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

Why People Cheat: The Fog of Self-Deception (Part 1)

Why People Cheat: A Three Part Series

Part 1: The Fog of Self-Deception
Part 2: Were They Predisposed to Cheat?
Part 3: Justifications of the Unfaithful

Cover more ground faster with the life-changing experience of EMS Weekend for couples.

This isn't another light-and-fluffy program that only scratches the surface of your pain. The EMS Weekend Experience is a safe space for you and your partner to start putting the pieces of your life back together, transform your trauma and begin healing from infidelity. Skeptical about the effectiveness of this experience? Don't be! Backed by a slew of previous participant testimonials, EMS Weekend delivers results month after month for countless couples.

During EMS Weekend, we won't shame the unfaithful spouse nor blame the betrayed spouse. What we will do is pair you with a small community of other couples and an expert therapist - all of whom have experienced infidelity firsthand - as well as provide comprehensive resources to help you kick-start your healing journey.

Sign Up Now!

"What Was I Supposed To Do?"

A while back, a couple from another state attended our EMS Weekend. To travel as far as they did to get help was noteworthy, but the unfaithful mate had yet to comprehend what he had done and why he did it.

To say he was defensive would be putting it mildly.

During a session, while discussing the importance of taking personal responsibility, he cried out with indignation, "Dang it, Rick...she came out of the room buck naked. What was I supposed to do?"

I turned to the women in the group and asked, "Ladies, what would you do if a guy came out of the room 'buck naked'?"

"Call 911," they all replied in unison.

The Fog of Self-Deception

It's tragic, but the bounds of self-deception seem to have no end when it comes to justifying marital infidelity. Do we see what we do? Do we recognize what it must be like to live on the other side of us? Can we even begin to comprehend the consequences of our actions? That we would betray those to whom we've committed is horrifying, but that we would fail to comprehend our own self-betrayal is inconceivable...or is it?

Lest you feel judged, I'm preaching to myself. I am astounded by how distorted my thinking became as I plummeted into my affair. I deceived myself into thinking I was a good guy for "helping" my affair partner, that I was giving her what she needed. I had obviously married the wrong person, therefore, having an affair was justified. I was powerless over my feelings, therefore, there was nothing I could do. I deserved to be happy so didn't the means justify the end? It's tragic, but I could go on and on about the silly fabrications I used to justify my devastating choices.

Why do people have affairs? Why is it that some cheat while others do not? If it was you, why did you do it? If there is any one question that baffles those affected by infidelity, it's this one. Even worse, the difficulty of answering this question exceeds all others. To say it mildly, the answers are complex.

Without A Why. . .

With no answer to the "why" question, how does one keep this from happening again?

How do you know the right course of action when you don't know why it happened?

Or if the answer to the "why" question is incorrect, will you address the proper problem?

How do you determine what made you or your relationship vulnerable to betrayal?

Failure to uncover the proper answer to the "why" question puts a couple at risk of simply sweeping cobwebs, rather than killing the spider.

In the early stages of discovery, raging emotions inhibit rational thought and cloud the judgement of both spouses. Initially, answers to the "why" question are typically full of blame toward the victim in an attempt to push away the flood of guilt and shame. Somehow it wasn't their fault. At best, the unfaithful spouse takes personal responsibility and agrees to explore why they chose as they did. If this isn't their first rodeo, they may have already discovered (and either disclosed or hid) their answers, but apart from that scenario, it takes time to uncover the answer. There isn't a roadside to recovery that isn't littered by excuses and justifications.

False Information

Complicating matters, the injured spouse all too often works from the mistaken notion of "assumed similarities" to supply their own answer to the "why" question. Meaning, they assume their mate's motives would be similar to their own if they were in the same situation. The answers supplied by their mate just don't make sense. They don't seem severe enough to justify the devastation created by their choices. The betrayed often thinks, surely there must be some dark secret in their background for them to have acted in such a way. At other times, they supply answers that are commiserate with the negative lens through which they now view their mate, or they assign answers to the question which allow them to justify their responses to the made-up answers. Before you know it, no one understands their own feelings, let alone the feelings and motives of the other person.

Over the next few weeks in this series, "Why People Cheat," we'll explore some of the reasons some people cheat and others don't. Hopefully, it can be of some use to those struggling to discover and process the answers to the "why" question.

If you're interested in exploring the "why" and how to pursue healing, I genuinely hope you'll consider attending our in-person EMS Weekend. It will help both of you better understand what it will take to reconcile and move forward as an individual or as a couple regardless of the state of your marriage.

Cover more ground faster with the life-changing experience of EMS Weekend for couples.

This isn't another light-and-fluffy program that only scratches the surface of your pain. The EMS Weekend Experience is a safe space for you and your partner to start putting the pieces of your life back together, transform your trauma and begin healing from infidelity. Skeptical about the effectiveness of this experience? Don't be! Backed by a slew of previous participant testimonials, EMS Weekend delivers results month after month for countless couples.

During EMS Weekend, we won't shame the unfaithful spouse nor blame the betrayed spouse. What we will do is pair you with a small community of other couples and an expert therapist - all of whom have experienced infidelity firsthand - as well as provide comprehensive resources to help you kick-start your healing journey.

Sign Up Now!



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This is the toughest and most

This is the toughest and most painful part for me to grasp....it's happened twice to me. I really struggle with this.... The sad part I am realizing is I feel like its my fault for being so trusting, blind and vulnerable to love...why?


"they supply answers that are commiserate with the negative lens through which they now view their mate " I think I do this because I am tired of trying to figure out the WHY. The WHY feels like an excuse. The WHY feels like me trying to figure out how I can blame myself for his affairs.

i would say ...

the whys....can only be about insecurity, shallowness, greed, selfishness and narcisism on the part of the betrayer.  I don't believe there is any justifiable why, when you have an honest relationship.  certainly, two parties contribute to why the marriage was dysfunctional.  betrayed and betrayer have responsiblity for that.  but only one (usually) made the decision to have an affair. 

having an affair is weak and cowardly. i dare any of you to say otherwise.

anything other why just provides an illegitimate excuse and helps the betrayer justify there actions.  there's no justifiable excuse for ever having an affair.  if your relationship is that bad, be honest and get out of it or be strong and work through it. 

either way, it's more honorable than having an affair and permanently damaging your partner, children, family and yourself...forever.



I couldn't have said it

I couldn't have said it better.

i would say

I think your so right, it has been almost 5 years and 6 polygraphs that he has failed to pass yet. Always has a excuse believe me I don't buy any of them. I truly believe he loved her and cant get over her. She is no beauty at all and he has lost his family friends and everything that was real in his life. I have never been through such hell in my life and it is directly due to his infidelity. He cheated every chance he got any women that wiggled in front of him he went for it with no hesitation to his family. He sure had me fooled for 37 years of marriage, He wont leave me alone says he wants this marriage and doesn't do any work to repair it.. Its so sad that some women and men have to jump into bed with anyone that gives them attention.


Rick: Could you comment on Dr. Laura's statement: "While I will never excuse a man for cheating, I will often understand why he did"? In a marriage where the spouse is not fulfilling her role as sexual partner to her spouse - often over a period of years - is there less culpability for the other (who might have tried everything under the sun to change her frigidity) who finally gives in? It seems to me she's asked him to fight a battle for years upon years without any spiritual armor (because she's effectively stolen it and shoved it in the closet along with her sex drive) and while chronically spiritually undernourished (translated: dispirited, frustrated, and resentful). She's neither fed nor protected him from the onslaught of the enemy as she is Biblically called to do. Yet, when - after years of neglect and its accompanying resentment - he finally falls prey to the temptress, everyone calls him the scumbag and pats the "poor helpless faithful wifeykins" on the head. Who is the victim and who is to blame?

Your betrayer is not worthy?

Does anyone else get in an occasional funk, where you feel that you spouse (the betrayer) is just not worthy of your marriage, devotion and even the effort? I'm right there, right now. Feeling disgusted, disappointed and embarrassed to stay with someone who did such trashy things. It seems to be a reoccurring feeling, coming up for at least one day of every week. 10 months since D-Day. Shouldn't I be past this by now?


I am excited about this series. My husband has yet to tell me the why about his affair. I know he loves me, but why in the world would he risk everything for a crazy woman who he admits he hardly knows. We are in counseling, but he gets defensive every time. I really want to know the why and he just won't share this.


In my case, I was deathly afraid of digging into the reason why I had this neurotic attachment to someone I hardly knew. I'm not saying your husband is the same, but in my case sexual abuse at a young age caused dissociation of this part of my life. After confession of everything, I came to a "locked box" (my abuse memories) I was almost more fearful to open than I feared God. Add to this the abusers use of keeping secrets that was imprinted on my brain and exposing things to the light was very difficult for me. In this suppressed part of me, I was confusing the person with my long-lost abuser.
If I hadn't confessed every shameful thing I was aware of in my life I had ever done to my wife, I believe I would never had recovered the memory of my abuse, it's the only way to be free.

Thank You

Thank you for saying this - it sounds insightful & like you’ve done some of the hard work of understanding how the affair happened. I am a woman who had an affair for very similar reasons. After my sexual abuse occurred - I dissociated much of my life and became very attached to having my own safe, privately defined world in fantasy which was easy to go to during any struggle in life or with my husband. Obliterating that world, becoming present and needing to go in and through the often harrowing sexual abuse healing along with the affair recovery is incredibly challenging but worth it. I’ve found Brainspotting therapy essential - and I’m grateful I have a willing partner despite the incredible harm I’ve caused because of my unresolved trauma.

Answering the "Why?"

I have a question. My husband, who [is a public figure], had a two-yer affair with a woman whom he introduced me to and watched us become friends, after their affair had stared. We went on double dates with her and her husband. Our children became friends. Our families did things together. All while they were carrying on. To say I was blind--sided (and, nearly 4 years later, it still takes my breath away), is a gigantic understatement. He was caught, and continued to lie and use his power to keep the lie going by inserting his power over the other couple. He was caught for 8 weeks, and I didn't know it, before he was forced to come clean and confess. All the while, he lied about other women. To this day, I do not know the whole truth.

Our most private pain ended up on the front page of every newspaper in the state and the top story on the news. News anchors, whom I friends with, had to report this choking back tears, themselves. It's been almost four years of me finding out. I am still in the marriage, mostly because we have 3 children. My son begged me not stay and not get divorced. My husband is a good dad. And, he bends over backwards to do for our family. I think this is his way of being repentant.

Herein lies the problem and continued heartache for me: he has not let the truth set him free. He will die before he is completely honest and he refuses to dig deep to search for the WHY so it doesn't happen again. He says there is no reason why. It just happened, he says. Meanwhile, I am not letting my guard down and cannot truly move forward in trust and love--and, frankly, in intimacy--without the depth of the why.

Is it truly possible to move forward--really move forward in a healthy and loving way--without knowing the why and the truth? I do not think there is a way, and if there is, I am in search of the HOW.

I would appreciate and value any productive and meaningful feedback. I am stuck.

[Edited by admin 2/8/2019 2:45 PM]

I am so sorry. I, too, do not

I am so sorry. I, too, do not know the why. My husband had a baby with me while carrying on with his 2 year affair partner. She sent me baby gifts. He linked our lives together for what purpose? It boggles my mind at how cruel someone has to be to do something like that. I hope you get your answers. You are not alone.

Die before honest?

If he will die before he is completely honest is that a union you can be happy in? Is restoration possible without honesty? Is that someone you respect for how they are dealing with their mistakes? I hope you can see how much you deserve and how much God wants good for you. There is no prize for being a miserable martyr except misery. I am learning that and excited about the freedom of not being on the crazy merry go round with an habitual offender who can't get real. Life is too short and I there is so much growing, loving, serving and evolving to be had but not if tethered to a boulder. We cannot continue to accept emotional abuse because of a toxic hope that doesn't materialize or a potential that will never be met. I wish you strength sister!! xo

The reason

I think the reason is because he feels powerful doing that. His position in the government wasn’t enough. When he saw you being friends with TOW he felt like an arab prince. He needs to find other healthy sources of satisfaction and get detox of power addiction. I think he knows that but he knows this is a very bad thing so he doesn’t want to admit it. I know you love your kids but be careful with the decision of remaining married. He needs to get through his mess and clean it in order to commit with you again. And the way to do it is admitting to you the real reason.

Knowing the Why and the Truth

My dear friend, I am so sorry, and just as the other person commented, you are not alone. My heart breaks for your situation, as it does for mine and the others here. What is it with unfaithful partners putting their spouses in contact with their affair partners while they are cheating?? Mine did the same! It’s completely creepy and disgusting and doubly hurtful.

As for your question, I am sad to say I do not think it is possible to move forward in a healthy and mutually loving way without knowing the why and the truth of the infidelity after some reasonable amount of time. As Rick will tell you, it takes some cheaters longer than others to come down out of the clouds and give full disclosure, and even understand why, maybe that is your husband’s situation; but if it has been some time and they simply refuse, that seems different to me. If—after an unfaithful spouse has ended all affairs and come down out of the clouds—he/she still will not divulge the why and the truth, then, in my opinion, something destructive is hiding, and it is only a matter of time before it rears up again. You may be able to go on together for a while, for the kids, or because you have committed love for your unfaithful spouse, or because it is financially necessary, or because your spouse now checks all the boxes and gives the appearance of being back in the marriage, but unless you know it all, the why and the truth, then I’m afraid you are just biding your time. This is just my opinion, but unless the unfaithful spouse comprehends and is able to communicate to you the why and the truth fully and with remorse, it won’t work. You are worth having promises kept to you, worth having the full truth, and worth having amends made to you.

I’ll share my story to explain my answer. Fifteen years ago I was devastated by the discovery of my husband’s infidelity. Through church, we were directed to Affair Recovery (AR). We had three small children, and soon a fourth. My husband was definitely in the “fallen in love” category, convinced he had found his soul mate and never loved me; he totally re-wrote our marital history to conclude he had never been happy. Our lives were in utter turmoil as all of you can relate, but he agreed to end the affair and we dug in and worked hard. AR, counseling, spiritual directors, books, retreats, you name it, we did it. I worked on healing and my own discoveries of negative contributions I made in our marriage, and he worked on putting safeguards in place that would help me feel safe in our relationship and on his own personal issues that had allowed the deceit and unfaithfulness. A year later we renewed our vows, and moved to a new city to start again.

Rick encouraged my husband to continue counseling, anger-management, and some form of affair recovery in our new town, but although I continued in counseling, he did not. This gave me a queasy feeling, but I couldn’t make him, and we continued on. For a while, he was very intentional about whom he hired and what situations he put himself in, to avoid new problems with women. We had weekly date nights, quarterly get-aways, family dinners, recreation together, vacations, marriage church groups, daily couple prayer, retreats, book studies, you name it. I was terrified, but as the years passed, my fear subsided and we created new memories. However, deep down, I had a nagging feeling that something was amiss. Although after the affair my husband said the right words as far as apologizing for the affair, the right feeling was never behind it. It was as if he was mad at me that it had happened. He never acted like a remorseful man thankful for being forgiven and given a second chance with our beautiful family. There was something withdrawn, something tense that I couldn’t put my finger on, but he jumped through all the family hoops, helped with the kids, was home for dinner, etc., so there was nothing concrete I could point to. All I could verbalize to him was that I felt some distance between us. I felt like he was disconnected in some way, but isn’t that a common complaint between women and men?

Fast forward fifteen years, past all sorts of life events: raising four children, burying our oldest daughter after a car accident at age 16, grieving, going back to school, building a company together, being sued by former friends, succeeding to build a very successful business, watching children graduate from high school and college, then halt. All of a sudden, my husband of 28 years is moving out and I am replaced at our company and, I now know, replaced in his bed. It took two more years of abandonment, divorce, and annulment work until I finally discovered the lies he had kept from me not just for 15 years since the last sexual affair, but from the time we dated, were engaged, and married. Lies that did not come out when we supposedly had “full disclosure” with Rick at AR, did not come out after our daughter died, did not come out in years and years of counseling, and because of those kept lies, our marriage was doomed to fail. Had my husband, at any time, revealed the truth, we could have either restored our marriage, or, ended it sooner and saved me years that I faithfully devoted to him, assuming he was who he appeared to be.

What I am trying to say is, I don’t believe a marriage can stand on a bed of lies, or deceit or omissions, no matter how hard everyone tries to keep images in place. If there is something an unfaithful spouse will not share, my feeling is, there is a deeper problem with the marriage that has not been revealed. This is not hopeful or positive, and I hope your story ends up differently, but I want you to know there is hope either way.

It has taken me years of devastation over the destruction of our marriage and family to come to grips with my situation. But I’m going to be ok. I know that now. And I do have hope. And most importantly, I am now living in truth. I’m not going to pretend I don’t wish things had turned out differently, meaning with true confessions and true re-commitment, but I would not trade living alone in the truth for living with someone who is keeping lies and omissions. I am grateful to be out of the stress and confusion of what I now know was a lack of full disclosure and deceitfulness of my partner. I believed for years that saving my marriage and loving my husband no matter the sacrifice were what I was called to do, what God expected of me, and was the way to beat back the enemy. I now know that for me in my situation, living in the Truth is what defeats the father of lies, and I do not believe God calls me to live in a relationship without honesty and full disclosure. Living in truth and full knowledge, even if it is just your own, is a wonderful thing.

You brought tears to my eyes,

You brought tears to my eyes, I have been separated for 4 years, my husband moved out after his second affair. That I know of could have been more , I choose to live alone and with no more lies and worries, I feel like I can breath now. I still have hard days and I can’t tell you why, I don’t even know. I don’t love him anymore, I can’t stand him I think he has issues and I want nothing to do with him, so why the bad days. Thank you for sharing your story I don’t feel so alone


You have bad days because you are still mourning what you thought your life would be. I was diagnosed with PTSD.
You probably have bad days because you lost trust in people and see the world in a very tainted way. They took more feom us than trust.

Thank you for sharing

I so appreciate your honesty in sharing your story here. That will stay with me a long time. You are strong and brave and you’ve been through so much. God bless.

You touched y heartwen ai needed it. Thak you!

I have been numb and detached for months. I feel safe here. I am tired of lies and feeling hopeful. I lost track of the timeline. I just know it waa terrible when I found texts from other women. He denied me and betrayed me numerous times. I know he slept with six but tried with others. My husband cannot drink. He is an alcoholic but pretends he is not. He is two separate people but in order to be free I need to leave my husband along with the addiction. I am tired of lies. Tired of worrying.

Me too......

First, I would like to say that I am so very sorry for your heart crushing pain. I know this anguish and it is devastating. It takes your breath away, puts your heart into a vise, ties your gut into a knot and smothers your spirit. I am in a similar situation with very public disclosures of my spouses misbehaviors, not the high profile front page which must have just killed you, but widely shared in our town where we are know and respected. There was a time when I could not leave my house and going out in public sent me into full panic attacks which required anxiety meds to just make it to the grocery store. Getting out of bed was chore but staying in bed was terror too.

I asked my husband to move into our rental house which was vacant as I needed space and time. Our business went into madness as our employees were devastated by this reveal as well. They carried the public shame as well, as I am sure all who worked for your husband have too. We lived separately as we worked diligently and painfully to keep our business from collapsing and to keep a hostile takeover from happening from within. Loads of time and energy went to this so the focus was on that and my own pain was secondary, a place I was very familiar with. Our adult children worked in the business with us so they had to face this embarrassing and hurtful information about their father and figure out how to manage their relationship with him. My heart bleeds for them as for your children too.

After a year of what felt like a hurricane at high seas, counseling, meds to avoid panic, meds to sleep, EMDR therapy......... My husband asked me to participate in the Affair Recovery program EMS online. We had some of the most frank and honest conversations of our 35 years of marriage during this course work. It is intense if both people are fully invested in the process. Regarding the ownership of his misdeeds and full disclosure of all of his infidelities during the course, it took many weeks for him to get to full disclosure. Each new event was a new stab in my heart, many affairs and liaisons over the length of our marriage including one lengthy one with our secretary who was also a "friend" of mine. This one still circles through my mind even though it was 25 years ago. The new knowledge of what our marriage really was, (very different than my vision) haunts me. The pervasive thoughts roll in with the smallest trigger and color my days.

The interesting concept about the truth setting you free is that that freedom takes heavy tolls. Just because he has confessed does not leave him free of the consequences of his deeds. When my husband finally got to full disclosure, got everything out on my plate, he even took a lie detector test to prove to me he had told me everything, I was left with a mountain of hurt, lies and betrayals. This did not set me free, it laid out clearly how little I knew about the man I chose to trust my love and life to.

The only gem I have found in this experience is that without the public nature of our mess, my husband would never have seen and owned the problem with his behavior and never understood the damage it was causing our marriage and our children. He needed to be pushed off the cliff and clubbed with a post to look at himself and make a decision to choose our marriage or his narcissistic self. Unfortunately the fall out is so painful for me and I am sure for you as well.

He has chosen to stay and try to learn a whole new way of being in this life. This is no easy task but he seems to truly want to change. I have stayed for reasons I am not sure I totally understand but hopefully we will both grow into better people. It seems in this day there is more shame in staying than in leaving. I remain quite guarded and the trust is slow to return. Hard memories pop up all too often but I am more bold about having the necessary conversations and let my feelings be known.

We are approaching the 1 year mark from full disclosure, 2 year mark from the most recent "discovery" and 35 years of a "marriage" filled with many betrayals. We completed the EMSO course, continue with our Married for Life group which keeps the hard topics on the table and we are continuing to work at regaining some semblance of a marriage. This journey is long, hard and at times discouraging. I would not encourage you to push for full disclosure without the safety of a huge support team on both sides. Affair Recovery has created a structure of support so that when you are ready to fall apart with the weight of the information you may get there is help to keep you from destruction.
I hold you and your family in my heart


Your story is heartbreaking as well and so much of what you say resonates with me. You have an incredible gift for expressing thoughts and feelings! Yes, the journey moving forward is long and painful, but I am encouraged for you that your husband took the initiative with AR. For many of us, that’s not the case. Instead of ownership and initiative we get defensiveness and misplaced blame. I longed for and invited my ex husband to return to AR and he refused. I agree with you that a support network is crucial when receiving full disclosure. I also agree that just because your spouse has confessed doesn’t exonerate him from making amends for crushing your precious heart. But if he has truly chosen to change, live in truth, and choose committed love, he will want to honor you in this way. I hope and pray he does. If the truth is there, the pain will ease in time.

me too

Thank you for your thoughts. We are working steadily and I know that my struggle to let trust grow is holding me back. It is so hard when it has been broken so many times. I do believe that he wants our marriage to remain, grow stronger and be healthy for both of us. I have so many protective walls that need to be unbuilt one brick at a time. It will take time and we are not young so I hope this work is not in vain again.

Sounds familiar.

I found out 2 years ago that my husband (12 years older than me, my one-and only from age 17, father of my seven children, well respected and loved Anglican priest, as far as I knew in a ’model’ marriage, family and ministry with me) ‘had been’ in a ‘liaison’ for decades with a woman who was active in our church - and they had completely kept it hidden. And yes, she was supposedly my friend, and yes, we did things together as families. I believed we lived a shared life. With hindsight and after lots of excellent counselling, the blips with question marks in our marriage make sense and I realise how gullible and trusting I was - and manipulated, and, effectively, abused. Totally blindfolded and totally -and again with hindsight - blind. And with PTSD, now manageable. He’s now 80 and has Parkinson’s. And thinks we should be reconciled - by which I think he means I should forget all about it all and never talk about anything to do with it ever at all and be constantly bright and happy and sunshiny and more ‘positive’. It’s totally surreal and bizarre. Yes, I’ve forgiven him - I knew immediately that I had to make the decision to forgive or else I would destroy myself. And we live somewhat separately under the same roof; and I’m recognising that I’m beginning to grow and flourish in my own person. I can do no more for him or for us without him truly owning and taking full responsibility for the choices he has repeatedly made. His self-deception is almost more scary than his double life.
I know some facts - more and more in the first few months - but that’s very different from feeling any connection - or trust or safety with him. I believe I love him - now with a love that honours my own integrity and autonomy and has been able to choose boundaries. At 68 I’ve grown up (again).
Is there healing for us? At present I see no sign thereof! But I do believe there could be - and that’s not in my hands. I believe there Is healing for me, scary/exciting as that is! I too am responsible for the choices that I make, each and every day.
Lisa Taylor’s ‘Beyond Betrayal) has been a Godsend as have lots of other books and online resources. The church would prefer to play the denial game to my mind. My doctor has been brilliantly supportive. EMDR helped me. And Alexander Technique. And an hour walking most days, and regular rests.
I don’t know if there’s hope for your marriage; that takes two. I DO know that there is hope for you, and healing, abundant life ahead for you.
Lundy Bancroft’s ‘Should I Stay or Should I Leave’ is very helpful, and ‘The Five Step Boundary Solution’ by Vicki Tidwell Palmer. You can and must make your own choices - which can be changed as and when appropriate. It’s not going to be easy but it is worthwhile. Don’t allow bitterness to take root in you. Tell your own truth and don’t badmouth your husband. Or excuse his behaviour. The person is to be forgiven - the behaviour is inexcusable. Holding your hand in the darkness- and believing in the light.
I hope somehow some of this helps.
Blessings on you and yours - and I’d value your prayer for me and mine. Thank you.
That’s enough of my ramblings. Be encouraged.

Self deception

Yes!! How right you are! The self deception is more scary than the double life!! It is unreal. And it’s not until we ourselves realize what has been going on that we see how they’ve created a false image of us in their minds to justify their behavior! Which for years causes us to doubt ourselves despite having been the faithful truthful ones. I love that you are flourishing in your own person and I agree, you can do no more for the relationship until he takes full ownership. You give a lot of great advice, and to answer your question, yes there is healing! I hear it in your voice! That doesn’t mean the pain vanishes, but you have grasped hope.

Thank you!

Thank you for your encouraging comments.
It’s awful to know that so many others experience the horrors of deception and betrayal - and also comforting to know that it’s not just me that this has happened/ is happening to, that I’m not alone. Healing and integrity and restoration of all that is good - for all the betrayed and their children and loved ones And (ouch!) for the unfaithful too.
‘Time for true repentance and amendment of life and the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit’
for us all. And absolutely no over-spiritualising!

Still justifying it

Three-plus years after I exposed my wife's 2-year emotional affair with the married youth pastor at our former church, she still feels it is ok to justify her actions.

Ar the time, I was going through the toughest period of my life as I had lost two jobs over a 2-year span and we were on the verge of bankruptcy, which we eventually filed just before the affair was exposed. So I was an angry individual with God and myself as my self esteem, self confidence and self worth were shattered by unemployment and not being able to support our family.

In turn, I turned to my wife for support. What i received was disconnect and her emotional affair. She even had the gall to kick me out of our bedroom after I lost my second job when I needed her the most and that is when her affair really took off.

She said I was to clingy and needy and was smothering her. Looking back, hell yes I was clingy. I needed my spouse to step up to the table and be there for me during the worst stretch of my life, not go and be an unfaithful whore! I was always there for her for support during multiple relationship breakdowns with friends and family and also for two major surgeries that took her out of action for weeks on end.

So now, 3-plus years later, a ton of Christian individual and marital counseling, a 2500-mile cross country move, brand new jobs for each of us, and not knowing a single person in our new area, she is still just as disconnected as D-Day. O am so angry, bitter and resentful that she has made barely any attempts at reconciliation that I have pretty much told myself that when our son graduates high school in 2 years, that will be the end of my marriage and I will gut it out until then.

I have prayed, read every book I can find on affair recovery, being a better man of God and a better husband, along with listening to podcasts and watching your videos, and all I can do is work on me and my side side of the fence. My wife has done very little work and makes no effort to reconnect. Just mad as hell and I am done with trying to make things better on my part. Wish we would have just divorced, like she was leaning toward at the start, instead of going through all this fake garbage for the past few years. Her toxicity has kept my heart shattered and devastated. Though by being faith fil to God and my marital covenant that a miracle would happen, but God hasn't listened to my prayers in years regarding my marriage.


After 20 months of wondering about my own partners dishonesty , I have come to the conclusion that some people are just weaker than others. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone had secrets and everyone is human. However some people have lots of ego and little humility. Some have lots of confidence but (at times) are short on intellect . Some have emotional needs but they are unable to voice these needs and things build up. Marriages have fault lines and can explode under a variety of circumstances.
In my humble opinion, affairs do not just happen. They happen because two people decide to do something wrong in a moment of time. It is the only situation I can think of where there is 200 percent responsibility and where both parties (if adults) are equally responsible. However, some people are worth redemption and a second chance. Some will prove themselves not worthy. The difficult part is living with someone while working on that process. I decided to give my husband a second chance but I also decided to make my life safer. The verdict is still out on our future and I have no idea which way it will go. I was given hope when my husband ended his 6 week affair before I found out. He also apologized many times, gave me his passwords, never goes out of town without me and disconnected from the OW and all related friends. However that has not been enough to sooth my broken heart. So maybe divorce is the best intellectual choice but it is the hardest emotional choice.

Still justifying it

Truth hurts and I should know. There is human involvement here. God didnt say hey go have an affair. Just like he wont change her mind and be the loving person you married. That will be her decision. Which leaves you with a decision. Stay your course and continue to pray for her knowing that it may take longer than you think or move on and continue to pray for her. Your love hasn't and wont change or her. All the changes you made were for her, under the umbrella that it's for us. How about a change for you. You deserve it


You have every right to be mad as hell. I am sorry you have been put through this. I believe your faithfulness to God and to your marriage will be rewarded in some way even if your marriage does not make it. I too questioned why God didn’t answer my prayers and honor my obedience and faithfulness and save my marriage. It took a long time for me to realize God wanted to take me out of a bondage of lies that wasn’t going to change. I wish you freedom, truth, and peace.

I am truly sorry to hear your

I am truly sorry to hear your story. I have been unfaithful and attended an EMS weekend which helped me and my wife reconnect together. Not sure what the dynamic is in your marriage, but please be mindful of the research that states "most women who cheat have already checked out of the relationship". Wish you the best. Either way, there is no easy path.

No why? No way.

My husband will also go to his grave before likely admitting even to himself the truth about his actions. His desire to keep it all hidden and not be repentant after I left has led him to want to divorce me (the ultimate act of trying to keep his secrets unknown). I don't know who, or much of anything except that he says it was all online. But since I discovered excessive picture texts went back 10 years who knows what's really true?? I moved out and it was 5 months before he said anything to me! That something was that he wants a divorce. No closure, just justifications, blame, etc. I am having a harder time than expected working through the grief. I just can't believe that after I left he didn't have an epiphany to choose his 22 year marriage over sexting affairs and pornography?! I paid for the EMS weekend and he said he "didn't feel God calling him to go." Such distorted thinking! I know in my heart God is releasing me! I will have a better future without him than with him! I am just ready for my grief and forgiveness to get onboard so my mind can be free!


Amen sister. I feel the same way. It'll happen for both of us.

Why People Cheat

The comments that have been offered on this posting are heartrending. I am so sorry for the unresolved relationships with adulterous spouses who refuse to tell the truth, empathize with the betrayed & take responsibility for healing. I know the pain of that as my unfaithful wife lied to me for many years about the extent of her adultery & then when I stumbled on it resisted exploring the realities & the reasons. The result was, as Rick memorably puts it, sweeping away the cobwebs without killing the spider. I finally realized that our marriage was languishing amid the secrets & lies, so I confronted my wife with an insistence that we deal with the history fully. That was a risk on my part, but it paid off when she realized I was serious & would not be put off by her self-pity & emotional bullying. Since then we've done a lot of work & there has been substantial healing. Insights from Esther Perel that I & we have found especially helpful: Often people stray not out of unhappiness with their spouse but because they're trying to find a version of themselves they lost & feel the need to rediscover. Or, people stray because they're trying to fix something broken in themselves, often broken by experiences in their family of origin. Both were true in my wife's case. She recognized this alongside giving up her previous tendency to blame me for her adultery.

Finally, here's a very good & very brief book that I recommend: "How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful" by Linda MacDonald, published in 2010 by Healing Counsel Press. I got a copy for my wife & gave it to her after reading it through myself – at that point she was still resistant, but she ultimately found it helpful. It's really terrific & it's only 96 pages long!

How long after you discovered

How long after you discovered your wife’s infidelity did it take her to own up and quit blaming you?

When I stumbled on the truth,

When I stumbled on the truth, she did own up but went into two kinds of emotional meltdowns: one was a meltdown about how ashamed she was & the other was a meltdown about how it was my fault. The combined effect was to bully me into not going further into it, not insisting that we talk about it. Again, it was brushing away the cobwebs without dealing with the spider, to use Rick's metaphor. My upbringing did not encourage me in emotional transparency & I was conditioned to tamp down my own rights – actually to the extent that I dissociated from the whole mess & life went on. When it all came bubbling up inside me again I realized I needed to insist on the full truth, full discussion, full repentance, full empathy & so on. So how long between disclosure & my catalyzing the crisis of truth? – 17 years!

this has been hard for me as

this has been hard for me as well. My wife had a 4-month emotional affair with a coworker of hers who I considered a friend. It's been over 3 years since D-day and she is still distant and angry and won't deal with her childhood abuse and dad's emotional neglect. She says "it's in the past, and I'm over it," which of course is BS. It's why she has control issues and is obsessed with security financial and otherwise. We had a year of professional counseling which was helpful for me, but since she barely did any of the work asked and twisted our counselor's instruction to justify emotional distance from me, it was almost pointless. I know she isn't connected with the AP anymore because she is lonely, separated from the world outside of work, super defensive, and watches tv in the bedroom alone and drink enough wine to get numb, and plays games on her phone to add to the numb. All that, and she's pissed at God. She always has, as my son tells her, "lame-ass excuses" to not come to church or small group, or even go out on a date with me.
I want to go back to marriage counseling with a counselor who specializes in affair recovery, and have found one, but she won't give me an answer one way or the other if she will go. Again come up with lame-ass excuses as to why there isn't time/money/etc., so it's super frustrating to be doing all the work of healing on my own. I get flashes of anger on occasion which is an excuse as to why she feels "emotionally unsafe". But it sucks because she's the one that triggers the anger. I believe God can do miracles, and she listened to God enough to break off the affair and confess, but know she's too pissed at Him to want to do anything. So, I'm left frustrated and with a barely communicative room mate.

What answer would you have

What answer would you have had from the men? Would their response have been different from that of the women?

I know Why.... Now what?

I'm looking forward to the next part in this series. My husband had an emotional affair with his childhood family friend, who is divorced for the second time.The hardest part is WHY?
We had been going thru a stressful time last winter. He was not really there for me. I found out about there emotional affair on my own. It has been difficult for me to let it go. My husband completely destroyed my trust. I am trying to move past the hurt, but reminded everyday. My husband says it ended and no contact has occurred, but he is still connected to her on social media. He won't delete her saying it will cause problems with his mother and her mother. So tell me Why......

Not good enough

That’s not good enough. He may think it is but it is not. Ask him to do an AR group, weekend, or at least counseling. He’s still putting other women (the two moms) and his image ahead of you. And if he’s still connected with her on social media, he’s still connected. Trust your instincts.

Not good enough

I agree. Is he living to please his mother or does he want to save his marriage. My husband and I struggle daily but the social media connection had to go on day one. He did that part and then I deleted the phone and email parts. I did not ask his permission. We share devices and I felt it was ok. He did not care.
I am dumbfounded that people do not recognize that Facebook is fantasy world! Men and women who have Facebook affairs appear lost in a world of selfies, make believe and fantasy. A world where insecure people live for the likes and attention of strangers because they are not capable of real intimacy with the people they propose to love.


Situations like this make card giving impossible.

Does anyone have any ideas?

Card giving, Sara Elizabeth

I would say write your own card. We're 5 years out, and I still write my own alot, expressing how I feel at the time. Time and circumstances will affect how you feel at that time. Your husband needs to hear how you're doing in your recovery journey. Be very honest, and if you can't express the words, "I love you" at that moment, then don't. I have been following your journey, and I can tell how very hurt you are. My husband's betrayal still hurts me to this day, but time, openness, and communication has certainly lessened my hurt. My husband was fired, lost his career, accused of sexual harassment, and everything was open to the media. Such a long, painful journey for us, and we live in a small town. We're just now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope you and your husband are able to recover fully, and you'll be able to see the light sooner than later.

Not good enough

Your facebook fantasy comment really hit home with me. I dearly loved my husband but the attention he got from fake facebook friends was easier for him than creating real intimacy.

Wife Will Not Admit she Cheated

I’ve given her every opportunity to confess. This pain is so bad. It seemed like all of my friends and family knew it, and I was the last to know. It’s embarrassing and I’m so hurt. How can someone do that to another person? I have no physical proof, but numerous people have told me the same information. She vehemently denies she ever cheated. Could it be that in her mind, she’s justified what she did and doesn’t consider it cheating?

Getting ready

My wife and I have been separated for 4 months. She has an addiction with alcohol and cocaine and I have reason to believe that she is having an affair but I don’t know for sure. I believe she might also be in limerence and she asked to talk to me today at lunch time. I’m afraid that she is going to drop a bomb on me and I’m not sure how I should handle it when she does, I’m afraid I might lose it. Any perspectives?

What was I supposed to do

Just read your article where the unfaithful husband made that remark. Rick remarked that the women were unanimous in answering they'd call 911. But there's another thing that also needs to be said. My husband used that same line and I answered it didn't matter if there was one woman naked or a 1000 women naked, I want my husband to only love, desire and want only me. I want him to have enough conviction and principles to actually live and honor his marriage Vows. Today's society makes it so easy for men to be wusses and take an easy cop out. After my husband confessed his unfaithfulness my father shared that one time his hunting buddies were on a hunting trip and they wanted to make a detour to a brothel. My father and one friend stated they could not do that to his wife. He and that one friend, left that hunting trip to return home earlier than planned and my dad really hated losing his hunting buddies but he said he couldn't do that to my mom. I want a husband that can be as strong as my father in the face of temptation. I didn't marry that kind of man. Still wrestling with trying to accept his faults. But answers that cop out like what was I supposed to do are just deflections and showcase how really weak today's men have become.

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