Biggest Mistakes Betrayed Spouses Make Recovering From an Affair

ooopsThis blog entry is on mistakes that Betrayed Spouses routinely make during marital recovery.  Blunders and errors of judgment that make it unlikely that a marriage will not only survive an affair..  I wrote it after reading blog after blog by Betrayed Spouses who seem to be doing all in their power to sabotage marital recovery and don’t realize it.   From my reading, thought and research, I came up with what I think are 21 things to avoid if you want your marriage to survive and thrive after an affair.  Unlike many, I truly believe that marriages can not only survive an affair, but become something far better than they were prior to the affair. I’m not one that believes that infidelity must be the end of the marriage.

As much as I hate to use the term “run-of-the-mill affair” to mean the “most common type of affair”, I think I will stick with it for lack of a better term. According to one study, one in four affairs was a mere fling, lasting less than a week. The majority of affairs (65 percent) end within six months.  The “typical affair” is emotional and/or physical, has gone on anywhere from a month to a few months (which apparently is most typical) and where the emotional bond between the Affair Partners (not the sex) was the primary lure of it.  This is the type of affair where “attachment” even if temporary occurred, but that the affair is now over and the Betrayed and Wayward Spouse have committed to fixing the root causes of the affair.  Where the Wayward Spouse is truly remorseful, honest and is attempting to make amends for the betrayal.

Within that context – the “typical affair” — where both partners wish to truly fix the marriage, not ditch it– I present:

The Most Common Mistakes Made By Betrayed Spouses in Recovering from an Affair

Believing that once your spouse agrees to end the affair or the behavior, it is truly ended. Quite often the betrayed spouse is somewhat naïve and actually believes that his or her mate is able to effectively flip and stop the behavior or talking to the affair partner. It is a lovely thought, but very unrealistic. Recovery may involve seeking out helping professionals as well as support groups.  It takes time. Most people need help getting out of an affair.  They are like addicts and it’s hard to kick an addiction by flipping a switch.  Again, much depends on the type of affair they engaged in. If it was a one night stand, affair of “sexual opportunity”, then ending it is easy since it was just that. If it was a multi-year affair, few cheaters can instantly turn off all feelings. I have a blog entry on this subject.

Demanding that your spouse pledge 100% commitment to the marriage right at the moment of disclosure. Even if your mate is willing to make such a pledge it does not really mean anything. Your spouse may mean it in the moment, but not realize how big of a problem they actually have. Addicts cannot just stop using. People in emotionally entangled affairs have trouble disengaging.

Not seeing forgiveness for what it is.    Forgiveness is not a “free pass” or pretending it never happened, or saying what happened was ok.   Instead, it’s an acknowledgment that you are going to let go of the anger associated with this.  That at some level, you are choosing to put it aside and work on your marriage.  I have a blog on the topic.   I hear far too often Betrayed Spouses indicate that somehow if they forgive the affair, that their spouse “won” or “got away with it.”  Far from it.  This type of thinking is corrosive. I assure you, inside, they have paid a huge price and don’t feel like “winners.”  Healing cannot occur until forgiveness is given.  If you refuse to truly forgive, your marriage is doomed anyway.

Not being in reconciliation mode, but instead, being in revenge and punishment mode continuously and/or bludgeoning your spouse with guilt, thinking that this will be helpful.   Your spouse already knows that what they have been doing is wrong, even if they will not admit it to you.  Pointing such things out over and over again, especially after months or even years have elapsed since recovery was agreed upon, will usually only serve to push them away. It’s time consuming and counterproductive for you to concern yourself with punishing your cheating husband or wife, seeking revenge, or trying to pay him/her back for having an affair.

Your interests would be best served if you focus your energy and efforts on what the two of you can do to get their derailed marriage back on track.  You cannot seek reconciliation and justice simultaneously.  You must choose. If you seek to punish, to “even the score”, to continuously remind them how they betrayed you, don’t bother pretending that you are trying to fix things.  If you are going to forever throw the affair in his/her face, your marriage is over.Of course, especially initially, you will have rage and anger.  This is normal and expected.

But at some point, if you forgive, you to put this aside.  Nasty comments.  Sarcasm.  Sneaky tricks like spying on them or trying to hack their phone or accounts. Withholding love or sex.   Verbal assaults on your Wayward Spouse might make you feel better, but if you truly want to save your marriage, there has to be a point where this ends.  If tantrums  go on endlessly and unpredictably, only a spouse with no options and no self-respect will stay.  They will leave you anyway.

I would be very careful of the words you use in your anger — they will be remembered and can become an obstacle.  Remember, they too have grievances against you and probably the underpinnings of why they sought love and understanding outside of the marriage.  Don’t add to the grievances, if at all possible.

I see this as the number one mistake Betrayeds make in marital recovery.  I read it constantly on message boards and blogs. Year or more later, and still nit-picking.   Still punishing.  Still humiliating their spouse.  Still having meltdowns, and wondering why their marriage still sucks. Go figure. It’s easier to punish than to forgive, but completely counterproductive. Don’t do it.

Believing that you, the faithful spouse, are “blameless” and the only one who has things to forgive.  Even if you were a good spouse, no one is perfect. Your unfaithful mate probably has hurts and things for which he or she must forgive you. After dealing with the pain of the affair, it will be helpful to look at the marital relationship completely and be honest enough to understand that affairs rarely happen in a vacuum — they are almost always in reaction to vast, unmet needs in the marriage — our outright abuse or neglect.

Happy and content spouses rarely have affairs.  Once you understand this you are in a better place to pursue marital reconciliation.  I constantly read how many Betrayed Spouses have an impossible time accepting this very basic concept.  A poor marriage is not an excuse for an affair — there is no excuse – but it is almost always the reason.  So don’t try and pretend it’s not.

You’ll never get anywhere with your Wayward if you refuse to acknowledge your part in creating the environment where an affair became an attractive possibility to your mate. They did the worse thing yes, but no matter how many times I read betrayeds say how PERFECT their marriage was and what a FANTASTIC spouse they were and are, and can’t understand why their mate strayed, I know that if their spouse was posting along side of them honestly, they’d have a different story about how great things were at home prior to the affair.  So if you tell everyone that your marriage was great before the affair, and you were the perfect spouse, I think you’re not being honest and missing an opportunity for some serious self-reflection.

Drawing too much security from access to a Wayward’s passwords, cell phone, email accounts, etc, which you demanded after affair discovery.   I call these demands for passwords to phones, computers and emails “fool’s gold.” Although these measures may make you feel better and make it harder for your spouse to have private communications with anyone, they are not sufficient. They will not keep an unfaithful spouse from getting a new phone, a calling card or opening a new email account, and only use them in places you can’t get to them (at work, a library, an internet cafe, etc).  And they will probably resent this type of monitoring which is humiliating.

Nobody wants to be treated like a child, no matter what they did.  Resentment is a cancer on marital recovery. You the Betrayed Spouse probably carry a lot of it, and your Wayward Spouse might also be carrying some too based on how they felt mistreated or neglected in the marriage prior to the affair.  Their resentments probably linger, even if they had an affair and feel bad about it.  So why create more resentment in this situation?

Being a “helicopter spouse.” Believing that you can keep your mate safe and away from temptation by keeping them under total surveillance.    As tempting as it may be to make sure your mate is always safe and monitored, it is impossible. You can try to be with your mate 24/7, but unless you work together, it is not possible.  Honestly, it is not even possible if you work together.  One of you may have meetings or errands that the other one may not be a part of.   But if you think that the only way to keep your spouse faithful is to have them on some sort of “Virtual Leash”, then your marriage is already over.   You can’t hover over them like some perpetual helicopter.   Secretly tapping into their computer or phone, or putting GPS trackers on their car, etc.  These are REALLY bad ideas. I wouldn’t do it.  I turns YOU into the dishonest person.  That type of control is not only likely to not work, it will breed resentment.

Trying to convince your spouse that nobody will ever love him/her as much as you do.  If your spouse is in an emotionally entangled affair, chances are good that he or she may already believe this is not true. It may even encourage an “I’ll show you I’m not such a loser” attitude.  The reality is likely that their Affair Partner DID love them more than you did or showed and that’s why they were drawn to them — they felt more loved, desired, appreciated and understood by their Affair Partner than you.  So making this argument to them to recovery may actually make them think in the opposite direction.  Advice?  Don’t argue it.  SHOW them in your actions — your kindness, your love, your understanding, and how much you are willing to be honest and examine yourself as well during marital recovery.

Using your kids as pawns.  Perhaps even unwittingly, you have used your children  to manipulate your mate into staying or using them to punish the unfaithful partner if they leave.  This will only hurt your kids.  You do not want to force an unfaithful mate to stay if they are determined to leave.

Exposing the affair to your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers.  Threatening to expose your mate’s affair to everyone will only increase their guilt and shame, and may enrage them.  More people may know already than you might realize. Some of them perhaps have even offered your unfaithful spouse support or encouragement in the affair or behavior.  It will not keep your mate home.  I see this suggested constantly on some Betrayed Spouse message boards and blogs — expose the affair to every one.  Frankly, this is more about retribution and shaming your Wayward Spouse, and is likely to backfire. If my wife had exposed me to everyone, I am quite sure I would’ve walked out the door instead of reconciling our marriage.

Making threats. You might find yourself threatening your mate because you believe that threats will make your spouse “see the light” and convince them to “fly right.” Threatening increases shame and guilt, but it does not increase desire or will to stay. Coercion from a mate can actually keep the unfaithful spouse from doing what you wish them to do.

Trashing the affair partner. If your spouse is having some ambivalence (one foot in the marriage, one foot out of the door), this will hit the wrong side of the ambivalence and can push your mate away.  It will put your mate in the position of defending the affair partner and this serves no good purpose.  The Other Man/Other Woman didn’t cause the affair — it’s a choice that your spouse made and they are 100% responsible for that choice.

I wrote a blog entry about the mistake, and pitfalls, of focusing too much on the Other Man/Woman during recovery.  This is a trap. It might make you feel better, but it gets you nowhere in recovery and it made breed resentment in your Wayward Spouse.  Obviously, at some level, they thought enough of this person to share very personal things with them.  You trashing them out is as good as saying your Wayward Spouse is an idiot.  Is this the message you want to send?  Seethe if you wish.  Hate them.  Assume that you are so much better looking/sexy/smarter/worldly/better for your spouse than them.   But do it quietly.

Trying to drive the Other Man/Other Woman off by personal confrontation. Confronting the affair partner to make him or her feel guilty usually only encourages the affair partner to think that in the end, your spouse will leave you. It may give the impression that the affair partner has all the power and actually encourage the affair partner to believe that the affair will turn into a long-term relationship.  See above.  Again, focusing on the OM/OW (the symptom) only ignores the cause of why your spouse had an affair.  It’s a diversion but it won’t help you reconcile.  In fact, it could backfire drastically.

Contacting the Other Man/Other Woman to get information or an apology.  It is interesting how often a hurting mate will believe that the affair partner is going to tell the truth and sorrowfully see the error of his or her ways having realized the pain he or she has caused. Quite the opposite, it is not uncommon for the affair partner to lie and manipulate the situation.  The Affair Partner, in fact, may tell you half the story, or complete lies, in order to unhinge you and ruin your marital reconciliation.  Maybe because they still want your spouse for themselves. Or maybe because they think you are simply the wrong spouse for their former lover.  Or maybe because they just don’t like you.  So why assume that they will disclose the truth to you? Hoping they will feel truly sorry and tell you so? Very unlikely. They too had, in their mind, legitimate reasons for pursuing a relationship with your spouse. They are unlikely to admit to you that they were wrong. If you’re looking for some sort of closure with this person, don’t bother.

Believing there is a simple formula or a set course to fix the problem. It would be nice if there were. Each type of affair has its own set of challenges with a different set of solutions that are not linear or stepwise, but are unique to each situation and couple.

Trying to get all the unfaithful spouse’s friends on your side.  You might be hoping they will help your unfaithful mate to “wake up and see reality.” Some of your spouse’s friends may come on board.  This does not mean that your spouse will listen.   Others may believe the unfaithful mate is correct in leaving someone so controlling if you try this approach.

Trying to “woo” your spouse back and expecting instant gratitude and immediate results.  Wooing can be more effective with certain types of affairs, but in any case, it will not produce immediate results. For example, a man with a sexual addiction may be grateful for the efforts, but it will not solve the problem.  Understand, that at some level, in the immediate aftermath of an affair, your Wayward Spouse, while agreeing to marital reconciliation, may still be somewhat on the fence about your marriage.  They need to be convinced too that the marriage can be saved.  It takes time. They are shell-shocked and probably not unlike an addict concerning their affair.  They too have to grieve to some extent.  Results will come for both of you, but you must show patience and perseverance.

Believing that your unfaithful mate will find you more appealing if you get attention from others. Your mate may find you more appealing if you get attention from others or they may not.  Your mate may actually feel relieved if it leads to the thought that you will not be alone if your marriage ends. Either way, it does not bring healing or restoration to your relationship. Your marriage becomes a power struggle.  This is passive-aggressive behavior that shows a lack of maturity.  You want your Wayward to become a better spouse, then you yourself need to model this behavior.   This is not the way to do it.

Engaging in a “Revenge Affair”.   In this emotional time, you may feel a desire to show your unfaithful spouse how it feels to be so betrayed and that if you do, your spouse will ultimately come humbly back.  This is one of the most foolish things you can do.  It will backfire.  Not only will you enrage your Wayward Spouse, but now you will have your own guilt and shame to deal with.   And frankly what you did is worse –why? It’s unlikely your Wayward had their affair purposely to hurt you.  But if you engage in a “revenge affair”, you did it for one reason and one reason only — to hurt your spouse.  To me, it would be unforgivable. You might as well have your divorce papers drawn up.  Two wrongs never make a right, and engaging in a wrong to hurt your spouse doesn’t show character or a desire to reconcile. It’s simple childish retribution.  I also have a blog entry on the dangers of the revenge affair.  I wrote more on the topic here.

Relying on advice from “Infidelity” Message Boards:  They are almost always dominated by militant, angry and bitter Betrayed Spouses, who usually have a huge chip on their shoulders.  Former Cheaters are rarely welcome there, unless they are the complete self-loathing variety.  Opinions that contradict the standard POV on these boards are RUTHLESSLY censored.  So you end up with one, monolithic set of opinions — usually those of the militant, negative variety.  One set of advice from a group of bitter, vicious Betrayed Spouses, most likely.

And because they all say the same thing, they must be right, huh?  Don’t buy it. They just don’t allow other opinions on their boards. And most of those people are either divorced or will be divorced.  They will give you suggestions that contradict every one of the points above.  Just say no or at least realize it’s one point of view, not the only point of view.

There are great books out there – my wife and I were a big fan of “His Needs, Her Needs”.  Great advice in that book for any relationship.  And get a good therapist.

But beware of forums at marriagebuilders.com or survivinginfidelity.com and others like them.   Beware frankly of only reading blogs by Betrayed Spouses.   You may find some solace there and support, and perhaps some advice useful to you, but take what’s written there and recommended with a grain of salt.

Violence:   People who hit someone out of anger and emotion are not only low-class, immature and of low character, they sometimes end up in jail.  Don’t be that person.  If you can’t deal with infidelity (or any problem) without resorting to violence, you have essentially confirmed in your Wayward’s mind that you are a person who probably should be left and definitely that having an affair probably wasn’t a bad idea.  It’s stupid and self-defeating. Don’t go there.  I would always counsel anyone – man or woman – who has been hit by a spouse to leave and leave immediately. It will probably happen again.  You don’t get a “pass” on violence if you’re a woman, nor should you expect one.   I have a blog entry on this subject.

Conclusion:

No one said reconciliation is easy. Or forgiveness.  And huge emotions are involved. A Betrayed Spouse has likely been blind-sided by this and their self-esteem and trust have taken more than a minor beating. It takes character, courage and true love to overcome probably the largest crisis a marriage can face.   But I would urge you to not make the mistakes listed above if you truly want to save your marriage.  To commit these blunders would therefore be to work against your own interests.

 In general, a spouse recovers from the pain more readily to the extent that s/he is able to see his/her own part in the marriage difficulties that may have made the relationship vulnerable. These mistakes may include not following up on early hints of potential infidelity.  It’s paradoxical, but the more someone feels that they had a role in the development of the affair, the more empowered that person will feel to make changes that will strengthen the marriage in the future.

Recovery for the deceiver — the Wayward Spouse needs to include a full assessment of how the affair happened.  Understanding history enables one to prevent its re-occurrence.  This understanding however has to be observational rather than self-flagellating.  Being excessively angry at oneself can block real learning.   “Shame and blame” do little toward prevention.  Understanding of the series of unfortunate actions and decisions that led to the affair is critically important.  So is desire to put one’s life on a totally different course, a course of true marriage commitment.

© COPYRIGHT 2004, 2007, 2013 Recovering Wayward Enterprises, LLC

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32 thoughts on “Biggest Mistakes Betrayed Spouses Make Recovering From an Affair

    • Thanks.

      And yes, I AM working on a Part II – one related to the mistakes Waywards make in recovery.

      It sometimes takes me a while to write these. So many different thoughts I have. But I do have something in draft. Perhaps 30% done.

  1. Very well done. To tag onto your blog reading cautions, I would add….know when to say when. Learning and support are invaluable in the early days of affair discovery, but at some point it becomes counter-productive. It can trap you in “victim” mindset. At some point, it is crucial to back away and begin to just live your life again. As a husband, a wife, a couple. NOT as a wayward spouse, a betrayed spouse, a couple in recovery, etc. Early on I read voraciously, and chase the mirage of “why” or “a reason”. There isn’t one. There are many. With good counseling you will understand them and fix them. Step back and see that whatever vulnerabilities existed, it could just as easily have been YOU that had the affair and extend grace, and ask for what you need accordingly.

    I was fortunate in that by the time I found out about the affair, it had been over for awhile, and my husband was the one who ended it. He was at a point of being able to give total commitment to us and he saw his affair partner and their relationship for who she and it truly was. For those of you that “catch” your spouse, it is harder. They will not be seeing things clearly at first. But they have to sort things out for themselves. The best thing I ever did was step back a little and give my husband the space to see everyone involved for who they were. Recently he told me that he has such a stronger appreciation now for both me and our marriage/family. What a gift!

    Good post!

  2. ” . . . affairs rarely happen in a vacuum — they are almost always in reaction to vast, unmet needs in the marriage . . . Happy and content spouses rarely have affairs.”

    It may be true that happy and content people rarely have affairs. But miserable people are not miserable because of their marriage. Marriage does not make people weak, needy and willing to break sacred vows. Those traits come with them from childhood. A good marriage can help a flawed person hold themselves together for a time, but under any real pressure, they will start to fall apart.

    Yes, unhappy people have “vast, unmet needs”. These needs stem from dysfunctional families, untreated psychological conditions, or emotional immaturity.

    How can you expect the needs of an abused child to be met in adulthood by their spouse? Will a spouse be able to love someone out of depression, anxiety, addiction or personality disorders?

    “A poor marriage is not an excuse for an affair — there is no excuse – but it is almost always the reason. So don’t try and pretend it’s not.”

    As a betrayed spouse, I’m not pretending. I lived up to my marriage vows. I honored and cherished my husband. I was honest and trusting. I gently tried to get him to see a doctor, go to a counselor, or read a self-help book. I was patient and giving and I stayed by his side, forsaking all others.

    But he couldn’t accept my help because he felt worthless. I seduced him every three days (not knowing about the affair, but trying to get closer to him) with 100% focus on creativity and sensuality. He still didn’t end the affair because he felt like he didn’t deserve mind-blowing sex and kept having meaningless, bad sex with his AP (who was as messed-up as he was and was threatening and emotionally blackmailing him to stay with her).

    We had a warm, caring, mutually satisfying marriage for a decade until he came under a perfect storm of stress which triggered his fear, shame and faults. Even if we had had a poor marriage all along, it would have been because he was a poor person.

    Unhappy people with vast, unmet needs are common. Look at rates of mental illness or the rates of alcoholic, abusive and neglectful parents. The children of this dysfunction grow up and often seek healthy, stable people to marry. If they never address the effects of their childhood, they are vulnerable to all kinds of poor behavior–affairs included.

    I would like to add that we have saved our marriage and it is stronger than ever. If I had taken to heart your items #6 and #21, we would be divorced for certain.

    • I have no idea if what you are saying is true or not, but exceptions don’t disprove the rule. In general, research shows that people have affairs because of what’s happening (or not happening) in their marriage. That their primary needs aren’t being recognized and met. It’s just a fact. But I never said it applies to 100% of spouses or that every point here applies to every spouse.

      Although I DO think that many spouses are in a certain denial about this. I read it all the time. They are as perfect as they can be and are just floored that their spouses have affairs. But I understand this. It’s hard to look in the mirror and it’s much easier to blame the cheating spouse 100% or the other man/other woman. That’s human nature. Denial is a defense mechanism and being the victim has a power and allure all its own.

      But as I said, I don’t really know you and can’t really say to what extent what you are saying is true or not. If you are correct, than some things in this blog don’t apply to you. Every situation is different. This is a correlation of things from a variety of sources who work in marital counseling — not my opinions. But it doesn’t mean every “mistake” listed here applies in every situation. I would be very surprised if any Betrayed Spouse was guilty of making each and every one of these mistakes. If they don’t apply to you, great. That’s a point in your favor and likely to help in your recovery.

  3. You are so right about Marriage Builders forums. Dr. Harley’s basic concepts were helpful to me and my WS. But every time I went to the forums I got the impression that they were a cult. You do it this way or you will not be successful.

  4. Your rational voice is wise, concise, realistic. It makes sense that you keep reminding us there are two people involved and two people that need to make changes. No matter that only one cheated. Thank you.

  5. I disagree with a lot of this. I’m sure you mean well but boy do you let cheaters off the hook. Well, I guess that’s to be expected.

    • I don’t require that people read my blog or agree with me. You are free to do neither. Everybody is. I don’t require anyone to employ my thoughts and strategies.

      But from the 50 emails I get thanking me for my blog, mostly from Betrayeds, for every bit of hate mail/hate comment I receive, I think I’m pretty much on the right track. I don’t let anyone “off the hook.” I think I’m fair to both sides. I just write things that people like you aren’t used to hearing and you don’t like it. Because I refuse to say “Betrayed Spouse good, Wayward Spouse bad, bad bad!”. Because I believe there is almost always shared responsibility for infidelity, and there is almost always, as well, an opportunity not only for forgiveness, but for emerging from this sorry episode better, stronger and more resilient as a couple.

      And especially by email, I have been very very hard on some cheaters for poor thinking. I do everything in my power to stop affairs and to help people heal from them. And/or avoid them completely. My message is about mutual understanding, hope, reconciliation. And from all my reading, research, reflection and experiences, I distilled my thoughts into what I think are the biggest mistakes both betrayeds and waywards make when trying to reconcile. I think they are, every one, spot on correct. Feel free, however, to ignore them. It’s your right to do so.

      You have a blog. You can write whatever you wish that you think is helpful, just like I did. I just refuse to turn my blog into mindless venting (and believe me, I could), and blame, and hate, and anger, as if somehow this was the path to marital reconciliation and growth.

      I wish you good luck.

    • I disagree, when husband read this it hit him hard. He has learned much from this blog. Thanks to RW. It is alot of work to put al these thoughts together as we who are in the midst of it are at a loss. It also shows alot of reflection on the author’s pertaining to his own life.

      • You’re entitled to your opinion and I to mine. There are all kinds of fallacies in it including that the popularity of the advice is an indication of its worth. Good luck.

      • As compared to your blog message of rage, blame and vitriol? You couldn’t just rage and crap on people on your own blog, now you have to spread your message of rage and no forgiveness and crap all over my blog? Why? Dislike my message if you wish. Judge me. But can’t you do it quietly? Do I come to your blog and crap all over you?

        I get emails from all over the world EVERY DAY thanking me for my blog and how it’s helped someone or a couple. Here’s one from yesterday

        “Thank you so much for your openness and honesty. I am the betrayed spouse and am married to a man worth fighting for. You have given me so much insight into what he’s feeling, where I’ve gone wrong, what we can do to rebuild a better marriage and not tear us apart. I have been devouring every book and web sight I can get my hands on but yours has been so helpful as it gives me the perspective of my wayward husband.”

        and another from YESTERDAY

        “I just wanted to let you know how happy I am to have found your blog. It’s a breath of fresh air to read someone who is so honest about all the feelings involved in all of this —from both sides. I’ve been searching the web trying to find relatable content and your blog was definitely the only one I’ve come across that unpacks the complexities of affairs so well.”

        Both from BETRAYED SPOUSES, not cheaters. Yeah, I guess those notes mean nothing, right? Nothing at all!

        Obviously my blog is not for you. What can I say? If you don’t like my blog, don’t read it. If you must judge me, please do it quietly.

        Good luck.

      • Thanks for the support. I get hate mail/comments here and there. They don’t bother me. They tend to say more about the person writing than they do me anyway. I’m just an easy target. These bitter and frustrated people are usually responsible for their own predicaments and refuse to acknowledge it. So be it. My blog is not for everyone, nor do I require everyone to agree with me. But why do they feel the need to come crap all over my blog? I don’t do it on theirs!

    • Do not think that anyone is above criticism, we don’t think we are.. There’s no easy “off the hook” if you could possibly comprehend the life long burden of a real bad choice made.

      Let me ask you this: Are some of us more deserving of forgiveness but others don’t deserve forgiveness? I suspect higher than thow has no regrets in life…in which case I still have no idea why you thought to make this comment;-)

      Unless of course you know of some sort of hierarchy by which you labeled this sin as greater than all other sins that cannot be forgiven or shouldn’t be forgiven and that those of us that have fallen does not and should not manage to get up and face the world and never ever experience happiness. So what do you suppose we do? Kill ourselves to pay for our sins? Or do we find hope and encouragement that we all have something good we can hold onto and live another day without the sorrow of regret? I have faith in ME and I believe that there are many who lack this faith. Please do not trumple and smash the hope that there is a better tomorrow, equally, for all of us. In a bad/managable marriage it is my personal opinion that an affair is bound to happen to the weaker /more susceptible person. No one is perfect, absolutely no one (I have yet to see the proof as everyone carries some secrets beyond the knowledge of any person but themself).

      Forgive me for trying to stand up for those who have no defense and that is seemingly doomed to be labelled fir kife. I have been the “better than thow” and I have been brutally humbled by my life experience.

      Sincerely – AM

      • I agree with you. But don’t bother. Nephila is an idiot. A bitter, hate-filled dishonest, narcissist whom wants to rage at everyone who doesn’t agree with her. She attempts weekly to post self-serving, uncivil nonsense on my blog. I have now permanently blocked all her recent attempts. She adds nothing to the topic except as an example of how NOT to be when you are a Betrayed Spouse. She won’t be replying to your message here. But thanks for the input.

  6. Rage, sarcasm and vitriol are understandable, but they don’t exactly scream healing & forgiveness. Maybe she was the perfect wife -they had a perfect fairy tale marriage – and inexplicably, he cheated? Someone who cheats on the perfect spouse must be a rotten one themselves – probably someone you’d be WAY better off divorcing than trying to work things out with. There are times when I’d love to rage at my husband. There are a million things I could say to cut him to shreds, but unless I’m willing to throw him away when I’m done, I can’t see any point in saying them. They don’t lead to anything constructive, and it’s just as simple as that. It helps to vent, I think you just need to be careful about what you are doing to yourself in the process. Sometimes it just makes you angrier, and you can’t repair anything when you’re angry. Or at least, I can’t. I just want to destroy things when I’m angry. I think if blogging helps with venting the anger, then she should do that. But if you’re becoming the lady who tells everyone else how & what they should post on their own blogs then you probably are spreading the message a little too far.

    • RB – my spouse is slipping away from me. He wants to separate because he cannot see past the hurt I have inflicted on him. He’s not vitriolic in the way that some of these BS are … he’s just deeply wounded and does not feel he could ever love or trust me again. Is there any words of wisdom you could give me that I can do to help? I am at a loss to know what to do. I answer his questions but honestly he either does not believe me (and of course me having an affair is proof that I cannot be believed/trusted) or I haven’t got a good answer – because I genuinely can’t remember some of the details. I have started therapy and I’m trying to change myself for the better. But it’s like it’s so broken now it can’t be mended.
      Is it better to just accept his position and let him go? Or is this just more hurt talking?
      I just don’t know who to ask – and you are the BS who speaks the most sense to me. thank you

      • You haven’t given us much information. How long ago was it that he found out? Unemotional, rational discourse on your marital future is very difficult in the immediate months after a D-day.

        But assuming that a long period of time has gone by, and that you have done the 5 things I suggest in my topmost blog entry, what can I tell you? Have you done all you can to make amends to him, address why you did it, and show him that you are living a more honest authentic life? If you have, then I’m at a loss.

        There is a simple truth that I’ve learned researching this topic and reading message boards and blogs: Some people refuse to forgive. They just can’t. Won’t. They are hurt and they will stay hurt. Being the victim has its allure. At its base is power. To give up being the victim, you have to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself — did I play any role in this? Did I abuse or neglect my spouse? Did I ignore their most critical needs? That’s hard to do. And many refuse to do it. They simply will not forgive this. Ever. I have no magic words for people like this. It takes courage and strength to overcome infidelity and emerge with a better, stronger marriage. Most couples are not capable of it.

        You are caught in a very typical catch-22 for Wayward Spouses — the betrayed demands the truth, but won’t believe what you say. So you are literally in a no-win situation.

        I wouldn’t beg or plead. I wouldn’t fight back. I would be calm and, again assuming a long period of time has gone by since D-day, ask him simply, “Do you want this marriage? Do you want me? If you don’t, then please tell me so that we can both make alternative plans like mature adults. If you do, then we need to become pretty radically honest here and get to the root cause of why I did what I did, and to the extent that it points to our marriage, determine together what we can do to fix it. I am here as a willing partner, to discuss anything you want. But if forgiveness and reconciliation is not the agenda, but punishment is, you need to let me know. It’s only fair.”

        That’s a very short answer. You two are in need of serious couples counseling. You need to get to the root of why you had an affair. He needs to get to the root of why he refuses to forgive. That’s all I can tell you.

        Hey you have to take your lumps for a while. You screwed up. BADLY. But I wouldn’t remain a pleading, human punching bag indefinitely either. It’s no way to live.

        If he wants out, there is nothing you can do. He clearly does not want to do what is necessary — including look in the mirror — to fix this. His personality, his ego, his feelings, whatever, cannot be overcome. I sympathize with him. It’s a heavy blow, and if one is already somewhat dissatisfied with their mate, infidelity is the final blow and coup-de-grace for a marriage. It happens. In that case, there is literally nothing you can do but protect yourself, your interests and that of your children (if you have any). And move on. You had an affair for a reason. Painful as it is, everyone involved must face up to the truth.

      • Sorry, I am out of town and doing this from my phone, so it won’t be great or all that detailed. I can’t really give any better advice than WS already has. I still think counseling is your best option, and you need lots of patience. But if he’s just hell bent on punishment, and doesn’t seem interested in working on saving your marriage, it might be time to put on the. brakes, and just say enough is enough. You’re there to save your marriage, not be human punching bag until he feels satisfied you’ve suffered enougb.

      • Thank you WS and rb.
        A few context points .. it’s been about 10 months since D day. We are in couples counselling and have been for some time.
        I have done pretty much everything that this blog and everything else I’ve read has suggested. I have opened up my phone, my emails, I let him know where I am and who I am with, I have shut down my social media accounts and I have tried to do all the things the counsellor has suggested etc. etc.
        Maybe you are both right – I can’t do much more now. I can meet him over half way and make all the efforts – but if ultimately he can’t or won’t move on then there’s nothing more I can do. I can’t fix the marriage on my own.
        @WS He has basically answered the question you suggested. He has said we should separate and he can’t see a future wth me – and I guess I was hoping somehow there would be something I could do to change his mind. I think you are both telling me there isn’t. To be quite honest, I’d be happy to be a human punching bag if I thought it would save the marriage – I think the problem is he doesn’t want to save it.
        So I guess I just need to accept the consequences of what I’ve done and live with that. It’s gutting, heart wrenching. But I guess can’t force him to work on the marriage.
        Thank you both for your advice.

  7. saddespressedlonely –

    I don’t know your husband and his issues – I can only guess based on my own experience, and may or may not be right in any assessments I make. The only things I do know is that the pain of the discovery is one of the most devastating things I have ever had to deal with, and my life has not been without trauma. There are so many different aspects to forgiving and reconciliation, and I do believe these are two separate things recovering couples have to address simultaneously. Reconciliation involves rebuilding trust and security, re-establishing intimacy, rebuilding communication, and restoring good feelings between you. I also believe that “love” is a verb, a conscious choice you make, and an action that you perform, and nobody, no matter how angry or hurt or confused they are is unable to make the right choices or perform the right tasks that can put their marriage on the right track. Neither of you are powerless. He may feel powerless now, and is saying and doing these things because he feels like this is the only thing he has control over. He needs help for that, along with forgiving, trusting, and then moving forward in a positive direction. The relationship is dysfunctional, but you can’t fix that until he is able to think and act more constructively. If your therapist in unable to help you guys with pulling it all together, then you might consider looking for another one before you give up and pull the plug.

    I would also suggest trying to get him to read and explore this blog. He may be unwilling to do that, but if you can persuade him to, it might help. I know it has done a lot for me. I started with the “20 Mistakes” and “Biggest Mistakes” entries, and couldn’t stop reading from there. Then again, I desperately wanted to save my marriage, so if he does not, understanding you & why you did what you did may not be of the same importance to him. But it’s worth a try, right? I mean, I’m of the opinion that you should explore every avenue to marital reconciliation before you pull the plug. But that’s just me – I realize that people can only stand so much disappointment and frustration before they throw in the towel. And if it’s all anger, all the time, bordering on emotional abuse, while it is possible to correct that through therapy, if he doesn’t want to correct it, there’s only so much you can do. I look at my husband 100 x a day and want to break something over his head. I want to stomp and shout, and hurl all of the things he has hurt me with in his face, and make him feel just as bad as I do – hurt just as much. But I love him. I really do. And it’s not just about snatching back some possession that someone else tried to take away. I really do love this man, and I want to be with him. So no matter how clumsy and stupid he can be with the things he needs to do to save our marriage, I still have to do the best I can do, independent of whatever he does. That’s my part in it. If your husband can’t come to that place in himself, I don’t know what chance you have. It’s always a 50/50 proposition, even when one of you hasn’t cheated. It’s going to be that way after, but the recovery makes it so much more difficult.

    • Oh yeah – One other thing I wanted to add to my post for saddespressedlonely above is this from me (a fellow BS) to your husband…

      I know all too well how this feels, but one thing I think you should consider is that your wife is VERY remorseful for her actions, and wants to do everything in her power to make things right. Consider that this alone is kind of a rare thing and not something you should lightly dismiss, whether you choose to stay with her or not. People let us down in life. We let others down as well. And none of us has the power to recall our mistakes. All we can ever do is be remorseful. Ask for forgiveness. Do our very best to learn from our mistakes and be better people in the future. I truly believe that the mark of a good person is not in the mistakes they make, but in the way they learn from them, and try to redress them. We are all sinners. It’s only through our desire to be saints that God gives us any grace. If she was not sorry, if she showed no signs of remorse, then I’d say you’d be well rid of her. But I personally would think twice about casting aside someone who has learned the lessons she has, who knows and understands, even if it’s coming to her later than it should have, the cost of her actions, and how much she truly values her life with you. Though it may not feel that way to you now, it really is possible to go forward from here and have a stronger & happy marriage. I hope you’ll consider trying before you give up.

    • Thanks rb once again. You are a very balanced and insightful person and I appreciate you taking the time to give me your perspective.
      I think he needs to decide if underlying all of this pain and hurt – he really does love me. I fear that somehow this discovery has changed that – he no longer fundementally loves me. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say he no longer wants to love me.
      All I can do is create an environment where he can choose to love me and repair the marriage but I can’t make him take that road.

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