I found this story poignant and, wow, could I relate to a lot of it — both how it got started and how he felt during recovery. It’s worth reading for any wayward or betrayed spouse. His journey and healing were inspirational to me at a time when I needed some inspiration.
And by the way, there are many excellent resources on this website – other stories, articles, etc). I would recommend anyone check out
Some excerpts (in bold) and my comments (italics)
I never planned on having an affair. Even a couple months before it happened, if you had told me I would be involved with another woman, I would have sincerely denied the possibility. But when the conditions were just right, every conviction flew out the window….even now, looking back on all that occurred, I am amazed at how easy it was to compromised long-held standards and move into an affair.
Comment: Boy, that’s for sure. I was positive that I would never do this. NEVER. NO MATTER WHAT! It was against every value and instinct I had!
After 2 or 3 years, our marriage settled into a typical routine. It wasn’t wonderful, but it wasn’t bad, either, and we witnessed enough unhappy relationships to know ours was better than most. We both wanted something better. Periodically, we would make a special effort to heat things up: read a book, attend a seminar, join a support group, go on a trip, or become a bit more sexually creative. These sparks would temporarily warm the fire, but we inevitably settled back into the more common lukewarmness of the relationship.
Comment: I can relate to this. Me and my wife had an almost conflict-free marriage. We even bragged about it! She used to say that how much we “suited” each other. I realized later that what we had was a what is called the”semi-happy marriage.”
Characterized by low-conflict, low passion…and low satisfaction. It’s not that I seek conflict or thinking constant fighting is the sign of a good marriage (I don’t and it’s not!!), but I realized that it was devoid of deep meaning, passion, attraction. Everything was underground. We got along great managing the home, our kids, and tasks. But underneath, I was becoming desperately dissatisfied. We weren’t being “real” with each other. That was fine in the beginning, but as the years wore on, it wasn’t.
In some ways, it was enough. We enjoyed the comfort of familiarity; we provided a caring and secure home for our children; we knew what to expect from each other. With adaptive behavior that seemed common to most other couples, we learned how to maintain our relationship. But in the deepest part of me, I wasn’t satisfied.
Comment: Exactly. We focused on our kids and I found happiness where I could, even if it wasn’t at home. I threw myself into my career and one hobby after another, none of which included her. I was slowly becoming miserable, year by year. I started making small compromises that years later led to a full-blown affair.
An affair requires two things: opportunity and willingness. During my first 12 years of marriage, there were opportunities, but not the willingness to act.
That doesn’t mean I was void of curiosity or desire. Disappointment with my marriage sometimes led me to wonder what it might be like to be with someone else. But thoughts never turned into action because I valued faithfulness, feared the consequences of infidelity, and didn’t want to face the disapproval of others, including God.
Comment: I passed by many opportunities through the years, even when tempted. Being who I was and where I got to go for work, with the band, brought me into contact with many, many willing women. But I didn’t take that step for years.
What was it about Linda that made it easy to develop a relationship that led to an affair? Initially, I was most attracted to those qualities in her that were, in my opinion, lacking in my wife. When I became disappointed in my marriage, I found it easy to focus on Anne’s inadequacies. I realize now that she still possessed all the qualities I had originally loved, but the years of familiarity had made it easier for me to focus on our differences…on the ways we failed to connect with each other. Of course, once I was convinced of these areas of incompatibility, I was also apt to pay more attention when I observed other women who seemed to be free from these flaws.
Comment: Exactly, my ex-OW seemed to possess every quality my wife did not. She seemed interested in me, made me feel wanted, desired and understood. She was outgoing, stylish, and fun, confident and together. I felt great when I was with her. And as Mark says, I tended to focus on my wife’s inadequacies and our relationships, instead of noticing the great things. I was on a mission and my head was turned.
It wasn’t about physical beauty. Linda was cute, but I think many would have considered my wife better looking. No, it was her confidence, professionalism, articulation, and life goals: these were the things that drew me to her.
This attraction alone, however, would not have been enough for me to open the door to an affair. Her admiration accomplished that. I wanted approval. I wanted to be valued, appreciated. During this discouraging time in my life, I felt an especially strong desire to hear someone tell me they believed in me. …that kind of affirmation didn’t come from home.
Comment: So true. So true!!
We talked and joked and laughed and shared stories about our lives. I began to think of Linda as someone who naturally connected with me—a soul mate. I started finding reasons to spend more time with her and thought about her constantly, even at night while in bed with my wife. For the first time in many years, I felt alive and hopeful.
Comment: Nods in agreement. Oh Lord, yes. I did feel alive after feeling dead for so long. It was alluring, no doubt.
Prior to this affair, sex had been a bit of a disappointment to me. My wife and I had both grown up in traditional, conservative families that taught us to save sex for marriage. Somehow, we managed to make it to our wedding day with our virginity still intact. But I learned on our honeymoon that Anne’s view of sex was quite different from mine. Sex, I was told, was more of a “guy thing” and women usually did not enjoy it very much.
Linda, however, did enjoy sex. She demonstrated a kind of passion and pleasure that I had never experienced with my wife. We made use of every possible opportunity to share another sexual encounter, even if great risks were involved. The risks, in fact, only added to the excitement.
Comment: Ok, I don’t share his background. i was definitely not a virgin at marriage and neither was my wife. But sex at home was very disappointing. It was regular, but dull. She seemed semi-interested, at best. She didn’t get that excited. It was like a chore to check off her list. I felt constrained. Bored. Undesired. Unmotivated. And incompetent as a man. I masturbated frequently on the side. My fantasies in my head fueled my desire that I have something more out of my sexual life. I’m a very very sexual person. Always have been, but I thought that I didn’t pick a particular sexual wife (although now she seems to have become one…but that’s about connection…we have it now, we didn’t then, but I’m relaying what I thought in my mind back then). My ex-OW was different. The sex was passionate and uninhibited. But this can be a problem – great sex can cloud your mind, especially in a man. Logic goes out the window when you’re connecting so much with a woman on this level. The married sex I was experiencing couldn’t possibly compete. My brain had turned to mush. I wanted my next “fix”.
I did not expect to be caught and so didn’t spend much energy worrying about discovery or considering the consequences of being found out. The affair was an addiction; all I cared about was getting my next fix with Linda.
Comment: yes. Looking back, what I thought was love was more of a chemical addiction in my brain. I never imagined I’d be caught. But I was never comfortable either. The conflict inside me was tearing me apart and making me depressed.
I had changed. Lying had never been natural to me, but now it became necessary. I was caught up in the passion of an affair and there was nothing more important. I was willing to make great compromises just to be with Linda.
Comment: Yes, I became a skilled liar. I began to also wonder who I was and who I had become. I didn’t like me.
Well, it’s too long, but I found those passages interesting and I could relate.