The Process of Knowing Why

Why did he do it? Why did she do it? What made them risk their lives and their family for such a stupid rush? What could propel them to risk it all, for some tramp or some prostitute? Why did they affair-down? Just how deep does the dysfunction and/or addiction really go?

I’ve talked to many who have spent months and years, several years actually, trying to find the ‘why’ of the affair(s). From numerous visits to therapists, counselors, pastors, and friends, to endless books, seminars, and retreats, the ‘why’ of it all is a quest all betrayed spouses are on.

The good news is: there is a why. There is probably more than one.

The bad news is: it will take the right kind of process to discover what it is.

The worse news is: it will never be a some cavalier, trite, one sentence explanation.

A bit of even worse news is if the unfaithful spouse cannot share why he or she had the affair, I hate to say it, but relapse is probably in the very near future and they may not be safe right now.

It’s been 8 years, and the ‘whys’ of my affair have become more and more clear. It’s not a one sentence answer, and anyone that has a one sentence answer is probably not safe. Here’s some of my why:

I was addicted to the applause of others outside my home. Outside my house, and on stage, I was treated like a hero. In my home, I felt like a fourth kid who could never do anything right, or ever do enough. I was insecure and at the right time, the right woman came along and I was ripe for disaster. I was so self-absorbed, I thought the world revolved around me and had no clue what maturity was and what being a father and husband really looked like. Samantha had some personal dysfunction that had to be addressed as well.

Six sentences. It’s taken more tears than I care to itemize, and more money than I care to remember, and more collaboration with Samantha than I could display on any chart, to get those six sentences. It doesn’t encompass it all, but it does narrow down much of the ‘why’ of my affair. I blame myself more than anyone and Samantha would agree with all of those six sentences. All of them. Even her own.

The process we utilized literally saved my life, and saved our marriage.

The why will take time and will be a byproduct of the recovery methods you utilize. If the unfaithful spouse cannot tell you why, with some pin pointed accuracy and wisdom from someone besides themselves, danger is on the horizon. If you are in a process of recovery and the lights are not slowly but surely coming on for both spouses, I’d caution you to re-evaluate either the methods you are using, or the commitment by either spouse.

The why is essential to both spouse’s recovery.

For some it seems they can never know enough, they can never stop digging for more answers, more reasons, more motives. For others they prefer to shroud themselves in the darkness of knowing nothing and pretend it didn’t happen. The answer for many lies in the middle. Knowing enough to prevent relapse, while also knowing when to stop digging to be at peace with what has happened.

Allowing the why to become an idol will only create paralysis and frustration.

Trust the process, dump the methods that don’t work and find new ones, and get help to find out the why’s. They are there if you use the right methods to uncover them.

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What if

What if you have been through the counselors, HH, EMS, and still can't get the "why" out of the betrayed spouse? What other methods are there? I uncovered my vulnerabilities and what I did wrong in our marriage during EMS, HH, and counseling. I take responsibility for those. But he gives me one sentence for both his emotional affairs ( which were possibly physical, too) : "She listened to me about the country.". That's all he will say. This is 17 months since confrontation. I fear relapse and I am resisting connecting with him because of the length of time with little progress and his unwillingness to answer questions. We no longer live together due to abuse he inflicted on me while I asked him questions about the affair. He ( and all three counselors we have seen) want to just move on from here and not explore the past to see what went wrong. I can't do that. I NEED to know everything. There should be no dishonesty between us if we are going to have a marriage. As you mentioned, I think I have "idolized" my quest for understanding and knowledge about his affairs. It's all I think about and is all I have thought about for 17 months. The frustration is eating me up and IS causing paralysis. I am stuck - paralyzed- in limbo-- between wanting to make this marriage work (its a 36 year marriage) and leaving so as not to be cheated on again, abused, etc. He IS working on his anger issues as of now, but it took him almost a year to get started on that. I see a little progress with that. But NO progress in finding out the answers I need to move on. Are there any other methods to try? What do you suggest? I am about ready to give up. It's killing me, physically and emotionally.

You are my twin in this situation

Karen, I feel like we are one in the same. I don't have any advice to give since we are only two months out from the discovery of the physical part of the affair. I knew about the emotional part almost the whole time. My husband's excuse was "she has more natural cattle smarts". Never mind all the things I can do around the ranch. Know that I feel WITH you, not just for you.


Samuel, What a blessing that I came across your entry. I can completely identify with your six sentences.

I appreciate your clarity and ability to convey it through words

I wish my husband could come through to me in such a way. I pray every day that he will one day wake up with the empathy and compassion that I really feel like I need to feel closer to him. Every other day I feel like we take two steps forward and 5 steps backward. I still can't believe how painful it still feels whenever I think about what he has done with his AP. We are now going on the anniversaries of last year's nightmare and I can't even function some hours. I just want to ball up and cry.

I know he shuts down and just becomes resentful when ever the triggers pop up for me, instead of holding me and telling me how sorry he is he just puffs up and ignores my pain. He is very reluctant still to sit with me hold my hand and get through the pain with me. I feel worse than lonely, I feel downright jaded and defeated. Lonely might actually feel better than having to face someone who "claims to love me" and yet could do the ultimate betrayal to me and our family. To the vows I held sacred. I feel like I don't know who he is, and worse yet I feel like he has no moral character especially when it comes to parenting our boys, I'm still so protective and fearful of his terrible influences. I'm not willing to trust his moral integrity at all. Why should I? He wanted nothing more than to protect her and his assets last year when he cut me off and left us high and dry. He had no care for me at all and it trickled onto our children. We were able to pull it back before too much damage was done. He was gone from us for 6 months and I still don't think he realizes the devastation and destruction he caused and how deep the wound is for me. I don't think he can fathom it. He recreated what his father did when he was our youngest's age and I don't know if that is part of the why. I don't see him seeking to answer the question "why?" DO I Push him to do this with our counselor? I fear exactly what you said, If we don't know the answer to the why he may not be safe to trust again in the near future.

His best answer...

My husband, of ten years, can only come up with' "I just WANTED to do it". That answer is just not good enough for me.

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