The Wandering of the Unfaithful

It’s not uncommon to hear a spouse say, “It was like they changed overnight. All of a sudden they were just different.”

It happens more often than it should. We wander and cheat. Our wandering, however, doesn’t happen overnight. That’s the illusion; that the unfaithful wake up and all of a sudden we don’t want to be with our spouse anymore and we want to venture out to “greener grass.” It’s simply not true. Sure, one night stands happen all the time. Alcohol convolutes things and impairs judgment, but even in a one night stand our actions that lead up to putting ourselves in a dangerous, high risk situations are usually not in an instant but over time.

It’s a slow fade when it comes to moral impairment and compromising our integrity and character.

As an unfaithful, my wandering began when I let things slide, slowly but surely. Call them “seemingly unimportant decisions,” or call them the little foxes that spoil the vine, but it’s over time that we wander and implode. Here are some examples of what I did which aided my wandering away from my spouse and from my commitment to my marriage. They are not exhaustive, nor in order, but mere examples of what I did to allow the affair to happen.

  1. I allowed frustration to rule in my heart rather than a commitment to push through the resentment and inconvenience I would feel when I brought things up to Samantha. Rather than being willing to fight to get clarity, insight, and common ground, I allowed frustration to deceive me into thinking ‘she won’t care anyway.’ Or, ‘she will just push back and it’s not worth it.’ I gave up trying to understand or be understood. My affair was not her fault, but I just gave up internally when I felt normal resistance from her instead of fighting for my marriage.
  2. I didn’t take enough days off from the demands of work, business and people. I was simply too tired to work through our challenges and our difficulties. I gave my best to my staff and various meetings and not to my spouse and day by day allowed other priorities to slip in.
  3. I justified the little compromises and then justifying the bigger compromises till before I knew it, I was in way over my head and saw no way out.
  4. I believed the lie there was no way out and that I might as well keep living this way. There was a way out on day one of my affair and there was a way out of my affair the day before I was exposed. I couldn’t see it. I gave up that it was there. The deeper truth is, I didn’t like the way out I saw. I didn’t want to humble myself. I didn’t want to come clean. I liked my darkness and my double life more and had you approached me two and a half years earlier, I’d have punched you if you said I was going to make the choices I would end up making. I would have laughed at you and mocked you and called you every name in the book had you suggested I would end up doing what I had done. What seemed so ridiculous at one point, became real life to me but a year or so later.  

We wander over time friends. We don’t tell our spouse about it most of the time. We internalize it and give it far more air time in our heads and hearts than we should. We get hooked privately before we ever get hooked publically.

Next time I’ll share thoughts on how to avoid wandering and relapsing in recovery. 

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So true


This has many truths in it and although our affairs were different in many ways I can relate to much of what you have said here.

I also allowed myself to think "it's not worth it" when I felt frustrated with my husband. I guess I came from a "keep the peace" type background so it was easier for me to give in than have a proper discussion about what I thought and felt. I also justified small compromises and gradually these gave way to bigger ones until I was also in over my head with no way out. I wanted to be desired and attractive and instead of discussing this with my spouse I gave into an easy way of getting this from elsewhere. I believed there was no way out once I had crossed the very first line and therefore was unable to go home and confess that first time that I was flirting or the first time I exchanged a touch that was honestly speaking "more than friendly" even if it was just that from the outside.

I am guilty of many things but I am absolutely guilty of wandering and doing this all in my head without ever once trying to talk to my husband.

I so wish I could take it all back now - but of course I can't. The sadness is that I can't still talk to him about things because of how dysfunctional we are together - two unhappy people who can't turn to each other any more for comfort.

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