For Cheaters and Those Who Have Been Betrayed

purposeMy Blog has a purpose:  To help others while helping me deal with me. It’s part of my personal penance. So let me summarize what I’ve said to others before.

If you think in any way I’m excusing affairs. I’m not. Let me be completely frank about affairs: They are 100% WRONG!

  • If you’re in an affair, get out now before it’s too late.
    It causes incredible devastation to the person you’re supposed to be committed to.  Maybe to your kids too.  And it’s not worth it. It’s not the answer. It’s a temporary way to feel good.   It is 100% wrong and it’s YOUR fault!   If it hasn’t been discovered, terminate it now before it does.  And it hurts you personally. I feel DAMAGED because of what I did, not just because I got caught. It was stressful being in one from day one on.  I was becoming depressed and an alcoholic trying to cope with it all.  And now I feel shame and guilt for the devastation I caused my wife.  I don’t feel like I had a good time and “got away with it.” I feel damaged and diminished. I have yet to really forgive myself.  Don’t do what I did.  Please remember this if nothing else:  Affair love is an illusion, based on a lie, fueled by fantasy, protected by self-justification, insecurity and ego. It will only temporarily deliver on your expectations and fall short of most of them. Is it any wonder why real relationships, based on an affair, fail at a rate twice that of divorce?  I doubt most of you have really consider the likelihood that you will be caught (you probably will be) and the true fall-out from having an affair.
  • If you’re considering one, don’t do it. Go to counseling. Get out of your marriage. Do whatever you have to do, but affairs are temporary bandaids, not solutions. And most of the time, they end up blowing up in your face.  They won’t ultimately make you happy.
  • If you are recovering from one, be open, be vulnerable, love, forgive, learn and live a better life!  Make it a priority to use this terrible chapter in your life to grow and mature and make things better. Don’t wallow in it. Don’t punish because of it.  LEARN from it and have a better life. Turn the negative into a positive.

But I also believe and am living this truism:  Infidelity does not have to mean an end to the relationship!  I truly believe based on what I’ve been through that there is hope for all of us.   Because affairs are devastating, they are often not handled very constructively in relationships.  In some cases, the best option may be to end the relationship (e.g., where there are multiple affairs, no genuine remorse or plans for recovery). But for an overwhelming majority of cases of infidelity, not only can the relationship be saved but it can evolve into a stronger and more resilient and even more intimate relationship than before. But the right attitudes must be adopted. The right steps must be taken. A plan for real recovery must be made and agreed to. Substantial changes in behavior must be made, especially by the cheater. But there IS hope!

When You Are Ready, Look For Ways To Turn The Negatives Into Positives, To Restore The Trust, And To Regain Your Footing.  Once you get past the initial shock and pain, there will come a time when you have the perfect opportunity to recreate your marriage if you want to.   If both parties agree, then both can come to the table with the expectation that they are sort of starting all over again. Yes, the affair is what you brought you here and that’s a bad thing. There is no doubt about that.

But, what’s done is done. You can not change the past. But, you do have control over what happens in the present and in the future. You can use this as an opportunity to start honestly and openly communicating so that you’re both very clear on what went wrong and on what has to change to fix this.

In truth, your marriage right now is a blank canvas. You can paint a new picture that is going to be pleasing to both of you or you can dwell on the past, focus on the negative, and let those thoughts and perceptions cloud the picture that remains.  As painful as it is, an affair will often show you exactly where your life was not working. Yes, often this is through no fault of your own. You can’t control the circumstances, but you can control the outcome.  Define where you want to go from here and then open your heart and open up the conversation. Define exactly what you need to happen and then begin taking the steps that are going to get you there. Understand that you control what your life looks like by making it so. Yes, the affair happened and it  feels awful, but take back control and don’t remain a victim. And no, you can’t control what your spouse thinks or does, but you can control your reaction to their actions. No one can control what you think, feel, or experience.   Decide where you want to go from here and take one step at a time until you’ve back where you want to be and are stronger than ever.

That being said, I have a message for each of you:

You people in affairs or who had an affair that was discovered and are trying to recover your marriage, you have a lot of work to do. You have DEVASTATED someone, even if your needs weren’t being met. You and I have committed the single most hurtful and destructive thing that can occur in a marriage where monogamy is the stated goal. You must make real amends to them for what you’ve done. You have to remake your relationship and make sure your needs are both known and met. It’s your responsibility to communicate your needs to them when they aren’t.  Similarly, you must meet THEIR needs too and make sure you’re finding out where you are falling short.  You must make changes in your behavior to show them that you are now living an open, honest, and transparent life. No secrets. Appropriate boundaries with members of the opposite sex.  You have to do what it takes to make them feel “safe” again.  I have a blog entry on the major mistakes you need to avoid if you want to save your marriage after the betrayal you’ve perpetrated.

That being said, this doesn’t mean you need to be a human punching bag indefinitely.  Recovery is a two-way street.  Take your lumps, but insist on positive steps to recovery.  Don’t let them use your affair against you like a stick to get their way or to put you down.   Forgiveness precedes healing. If they haven’t forgiven you, you’re getting nowhere.  And some never do.  Beware of resentment building up inside you because of punishment over your affair that never seems to end — it’s the cancer of recovery.  If you feel resentment building, you need to speak up!   Yes, YOU have to change your behavior and that’s a huge thing. But THEY have to get past all of this and come to the table with honesty and love.  You need to establish whether recovery or punishment is their agenda, because both cannot be pursued simultaneously. But you are the people that cheated. You have a lot to make up for.

And if they HAVE forgiven you, openly acknowledge and praise the gift they have given you. And don’t fumble it.  Forgiveness comes with a price for them – -they have to swallow their pride, compromise some of their values, and go on faith that you won’t do this to them again.  You need to appreciate this fact.

YOU have to do five major things:

1.  Take 100% responsibility for the poor choices you made.

2.  Shown significant, honest remorse for what you did

3.  Make amends to your spouse for what you’ve done

4.  Live a more honest, authentic and transparent life

5.  Commit yourself 100% to your spouse/family, and change your behavior so you don’t even give the APPEARANCE of improper behavior

If you don’t do these things, your marriage has almost no chance of recovery.

IF YOUR EX-LOVER IS NOW HARASSING AND STALKING YOU, TAKE HEED! This is what happened to me. If this is occurring, send to them in writing a CLEAR note telling them to not contact you, your spouse, your family and the people around you in any way. That their continued behavior may result in legal action. If they continue, you need to preserve ALL evidence of their contacts — if they call, send an email to yourself with what they said. If they left a voicemail, save it. If they send you an email, save it. If they show up near your home or where you work, log it in writing to an email to yourself. Get a lawyer and know the laws concerning “Stalking” in your State. You will need the evidence to tell the story of a pattern of stalking and harassment to pursue a restraining order. “Bunny Boilers” frequently do not stop until the law is put on them. Even after I took mine to Court, for almost 2 years now, she still attempts to contact me every 4-6 weeks. I’ve saved it all.

For you betrayed spouses, there is no one answer to recovering.  Sometimes marriages recover, but often they don’t.  Affairs are not the cause of your problems, but almost always a symptom of something that already went wrong.  Sometimes the wayward spouse uses the affair as an exit strategy.  They aren’t really that sorry as much as embarrassed and the reasons they had an affair still exist. Sometimes a marriage is fatally flawed and no books, no websites, no discussions are going to fix it.  The affair was a sign it’s just plain over.

However, for most, there is hope and recovery can and does occur.  If you want to recover, you have to come from a place of love and real forgiveness.   Forgiveness precedes healing.  And healing requires compassion.  Bringing up the affair over and over again may make you feel better, but it won’t help in your recovery.  You have a choice to make — save your marriage or seek justice (and lose the marriage). It’s up to you, largely. Realize that some waywards that terminate their affairs and agree to marital recovery are still somewhat on the fence. Most of them cheat for a reason — that you weren’t meeting their most critical needs.  So as long as their needs continue to not be met, they remain vulnerable to leaving, if not another affair. I have a blog entry on the 20 common mistakes Betrayed Spouses make in recovery that you should avoid if you wish your marriage to truly recover and prosper.

Also, recognize that your Cheating Spouse is both an addict and a “war survivor” in many ways.  They just came through the wringer. They are beating themselves up and you are beating them up too.  Maybe their affair partner is beating them up too (like mine did). They are shell-shocked and vulnerable.   And like a drug addict, they were addicted to their affair partner.   No Contact is a MUST!!  But realize that a period of withdrawal is occurring. They still feel the itch. The need. It takes time, but if recovery proceeds, they can get the person out of their system.  Support that.  Don’t drive them away and back to their affair partner.

For those of you whose spouses had affairs and left you for their affair partner, you have my utmost sympathy.   Pining for them, keeping hope alive, will keep you from moving on with your lives. They did a horrible thing and it’s a monstrous way to exit a marriage. Consider that this person was not right for you, even if you love them.  They trampled on you and aren’t even sorry!  Find your pride.  And remember life is short. Brush them off you and move on.  Yes, it’s painful. But sometimes marriages cannot be fixed, no matter what you do. It takes two committed to doing it.  The affair might have been what they were looking for to end things. Some people are like that.  Sorry.

 
 
© COPYRIGHT  2013 Recovering Wayward Enterprises, LLC
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29 thoughts on “For Cheaters and Those Who Have Been Betrayed

  1. I once thought U were arrogant & unrepentant, but now I see you in a positive light. I’ve referred this post to:…

    • Thanks. But I have to say, it’s not really a great post. It was the first thing I wrote and I have written on these topics, in pieces, more extensively in later entries as I had more time to really reflect on the topic and read others’ comments and blogs. I was really thinking of overhauling this post, to be honest. But thanks anyway. 🙂

  2. Ok. I posted them all. Welcome. Just be respectful, that’s all I ask. I’m not going to debate people on my opinions or concepts I’ve learned. And if people want to judge me, I ask that they do it silently. But you’re not doing that. So again, welcome.

  3. Having been cheated on (my ex was a serial cheater) and having cheated myself, you are absolutely right. My affair was an exit strategy from an unhappy relationship. And yes, you do beat yourself up over it.

    That is why I have been able to be so patient with my AP while he decides who he wants to be with. i realize it’s very unlikely to be me. i understand all too well how guilty and torn he feels. That’s why i try not to pressure him into leaving her. He has to leave that relationship because it is what HE wants…not because it’s what I want.

  4. I just wanted to say thank you for this blog. I am 10 days after DDAY in which my husband confessed and I am trying to keep it together and your blog is helping. I have never known pain like this. My husband confessed his affair( it was super emotional and they had sex 1) but my heart is broken. I kicked him out and he is begging for a second chance. We have 2 children together and I am trying to make the right decision for my family.

    • You’re welcome.I do hope the blog helps. I can’t tell you whether it’s a good idea or not to reconcile with him– only you can decide that — but perhaps the blog will give you various perspectives while considering this question

      • While you were having your affair did you still love your wife ? My husband told me he never stopped loving me, I am having trouble believing him. He told me he doesn’t know if he loved the other woman but had strong feelings for her…I believe he is coming out of the fog and starting to see the whole picture. Just curious if you can love two people at once. My husband hates himself at the moment but I can’t help him, as I am only thinking about myself and my children.

      • Yes, I think it’s not only possible, but likely. Men are very good at compartmentalizing things. I wrote about it already in a blog but I’ll reprint it here

        “The majority of men report never wavering in their love for their wives during the affair. Women often find this to be impossible to believe. What they don’t get is this: Meny are able to compartmentalize and see the two relationships as distinct and separate. This is hard for women to understand, but it’s very male thinking and is in fact hard-wired into our brains biologically.

        Compartmentalization refers to an ability to divide something up into segments or parts as a way to keep from feeling overwhelmed by all the stress in men’s lives. Because men have little training when it comes to their emotional world, men have perfected the art of segmenting or compartmentalizing their difficult feelings away from their awareness in order to deal with their immediate needs…one chunk at a time.

        Thus, men, can mentally separate the two relationships in their heads and literally one has little to do with the other. Or literally men can compartmentalize and separate physical intimacy and emotional attachment. They can get physical with other women without actually getting emotionally involved. This is why some men will say the affair meant nothing. Because in their compartmentalized brains it actually was “just sex.” It literally meant nothing to these men!

        But this is not the norm. Most affairs are not only about sex. Even for men, affairs are largely about emotions — love, acceptance, understanding. Sex is the bonus, but not the point of it or why it happened (unless sex is what is largely missing in the marriage).

        So during an affair many men may still love their wives and still want their mistress. Or even love both. And this seems very logical to them. And, very often, they actually think they are solving their problems on their own and sparing you the bother. Often, they think that (and desperately hope) that you will never find out. (NOTE: Thus, going back to their wives may not be as a big of a leap as some mistresses believe). However, even these things usually come to a head and the husband looks around and realizes that the wife is the only one who seems to be living in the real world and is the only one who offers any stability. It’s around this time that he realizes that he’s been sold an impossible bill of goods and he’ll typically just want his regular life back. He also will typically realize that he’s been so unfair to his wife, has taken her for granted, and was wrong all along. He may realize that the person he truly loves is his wife. And that this never changed. He was just fooling himself all along. “

  5. Thanks for the post. I know you can’t answer for your wife, but how long did it take her to get ‘over’ the initial shock. I just can’t stop picturing my husband and the OW. It is haunting me. I am humiliated.

    • You know, I really couldn’t say. Only she could answer that. I suppose the images become REALLY hard to get rid of, and probably never completely go away, but I think what helped us is that, as soon as we could, we put the AFFAIR (the symptom) behind us and worked hard on the poor marriage (the cause). by focusing our attention on that, I think it helped both of us to not obsess over things we could not change and instead try and rebuild our marriage into something better. I know she obsessed over the OW however for a long time. She would visit her facebook page, etc. bristles if there was ever any reference to even her first name (associated with some other person). I don’t see that any more. The OW is a page we’ve turned. Will she ever fully forget? No. I doubt it. How could one? I wouldn’t be able to either. but I think the more you work on the marriage, the more that this sad episode becomes a part of the past.

    • that’s a broad question. of course I did. My ex-OW was seemingly everything my wife was not. They had little in common. Very different sorts of women. I think that would be normal. Are you married? did you ever compare your husband to previous boyfriends?

  6. I am married…I have compared my husband to other BF’s. but I feel that is different. My husband was dating me and his ‘girlfriend’ at the same time. Gives me a sense of insecurity….will he always compare me to her? Why did he have to have an affair? why wasn’t I good enough?

    • You are feeling things that are very common in these circumstances. Why did he have an affair? Only he can answer that. Happy and content people rarely have them. There is/was something critical to him that is missing in your marriage, or some big flaw within himself, or both. That’s they “why”. You will drive yourself, however, crazy thinking about “her”. She wasn’t the issue. She was the symptom of something bigger going on inside your marriage and inside himself. Focus on that and you will find the answers you seek

  7. I’d like some advice. I have been married 20 years always been faithful but got to the point in my life where I just feel unhappy discontented and I don’t feel in love anymore. I had a long distance emotional affair with someone also married the sane amount of time both of us with kids. We talk every day, video call, text throughout the day and we met up once and had an amazing time with fantastic sex of course as it always is with someone new, especially after being with the same person for so many years. We both fell in love and gave spoken about maybe one day how we could be together. There were so many obstacles though and now his wife has found out and he is trying to make it work with her also for the sake of their kids. My husband knows nothing about this and I do want to try to make our marriage ok I am

    going to try to get counselling I just at the moment can not get over losing this Man. He is still texting me when he can. What do I do? My head says forget him but my heart says no no no I love him don’t let him go keep contact.

    • You have to block him and cut it off. If you do not, your marriage stands no chance. And it increases the likelihood your husband finds out. Doesn’t matter what your heart says. You have to make a choice.

      • I am trying hard to forget him but its not what I want. I want to be with him I feel at the moment I am just having to settle for what I have not because thats what I want. That I’m only trying to rekindle my marriage because I can’t have him

      • If I had a choice I would want to leave to be with him but as he is now trying to save his marriage I am going to see if I can rekindle feelings for my husband but I don’t know if I can

  8. I cannot express how thankful I am that I found this blog. Almost 2 years and still picking up the pieces. I became severely depressed and hated myself more than anything I ever hated. I could barely get up in the morning to face the next day. I almost fell back in the old rut because complete avoidance of the past had not exactly been possible. I decided to look for help again and found this blog after which I revisited an old email address with things saved and I was shocked in disbelief how different I am now from back when I made the biggest mistake of my life. I now realize that it was like an addiction because I look back and wonder if I perhaps was posessed or something. D-day changed it all. I realized that I was living a surreal fantasy that drained me emotionally and it made me ill. Like a bad infection. You need to cut it out as you would the venom of a poisonous snake that bit you. It is going to be more painful than anything you ever did but it will save your life.

    I tried to find resources back after D-Day to help myself figure out how things came to happen because I used to think that I am the last person that would ever EVER sink to a non-deserving hurtful human being. Wish I saw this back then, but at the same time I really just came to the same conclusion of ALL OF WHAT YOU SAID IN ALL OF YOUR BLOG POSTINGS. It was as if I am reading my own account of what I did and what happened and how I tried my utmost to retrace my steps back into the light. I am choking up right now and I swear to everyone reading this that there is nothing worse than going through this. Nothing. At some point I even thougth being a murderer might be easier to deal with than this. The excrutiating pain is just absolutely indescribable. Thank God for this blog. Even after the fact this is still helpful in how to deal with certain situations. I don’t believe that I will ever be able to have a normal life again because the self-disgust and hate always seems to bite with flashes of the past that somehow never seems to go away. It gets a little more bearable every day but it kills me to think that I hurt the one I love most in this world. I feel that I need to serve the rest of my life as a martyr -with pleasure!- and give everything I have to just try and make up for one drop of the tears that I caused. Please do not take this road of sorrow. I can’t explain the pain and I can’t explain the burden. It will always follow you like a scarlet sign on your face. I will always live with the regret of what I did and the pain I caused. I am so happy I did make the right choice even if it was almost too late. I can’t possibly express my gratitude for being given a second chance. Never ever ever again.

    Don’t fool yourself by thinking a close friendship won’t be your undoing, don’t fool yourself and think you have full control over all of your emotions, or even that that “good feeling” is really good at all. It will mess you up. It will FUCK YOU UP, for goodness sake IT SURELY WILL. You cannot comprehend. You just can’t. Maybe some needs to play with fire to burn and learn, but this is one thing that I tell you will leave scars for life. For THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. FOR EVER. Comprehend THAT!

    I am looking forward and will never turn around, may the angels be my witness. I pray that you will find peace and penance in helping others moving forward from their grievous mistake(s) and hopefully help others avoid this un-(can’t even think of a word)-thinkable horrifying, self-disgracing, dishonorable, fatal choice that can NEVER fully be erased. With that I’m logging out and moving forward and forward only. The love of my life has given me a second chance and that is all that I could ever have hoped for and so much less than what I deserved. No need to ever revisit this in my mind. Absolutely never. I may not be able to change the past, but the present is a gift that I am hugging so tight. Just hugging it like it is my lifeline, because it is, and I will never let it go again. NEVER.

    • I am so pleased for you that you have a second chance. I’m not sure I’m going to be that lucky but I relate to everything you said on your comment. It’s kind of nice to know I am not the only one feeling like that at times …

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