Am I Stupid for Staying

“If my husband ever cheated on me I’d leave him in a heartbeat.”

This is what one of our friends blurted out in reference to the news of some celebrity’s infidelity. The woman who made this comment didn’t know that I had been unfaithful to my wife. This was not the first time we heard someone say this – and it would not be the last.

It was early on in our recovery and this was a major trigger for my wife. My wife was flooded with a rush of emotions. Sadness. Fear. Panic. Along with being bombarded with these feelings, she was also deluged with questions:

  • Was she doing the right thing by trying to work things out with me?
  • Was I really earnest in my recovery?
  • Was I still lying to her?
  • Was my “recovery” just another deception like my affair?
  • Was she being stupid for staying with me?

It seemed like so many people were so certain what they would do in her situation, and yet she was filled with doubts. She wished that she could be strong and decisive like they were.

And yet, their “apparent certainty” is not based in reality. The truth is until their world is turned upside down and everything they had come to believe about their spouse is being called into question - they have no idea what they will do. They really don’t. Until their world is blown apart, they don’t know how they will respond.

Infidelity is a crisis like no other. It is unwise to make life-changing decisions in the midst of a crisis unless you absolutely have to. My wife was advised by wise counsel from AR to wait 12-18 months before she made any decision about whether or not to stay with me. Early on she continued to have many of the same feelings and she did second-guess herself. There were times she felt she couldn’t continue. However, regardless of what she felt, she did choose to wait and see. And as she did, things became self-apparent and her doubts began to disappear. (Of course, her doubts were assuaged only with the evidence of me taking full responsibility for what I had done and evidence of my own recovery).

Going through the recovery process over time is the right thing to do. It really is the only way to make an informed decision.

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I don't know that I buy this

And I'll tell you why;

I'm in this position now. My wife had an affair, and I'm working through it with the ARC team. But you know, here's the problem;

Waiting 12-18 months? That is giving it enough time, taking enough therapy, to say "OK, I'm at a point where the shock and pain has worn off and I've learned ways to cope with what you did so we can move forward...from something you weren't supposed to do in the first place and can NEVER undo".

Effectively, I don't know that going with that first reaction of "If you do this I'm leaving" isn't the right thing to do because you are holding someone to the very standards they SWORE to when they married you. You, as the one violating the deal? Well of course you feel that way. Me, as the person who got cheated on? I struggle with this. And I struggle because of the fact that if I wasn't important enough to be faithful to from the word "go", which is what a marriage IS, then why should I make you important enough to suffer through all of this? And before you, or anyone else on this board, starts with the starts downt he road of  "divorced people are less happy then the ones who get therapy and stay in their marriage", let's

clear that one up right now; they are less happy if they don't get therapy, too. THAT is the apples to apples comparison; if I get therapy and learn to deal with it after a divorce, I'm going to be just as fine as someone who gets therapy and stays IN the marriage.

I am a married man who will always know that another man out there had sex with my wife. 12-18 months from now? I'll still be that person.  I'll just have given her enough time to try and make me comfortable enough with that to stay. And that's a VERY different argument than the one being made here. It doesn't mean you're wrong to posit this, it just means the framework is a little one sided.



Three options

Justin - listen, you've got three options. You have to weigh these out against a lot of things (i.e., children, support systems, family, love). 1. You can stay with her, keeping this resentment, hurt and anger you have now. Go to therapy, read books, stay on websites full of bitter stories. You will simply cling to the marriage and hope that you both will change and grow closer. It's not likely to work. 2. You can leave her now. Yes, she deserves this. Pull off the band aid now and just end it. If you truly don't believe you can recover from this (love her, trust her, respect her) then you'll both be better off apart. You will hurt, but in another way. You will eventually understand your own issues and be okay...but be prepaid for a whole lot of therapy. 3. You can stay...promising yourself that you are going to eventually let go of this. You will have to release the hurt, pain, betrayal and most of all your ego. If you are BOTH committed to surviving together, then make that decision to swallow your pride. Stop seeing her as an enemy or as the awful person who did this to you. Try and understand look at her as a beautiful person who loves you, but made a horrible mistake. Know she will regret this for the rest of her life. But begin to let it go. Inch by inch. Don't let the fight get the best of you. Know that there will be less and less intrusive thoughts. When your ready, forgive her. I've seen so many couple choose #1. They hold on to the relationship, along with the grudge, anger and resentment. In almost every case, they eventually divorce. They should have just acknowledged the truth that they can't love enough to forgive and chosen #2. I'm one of the option 3 people. I don't forgive my wife yet. I have not built back a total trust and respect for her. I'm still hurt and insecure. But I love her enough to work on those things and be committed to making them happen. She is remorseful, contrite and loving enough to hold on even when I push her away. She wants this marriage to survive and is committed to make any amends she can. She wants to hold our family, and our love, together. We are both committed and know that one day this won't hurt as much. It is so much better now that a year ago. It is NOT easy and I still have regular break downs. But we have promised to fight for our marriage. Give it more time and gauge if you feel better now than from D-day. Then from now to three months from now. If you feel better, you know what you should do. Try less venting and resist holding onto that resentment. It will help ease the painful reminders. Acknowledge your sadness. Let your soul relax and you will see the path you are meant to take. We all with you luck in whatever you decide to do.

I know Brother.  I am not

I know Brother.  I am not much further down that road you are traveling.  I have not perfected what I preach, but I can promise that once you make a decision...either way...things will get slowly better with time. You will be able to live with this burden, as you realize the importance of forgiveness and experience the grace it offers. 

I know it is hard to see that ever happening, but things will (slowly) get better for you.  You may not find perfect peace, but you will feel some sanctuary in taking control of this awful and unfair situation. I promise that you will become a stronger, more respected and better man by making and standing by your decision.

I wish you the best.

help please

I'm the wife her husband cheated on. With a girlfriend from his past. A very important person in his life. It's over. Has been for just over a year. The affair lasted a year. I don't trust him. I know now that he was connected to her through Facebook, through his cell phone and I cringe inside everytime he opens up his laptop. He keeps his facebook private from me. Adds other girls that I feel threatened by. Tell me why, if someone feels so bad about what they did - as he has said in the past -- that he is more concerned with still doing what he wants than trying to make his wife feel more safe again. He resents that I am suspicious of his computer time, questioning what he's doing, who he's talking to -- he can easily open the account so I can see what he's doing. How will I ever feel secure again if his behavior only continues to remind me of his infidelity? I feel like the one who got cheated on is the one who does the most recovery work and I resent it. I'm trying to get over it - I'm trying to understand his pain, his hurt as well, I'm trying to fix what was broken in our relationship -- but sometimes I just think he would rather keep defending his actions than being sorry. I'm not expecting "I'm sorry" all the time -- but you know what? When we continue to struggle with insecurity, feeling like we have lost our safety net, we need constant reassurance. My facebook is open to the public - I'm showing that I have nothing to hide, or never will -- why can't you do the same? How I long for a world without this technology that makes it so damn easy to be decietful. Feeling so lost. So tired of it being my fault.


You do not need to tolerate secrecy in your marriage, especially once your spouse has betrayed you, you both should learn from what happened and have an aversion to secrecy (both of you)). You can respectfully tell your husband that you need access to his Facebook and email accounts and passwords (he may not be able to give you access to his work email for legal reasons but since all work email is open to 3rd parties all the time - the email administrators - it's unlikely anything would be there anyway). Give your husband your accounts too. Make agreements together to have no close friendships with the opposite sex and no contact at all with any previous boyfriends/girlfriends or flings. Set boundaries together to protect your marriage instead of building walls between you. If he refuses, demand counseling. If he refuses counseling, consider that maybe he has already ended your marriage and needs to be on his own. Remember, though, that his actions don't justify nagging or disrespect on your part. The Bible gives clear instructions on how we're supposed to act as husbands and wives, and that we are to submit to each other. He's making that difficult by trying to keep his independence and keep you too. That's not what Christian marriage looks like. I'm walking through this with my wife too (she cheated about a year and a half ago). It's so easy to sit in judgement and demand things but that's not Christ-like. Forgive. Let go. But learn and protect your marriage together! My wife decided she personally couldn't handle social networking sites because the guy contacted her originally through FB so she closed her Facebook account. Our marriage was more important to her than Facebook. If your husband doesn't feel that way, you may need outside help.

Help Please

I feel the same way. I didnt do anything wrong,yet he gets mad at me when I dont believe him after he lied and cheated for almost 4 years. Im working my butt off trying to fix this marriage and getting nothing in return. So to me it would be so much easier to just walk away and move on with my life and be rid of all this.



This is the 2nd time I know

This is the 2nd time I know my husband has cheated in 3 years ~ I filed for divorce and we signed papers as I was crying like a baby~ I don't want to divorce him, but I'm tired of others looking at me like I'm an idiot ~ I have told my family what has been going on and they want us to divorce, and they all tell me I'm crazy if I don't ~ I just want things to be right with us ~ I want our kids to have their mom and dad in the home as a family ~ he is now saying no more bullcrap ~ that he was stupid and he loves me ~ well when he says that I cling to it and think nothing else ~ what's wrong with me?


Justin, I feel a lot like you in this respect. The 18 months is now more like 24 and she still has not decided if I am important enough. She has told me that all of her original promises were false. When I say I am through she gets upset, but then again I cater to her request to give her more time. I just wish she would do something with that time. She was gone. She finally came back to the house, but I don't feel like she has come back to me. I still feel unimportant. Then I remember my promises, and I stay to be an example to my children, and I know they appreciate it- but at the moment, that is all I have. Except for God's promise of grace, of course, which is what keeps me going. I made that promise with HIM as my witness, so I keep trying to fulfill it- no matter what she does.

I didn't understand this

I didn't understand this advice either, and always thought an affair would be a deal-breaker. I was the one who was unhappy in our marriage, contemplating divorce even before my husband's affair. He had been faithful and honest for 18 years. (I know because he is a lousy liar, and I could tell he was having an affair...I never suspected until it really happened). He thought our marriage and our problems were "normal," insisting he was not unhappy while not validating my feelings. If anyone had an affair coming, it seems it would have been me. Yet, he had a 10-month affair with a married co-worker. Very hard for me to accept, even though I admit shutting down from him. I know it wasn't planned, as they had a friendship that got gradually closer and closer. Yet their meetings were pre-meditated. I think he got in so far over his head, he didn't know how to get out without somehow feeling he was betraying their prior platonic friendship. This was so twisted, as he was betraying me. His mind-set, admittedly now, was just really messed-up and confused. Nevertheless, flash forward to now. It has been 20 months since it ended. Although I couldn't comprehend fully forgiving him or trusting him, ironically enough, I finally felt that I had forgiven him and was on my way to trusting him again 18 months into it. Don't know if it's a magic number or a coincidence. Yet, if you are not close to that 18-month mark, and/or if your wife is not putting a ton of work into it, it may not seem even remotely possible to you. My husband is so remorseful, he has done everything humanly possible to make it up to me. He has worked on our prior problems, validates my feelings, and has attended weekly counseling ever since. He calls me twice a day from work. At first, it was to "check in" for trust reasons, but now I look forward to talking with him and seeing how our days are going. We have a connection that was missing prior to his affair. One of the big issues after D-Day for us was that he didn't seem very remorseful at first. Turns out he was denying just how involved they were, somehow thinking hiding those details would protect me. HUGE mistake. I needed them in order to know he was capable of telling the truth, and he needed to fess up in order to lower his defenses and show his remorse. If your wife is still hiding details (and you really want to know) encourage her to tell the truth so you can begin to trust her and she can let go of defenses to show you true remorse. And, if it hasn't been 18 months, please hang in there. It may just seem impossible to you until you reach that time frame. Best of luck to you.

Thank you!!! Still married

Thank you!!! Still married after being betrayed, but I couldn't agree with you more.

How can I trust again.

Five months ago I discovered my husband was having multiple affairs for the past year. I was devastated. Up to the point of finding out I had been a happily married woman. I forgave my husband but I am having great difficulty trusting him. He agreed to cut off all contact with one of the women the other he can't because they had children together before we got together and got married. So I have to decide to give him another chance with her but I do not trust her either. I found he has still been calling and texting the other woman, I confronted him he said he was not having an affair but was helping her with her business behind my back - in other words still lying to me, I can't make any major decisions right now because my family members who are living with us have major health issues and the arguing and stress are taking its toll. I thought i was going to have a nervous breakdown so I started seeing a counselor. How can I ever trust him again?

12-18 months?

My husband and I have only been married a year. Three weeks ago, he disclosed to me that he has had multiple affairs of different types since we got engaged (about 18 months ago). My biggest struggle with a lot of the advice is that one should wait 12-18 months before making any big decisions. Although at times I do want to stick with him, recover, and create something better, a large part of me just doesn't see much hope in the situation. Waiting for 12-18 months to see if this might work? That's longer than we have even been married! I worry that I will just end up wasting more time on this when I spend that time moving on and moving forward.

Thank you for sharing

This article was really helpful. thank you for sharing from your perspective.
I am the recovery partner, and this has been so helpful. I've ran into so many negative people who are not supportive of me staying in my 10-year relationship after infidelity. it has been a roller coaster of emotions because people always assume that you are better off without that person but sometimes we have really good partners, and they mess up. and those negative people don't make the recovery process any easier. they actually make it harder. this gave me hope to know that my feelings are right because as much as it hurt i got the best husband afterwards.

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