gonna lose it. What fully functioning adult over 40 doesn't get their their actions have both healing and hurtful potential? How could he think so little of me and our marriage and our family to not even stop once to think - he had to be setting off a chain reaction of hurt for all involved for years and maybe even decades to come. The research on children, teen and young adult children who have a cheating parent is staggering in its fall out for their own adult lives in romantic and committed relationships and the news is NOT good at all. So before you cheat, as yourself what your own reaction would be to knowing your spouse stepped out on you? And don't pretend or lie to yourself that you'd be ok with it or it was nothing personal because you know it's a lie to yourself. You'd be just as devastated and diminished as everyone writing here who has been betrayed and is trying to scrap the pieces of their heart together and restore their sense of selfhood post your stupid and selfish act. Answer the questions they have about your affair and try, try to be a person of integrity and a man or woman of the same values and vows you professed the day you got married to. Think of yourself on that day - think of your spouse on that day or the day you decided you wanted this person in your life for the rest of your life.... then ask yourself what THAT person - your old self would say to the person you are now who cheated on that same wife or husband. If you need to go barf or sob yourself to sleep for a few weeks or months, you are on the right track of remorse and change and transformation. Don't make your betrayed spouse do all the work and research and planning of the healing and recovery of a possibly new marriage. Get off your lazy butt (for what is cheating but sheer laziness about the work marriage takes???) and get to work doing the work and patience and work and fortitude of change in yourself and restoration of your spouse's faith in you and in your marriage. Got it - you were lazy and went the easy, sloppy seconds path instead of the path of integrity, work and beautiful trust in what you could do with the power of love. You gave up on love. You gave up on your spouse, on your marriage and your family - yes, all imperfect and also all yours in a way you will now have to work two and three-fold to get back. If you ever do. Everyone is changed by what you did - don't kid yourself. Go look and the mirror and admit that truth to yourself. You changed it - not your wife, not your children, not your marriage's history, not your inlaws, not your work or lack of work, not your friends, not even your AP... you did. Now grow up and fix it.

I feel it too...

I love this. Every single word. Couldn't be truer. Now a year post D-day and I'm pretty sure my spouse is still not ready to face the full extent of his actions, which is why he's not willing or able to get to full disclosure. And I'm tired of asking, but I can't have it swept under the rug. Ignored feelings always come back with a vengeance.


What type of affair was it?

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-D, Texas