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 infidelity

Series: Why Couples Fail After an Affair

Part 1: Not Knowing What Happened

“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 after an affair?

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

Apart from 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 Therapist 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 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 spouse 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 enticing to ask, 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, as the betrayed spouse asks questions and the unfaithful spouse tries to answer. This unfortunately starts the clock over every time there is new information 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 you’re committed to honestly answering their questions and exploring what happened.
  • When your spouse doesn’t remember. It’s often times in the disclosure process an unfaithful spouse will resort to “I don’t remember.” Unfortunately, they may not want to share the information as they are convinced if they 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 spouse 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 from their heart 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?
    9. Do you think I have a say in it?

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 spouse’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 spouses, 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, consider our EMS Weekend. It’s a safe environment for those who are in crisis and who may be uncertain about any and all next steps. You’ll be with a team of expert therapists who are all survivors of infidelity personally. If my team and I have lived to tell about it, so can you.


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



RL_Media Type: 

Add New Comment:


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.

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.....

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.


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!


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. 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

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?

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 as hell. 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.

Same Boat

I am in the same boat. Frustrating as hell. Mine is currently going through AA even though he is not dependent he puts a lot of the blame on alcohol.


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.

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 ???

My recovery or lack thereof

My spouse to this day had still never admitted that he had an emotional affair with this person. Instead because of some great financial difficulties we were having which we shared equally, he conveniently decided to blame me for them and also decided I was an unfit mother since my job was requiring a lot of overtime and he was only working36 hours but he still wanted me to come home and prepare huge home cooked meals, and do 100% of the housework. So he said he wanted a divorce. Almost 2 years later he still has not gotten the divorce stating somehow that is my responsibility to do TOO. When he first told me he wanted the divorce he justified having this "friendship" with a person who was at that time also married. Last October I left my home with my kids because he would never leave but constantly showered me with verbal barrages about what a horrible person I am in front of the kids. By that time I knew the affair had progressed to physical. About 3 weeks after I moved out he moved in with her. To this day he denies he had or is having an affair. When his kids ask him why he thinks it's ok to live with that woman he launches into a litany of all of my faults, as if that has any bearing on the moral implications of living with a woman to whom you are not married or being married to one woman and thinking thatif you feel she has short comings that gives you a right to find someone else. My kids aren't buying it. As much as I try I can't find healing.


My partner swears nothing has happened since I discovered the affair however he keeping his cell phone locked and will not let me see it. I've already seen the prior Visa bills that he puts all expenses on, so I have a very clear picture of the actions that took took place. He is still minimizing. He states he is not seeing her or anyone else now but why is he keeping his cell phone secret? I have taken the password off mine. It is an open book.

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.

You feel like you are going crazy


You are so right! I totally

You are so right! I totally feel like I am going insane. I am so tired of the lies after him swearing what he is saying is true, then finding out later. He asks me why I keep digging and opening up old wounds(dday was 18 months ago) I told him these wounds are not old, they have never healed and I keep digging because the I don't know why or the I don't know when it began are getting very tiresome and I need answers. I am so stuck, I am beside myself and totally going crazy.

What's real

I understand and feel everyone's pain, my issue is crazy also. My wife has a case of the "I can't remember. She can remember what happen at the bar, went to his house and can't remember what happen there except he kissed her she kissed him,now she didn't come home until 7am and can remember the following days events cause he happened to show up at my house (football party) but left quickly. This cannot be true that she doesn't remember, right?


I am long time cheater...multiple times over many years. I have a great wife and children. I have NEVER responded to anything online. When I read this you wrote, it hit me like nothing my wife or Rick or anyone on here has ever said! It actually HELPED me hit rock bottom and see myself for who I really am. I am so ashamed and aghast at myself for being in self denial for so many years! I made excuses, justified, minimized, defended my cheating as not so bad since I did not have intercourse with any of them. I thought I had set my boundaries. How ludicrous and ridiculous of me!!! Cheating is cheating and I definitely cheated even though sometimes only in my thoughts. It all affected my relationship with my wife. I know that your writing that letter was for ME! If what you did helped no one else but ME.....it was so worth it to ME! I finally see myself because of your letter! What an awful husband I have been! You were inspired in every word you wrote and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Repeating questions

I found out 4 months ago that in 2015 my husband of 21 years (25 together) and a friend were having a sexting relationship.(Very inappropriate sexual videos and messages sent to him and to her taken in my house). She had moved to Texas in Aug 2014 but they were texting before she moved and all through out the year. He says they were friends beforehand (we were all friends) and confided in each other. She said she envied my life with him and pursued him and let the lines blur. She lived next door to us before she moved. Somewhere in July or August 2015 the sexting started while she lived in Texas (according to them both as he deleted google where i found all info). She came for a visit in 8/2015 and stayed at my house 2 of the 5 days she was here the other days she was next door at her moms. She was sexting him while at my house pretending to be my friend, while trying to sleep with my husband. It did not get physical according to them both) In Sept 2017 she moved back to her moms next door and literally became my best friend, we spent almost everyday together. They hid this from me. They both say it was not rekindled but i am pissed she could come into my house and act as if she hadn't wronged me that takes a really sick person to do this. That he would allow that, he says he didn't want to but i had immediately connected with her new baby, which was true and he was desperate for me not to know because he didnt want me to leave him. I am such a fool. She spent holidays with us before and after she moved, i hosted her daughters 2nd birthday, she stayed at my house while we took our son to college. I have to be reminded of her every time i pull up and walk to my house because she lives next door and he made videos of himself in my house, its like it is tainted and toxic for me now and i feel like a prisoner here, humiliated to be outside and jilted to be inside.. There are other things, porn, massages and websites. I am so devastated, I keep asking the repeating questions trying to wrap my head around this person who says they love me but devastated me to the core. I am the need to know person and am upset its trickling out. I deserve the truth and i am tired of i cant remember... He is remorseful and sickened my what he has done to me and seeing me in pain is devastating to him we are seeking counseling individually and together.. I started being silent about it not really talking about it, i feel like he takes my silence as i am over it, but i am not i still hurt deeply..

I'll never know what happened

What about a spouse who lives in alternate reality - she won't acknowledge the affair lasted a year -she believes it was a just a fling! Recovery isn't possible because she isn't capable of telling the truth - she has lied so many times she actually believes the lies and is quite willing to live in her alternate reality and wants me to join her! I'm not ever going to live in her alternate reality!

3 D Days

How about husband comes home Dec, 2018 tells me he lied about going to Christmas Party and was out with his Physicians Assistant because holiday party was on a Friday and they kissed. That’s it. He kept to threat story for 4.5 months and i told him no one believes you after we had come from couples counseling. He said i tell you the truth. We kissed, only kissed starting in October. Then they broke up. Because he wouldn’t have sex with her (. A lie). Then she proceeded to have affair with his junior partner. He felt betrayed by both and had to win. Her back. I saw Amex bill for. Gifts,Uber. Ride homes every night, out for. Drinks. But he Said I never had sex with her. I had begged him in front of therapist for truth a few weeks earlier. I told him there are a wall of lies between us and I’m stuck. I need the truth. He lied. Through some unscrupulous methods, i found out that they had been having sex from October, he told her. He loved her and she told him she loved him. Prior to coming clean about sex, his story was emotional affair, the had a higher connection and he had sexual feelings that he never acted out. I also found out they were planning to go away but got caught. Truth, he started having sex with her two weeks after i asked him if there was someone else, that we were broken and had no intimacy. He got defensive, had a tantrum. And denied,denied, denied. This affair. Had nothing to do with partner, he was already doing unspeakable things with her. I found out texted him, he finally confirmed, i went to hospital she had left and i trashed her office. I still think there is more. I try to explain that the sex is secondary to all the lies. I nearly. Was committed. I think my husband has narcissistic personality disorder. It’s been 11 days since full details of affair have come out (if its really full). He isn’t dealing with questions and reasoning behind my need to know . He cant take it lol. now the story is he didn’t love her,he liked her she did this PA that appreciated and said he just wanted blowjobs at work because he hated work. I told him go stay at Hotel for few days. I dont know what to do. There is so much more to this story, horrendous details but i cant write forever. So in closing timeline,details never added up. I. Always say if it dont add up you have done the math wrong. Don’t know what to do,I’m still fragile but so angry