Do the Unfaithful Have Reminders and Triggers?

Today, Samuel discusses in his video the latest questions by many of whether or not unfaithful spouses have triggers and reminders.

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Thank you.

Hi Samuel,
Thank you so much for making this video blog. I REALLY needed to hear this! It is something I struggle with always thinking that my husband is thinking about his ap although it was not a 'deep' or 'intense' affair. However, my thoughts overwhelm me with this. I can now look at him in a different 'light', possibly better!

Reminders and Triggers

Samuel: For me, when I have a "reminder," it is like yes this happened. So more like an acknowledgement; yes, my husband had an affair, yes they walked holding hands in such and such a place that I may be thinking about, passing or someone mentions. When I have a "trigger," that is something that knows me over (so to speak) and one that I am upset by, hurt by, disgusted or even I have a physical reaction like one where I wince or am repulsed. A trigger is more like, I have to call him or text him about it--not necessarily good.

What I feel you were mentioning were more like memories. So I have memories--like my boyfriend before I was married, my high school or college sweetheart, some are fond and some not so fond but they are part of me and I do have memories of them. Even the not so fond memories do not make me wince or sick like a trigger would.

So now I guess my question is, we are between 2 and 4 years beyond DDay (because there was DDay and then there was ok i want to tell the whole truth DDay -I am sure you are familiar). Does the unfaithful have triggers?

Is it wrong to want to be number 1 in his eyes?

Hi Samuel -

Thank you very much for your vlog! As always, it is so thought-provoking and honest and really makes me think. My husband's affair was extremely intense - emotional, physical. And for sometime he truly wanted to leave and was very close to moving away with her. He is here and we are making strides. I am not naïve to think that he thinks about her. But what he says really upsets me. He says he will always have loving thoughts for her - she was there for him at a down time in his life - and he will always be grateful for the time they had together, but says he chose me and I should be happy.

What am I supposed to do with that? Why should I put in the effort when he thinks there love was real and not fantasy? Do you still think that the love you shared with your AP was real? Do you think back to your affair with positive thoughts and think she could have been a life partner? If these are the kind of thoughts I have to compete against - that he is giving up his one true love then I don't know if I can handle that...Why even stay with me if he thinks there love was so pure?

great questions AW...really great...

for starters, thank you for asking tough, honest, ground zero level questions as those need to be asked. at some level, i think he's trying to say something like 'i chose you...yes i had and have memories with her and there was some good, but i'm choosing you and realize that was not real life, or that was not sustainable and i choose you.' now, it's not optimal in his verbiage right? you'd love for him to come and say " i want to be with you. i want to be with you. i want nothing to do with her and i choose you and want only to be with you and that wasn't real.' but, at some level, i'd recommend a few things, and i'll be streamline: 1. he's trying to be honest. 2. he's not being completely kind and gracious in his honesty, but he is trying. 3. it's not been long enough, or he's not had the right help, or both, to be able to say to you what he should say as quite honestly, i think it's a bit stupid and callous to say 'i've chose you, so be happy' but that's probably due to the fact that he's not gotten it yet, at his core ya know? he probably needs more time and deeper help to be able to come to a better place of compassion for sure as it's lacking. how far down the road are you and what help have you received? always having loving thoughts for her is honest, though gut wrenching. i'm sure like many, you the betrayed, want him to hate her or to realize what a this or that she was or to be so despising of what he did, but he's just not there yet and i dont think he's totally sobered up....does that make sense? i dont' think he's simply giving up the love of his life for you, but i do think he's still seeing through the fog if you know what i mean. once i know how long i can share more about how he's seeing things.... tougher one...yes, i had genuine feelings for my ap and did care for her. yes, i did genuinely care for her. could we have had a marriage one day if i left samantha, possibly, but i highly doubt it would work. it was based on fantasy and escapism and not real life, but to say i didn't care about her would be wrong. so i did care, highly, but the passion etc, was all based upon escapism and adrenaline. it doesn't void out my care for her, but it's like steroids which made everything heightened. i didn't give up my ap for samantha. i chose to save my marriage and give it a shot and keep my family together....and the emotions and feelings and joy all returned 100 fold to be honest. i wasn't giving up my one true love, though in the middle of the affair, i 'may' have said that deep into the confusion of it all....i dont' think he thinks his love was SO pure, however, he's still coming out of the fog. i hope that helps and i'm happy to keep the disc. going. you can also find me on twitter at @infidelityscars for quicker responses.

I have thought long and hard...

Samuel - thank you very much for your honest and thoughtful response. I have come back numerous times to respond but I needed to understand my own thoughts before asking you some more questions. Sometimes my husband's affair is all that I think about, but I have been trying to do better with that - doing things for myself, enjoying my kids, and I am in IC - my husband doesn't want to go to MC because he feels he would be gained up on... I think you are right - we are only several months away from the last D-DAY so it's all very raw.

I do have a couple follow-up questions... I think what you have done for your wife and what she has done for you in recovery is miraculous, inspiring, and has helped so many people - you truly amaze me. I find myself coming back and re-reading your posts and re-watching vlogs so I fully understand where you are coming from. As with anything, we are on different sides of this experience, and it can be difficult to read. My first questions stems from what you said above - " i'm sure like many, you the betrayed, want him to hate her" - I don't think I want my husband to hate her. I want him to understand that not only did he break my heart, she broke my heart as well - similar to your situation, the AP was a very good friend of mine who knew me and I confided in her and she broke that trust. Why can' he apologize to me and say "I am so sorry I treated you this way, and I am so sorry your best friend treated you this way as well." Have you ever said to Samantha that you are sorry for your AP betraying her? In this situation, I lost the man I thought was my husband and my best friend, and he has never apologized for that. In many of your blogs, you take full responsibility for your actions, which I admire - but many times you say you are sorry for what you did to Samantha and what you did to your AP. I don't understand how what you did to Samantha is on the same playing field as what you did to the AP - she willingly entered into the affair and chose to have an affair with you. Have you ever shown empathy towards how your AP betrayed Samantha as well? Or do you really think she is a victim?

Also - it is very clear to me that you love your wife very much and are so grateful for the marriage you have now. Throughout the blogs, however, I read and hear you say that you care for your AP. That's fine, but after 10 years, do you still struggle from thinking about her and wondering how she is doing? Do you still miss her? I know my husband wonders about her and misses her, and I can understand, but 10 years down the road, is it unfair for me to want him to be indifferent towards her (if we even make it that far).. It doesn't seem like you are indifferent but still care for her. Am I reading that wrong? If you ran into to her today, would that care you have for her allow you to talk to her and ask how she is doing? I know these are tough questions, but I am starting to think that my husband will never fully let her go and if he sees her, will approach her and act as if he can be her friend. He is put me through so much - and somehow I have found my strength again - I have found my joy and my passions again after burying them so long in order to be a good wife and mother. My friends and family notice, even my husband notices, and has said to me that he is afraid that I am going to recover before him and not need him anymore. How do I respond to that? It's like he is manipulating me from taking control of my own life again...

Very Insightful - Thank You


I just wanted to thank you for this video and your perspective on triggers of the unfaithful. I am a betrayed spouse and it has been a long road on the journey to recovery. I know personally the devastation of triggers from the betrayed person's point of view. They have been a constant companion of mine. I want to thank you for sharing your experience with triggers as an unfaithful, because the betrayed really does get caught up in what the unfaithful is thinking about. Personally, I always assume that my husband is reminiscing about his AP when I get a trigger and it tortures me. I wonder if he is thinking about her and missing what they shared. I wonder if he thinks about her and remembers it fondly. My husband recently said to me, "You always think that I look back at my AP with good memories...but it tortures me and makes me ill. I will be haunted by what I did for the rest of my life." I want to thank you for giving your perspective on this subject because it really helps to know that myself and my husband are not alone. It also helps to know that I can't assume what my husband is thinking and make up scenarios, out of fear, that may not be reality. I want to thank you and Affair Recovery for all of your articles and videos, without them I would have been lost and frozen in grief and pain. Thank you for your authenticity and commitment to helping others that have experienced and infidelity.

thank you..

Christie, thank you for reaching out. i'm terribly sorry for the pain you both are in, but am so glad you're reaching out and the vlog helped. i think it's an awesome statement that your husband said "You always think that I look back at my AP with good memories...but it tortures me and makes me ill. I will be haunted by what I did for the rest of my life." is regret, permanent regret and hurts like hell. it's just brutal. he's being honest and that's the way we look back when we DO get healthy. there's a hole there. a pain that strikes at the core. i'm so glad you are seeing it and he's being able to be compassionate like that and up front. anything i can ever do to help please let me know.



In your response, you said - it is regret, permanent regret and hurts like hell. it's just brutal. he's being honest and that's the way we look back when we DO get healthy. there's a hole there. a pain that strikes at the core.

Once you get to this place of permanent regret, do you find that the AP and/or the affair is no longer an option, THE option?

One of my "self wars" is the worry that that my H will go back to the AP, back to THAT, back to being THAT guy, yet he has expressed similar and consistent sentiments to what Christie has mentioned above.

Thank you for your input.

understandable for sure...

Diana, thank you for your comment and thoughts. i do believe we get there through the quality of help we get, the willingness to get healthy and implement the help we receive and time. i got there pretty quick as I was fortunate to have rick and a strong mentor helping me see the light and come out of the fog. without that, i'm not sure i would have come out of the fog as quickly as i did, and it would have taken a while. but provided he gets the right help, he will in fact, sober up and come to a place where (if he's not there already) that he realizes it was a fantasy and was based on escapism and not real life. provided he is pressing in if you will, to the help and insight of expert help, he will sober up and see things for what they were: a dream world. he may have legitimate feelings for that person, but its like it's on steroids though due to the fact that it's not real life with mood swings, bills, kids, demands, etc etc. for me, i never want to go back and never want to be the person i was back then. what's vital is understanding that if i don't stay true to my own personal and marital boundaries i can let myself (and feel myself) or samantha can see my sliding back into old habits. now let's face it, it's been 10 years, so it's not like i'm fading backwards. but i have a new lifestyle and new set of boundaries and new way of living that we've had for about 9 years. it prevents me from goin back to the person i was who was rude, insensitive, demanding, self righteous, narcissistic, and a workaholic. so we have boundaries now. but, if i'm working too hard, or not getting enough sleep, or stressing out, i can start to go backwards and danger signs start to happen and NO ONE sees them sooner than samantha. i hope this all helps. i'm sorry if it's a bit scatterbrained, but i wanted to answer as soon as I was able to. happy to keep talking. you can also get a quicker response or more info on twitter at @infidelityscars

Sounds so familiar

Reading your concerns are so eerie because it is exactly what my current fear is right now. We are 20 months past D-day and things have sometimes been awful and sometimes been excellent. Every time I think I am about to move forward, something else stands in my way. When you talk about the fear of him going back, that is very real for me too. I worry he will go back or just find someone else. I don’t have that confidence of ever-after anymore. He has a hard time showing emotions(whole life), so when he says he wants to be with me forever, I just don’t know if I trust that. Such an ongoing internal struggle.

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