A few excerpts from correspondence I’ve received, including from a “hater”, and my answers to them that may be of interest to some of you. It has all been altered in such a way as to keep them anonymous.
“My husband’s affair started two years ago while he was on a project in another city. She also is married and has children. I discovered the affair about 6 months ago, and filed for divorce, although I told him I was open to working things out. He understood but wanted the divorce since he and the Other Woman were planning a life together. We decided to keep everything as is until after the holidays for the sake of our daughter. Since January 1, he has been telling me he has doubts about the OW, loves me, wants us to work, etc. Early Feb. he asked for time to break it off with the OW who has put their home on the market and asked her husband for a divorce. I tried to quantify the time…year, months, weeks. All he could promise was less than a year.
What is a reasonable timeline in your opinion to break up with the OW? I suggested he take a month break from her to assess if it is truly what he wants to do. He would rather break it off completely once he decides to come back to the marriage and counseling. Also, for tax purposes, he has a residence in another state and he splits his weekends between there and where we live, so we see him only every other weekend.”
A: Ah yes…a typical story. He’s beginning to see the OW more clearly. he’s beginning to see what he’s LOSING going down this path. And now he’s losing in a divorce. And he’s having second thoughts.
Frankly, I wouldn’t really tolerate it. So he’s stuck. He wants to keep both of you as an option? I think it’s absurd. Tell him that you’re going through with the divorce and that if he’s serious about your marriage, he will terminate things with her immediately and in front of you so that you can verify it. And agree to counseling. And be with you all the time. And his job is a problem. You can’t fix a marriage where one partner is home every other weekend. It’s ridiculous.
If he’s serious, he will take these steps. but personally if it were me, I wouldn’t allow someone to ping-pong back and forth between me and their lover. Not for one minute. I’d be divorcing them.
“My only complaint is that you really focus on the betrayed spouse being the root cause of the problems of the marriage. You are clear, and I agree, that the affair is all on you. I just think that in any relationship both people contribute to the issues. I’m having a hard time with you criticizing the letter writer for harshly blaming men with your equally harsh assertion that affairs are wrong, but really it’s the faithful spouse’s fault. The affair is just a symptom. Do you really believe you were the perfect husband, and your wife just refused to meet your needs? I have a feeling you contributed to at least fifty percent of the problems in your marriage. I imagine your wife’s needs were also not being met. You need to accept that you were very involved in state of your marriage. I think it is ridiculous to pass the buck onto your wife. Own your behavior, not just your affair.”
A: If you actually read my blog, you would see I’ve never blamed the betrayed spouse for the decisions of the cheater. Or as the “root cause of problems in the marriage.” Never. Nor did I ever blame my wife for my affair. Nor did I do anything accept take responsibility for my poor decision. I have never said I was a perfect spouse. In fact, what we found in our recovery — from really talking — is exactly how each of us was unhappy with the state of our marriage. And how we both took 100% responsibility for our contributions to that. I certainly committed the bigger sin, but we moved past “blame” and got down to “where do we go from here and how do we fix it?” instead.
I talk about the shared responsibilities throughout my blog. I think you’re one of those who is used to reading how the betrayed spouse has NO responsibility. I get it. That’s how a lot of betrayed bloggers portray themselves. And then seem to complain that their marriages aren’t recovering and/or the person left them anyway!
I have always tried to be fair. I’m as hard on cheaters that email me (when appropriate) as betrayeds (again, when appropriate). More often than not, I tell some of my correspondents to start divorce proceedings. That their cheating spouses aren’t showing enough remorse for what they’ve done. You just don’t see it here because people would rather ask me questions in private.
Also, I think I write things that make some people uncomfortable because I don’t spew the usual dogma. The things I read that other people are doing in response to their spouses’ affairs are, to me, are not a recipe not for forgiveness, healing and moving forward, but of blame, nastiness and ultimately divorce. I always tell people — you can certainly use this as a reason to get divorced! I’m not saying you can’t. But if you wish to save your marriage, you need to consider all points of view too. Understanding and compassion — and taking down the rhetoric a notch — precede forgiveness. And reconciliation cannot occur without compassion, understanding and forgiveness. It just stands to reason. So I’ve tried to provide insight into former/current cheaters and on the subject.
I’m not one that subscribes to the myth that happy and content people usually have affairs. Few do. There is enough blame to go around. I present all sides. And if you read even my TOP post, you would see that I NEVER think affairs are justified, NEVER suggest that people have them. ALWAYS suggest that people avoid them, and NEVER blame betrayeds for the decisions of the cheater. But I offer the well-supported theorem that affairs don’t occur in a vacuum, as well. Something is usually going on in the marriage. Something not good. Critical needs are being not met. Or worse, dismissed out of hand. It’s the number one reason both men and women cheat — because they no longer feel loved, wanted, understood, appreciated and desired. If you use that as a starting point, it’s amazing how quickly important issues will be focused on and not the affair itself, which to me, is almost always a symptom of a larger issue, within the marriage, within the cheater, or both. Deal with root causes, not symptoms. It works better.
I don’t require that people agree with me. Or even read my blog. I just ask that they portray me and it accurately and fairly. Thanks for writing.
“My wife of recently had an affair for about 2 months. I found out about it around the same time it became public and she admitted it. I was very calm throughout the whole process, never lashing out or attempting to destroy her, because she was and still is my best friend, I still love her unconditionally, we have young children that I care deeply for, and I don’t want to hurt her. We are at a point where I have forgiven her emotionally and have been able to begin reconstructing the trust we once had. The problem I am now facing is I cant forgive her sexually. .. I just cant seem to get past her having sex with someone else. The conclusion that I am drawing from this is that in order to heal and forgive her sexually and move on with our lives I feel I should experience sex with someone else. I just don’t see how else to move on and to look at her the same way unless I try to look at it from her perspective as sex is just sex and to say we’ve both been there and done that, its not a big deal and its time to move on. Thoughts?
It’s a bad, bad idea. It won’t work and will likely end in the dissolution of your marriage. I wrote a whole blog entry on it. Here’s my thoughts: https://affairadvice.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/engaging-in-a-revenge-affair/
I assure you that a revenge affair is not the same, nor will it give you the relief you think it will or get you anywhere closer to forgiveness. I would think long and hard about taking a step like that.
“I had an affair with a man I have known for years, but never saw as anything more than a friend. It only lasted 8 weeks, we didn’t have sex. We both have been married for more than 15 years and both have kids. We both knew we had a HUGE amount to lose if we were discovered. All hell let loose. My affair partner went home and told his wife. His wife has demanded all contact be severed permanently.
I spoke to him yesterday for the first time since we were caught. He will not meet me as he has promised his wife no contact ever, he shouldn’t even be speaking to me on the phone. He insists he really loves his wife, he wants his marriage to work, he regrets terribly what we did and that we wishes it had never happened and he could turn the clock back. His wife is not coping, he is also in a mess and the only reason he is still at home is because of his kids.
I told him I can’t stop thinking about him. That I meant everything I said to him. I wish I could stop, but I can’t. It’s absolute torture and it hurts so bad. He says he is sorry but he can’t think about anything except his wife and family, and fixing the damage he has done. We cannot have anymore contact, ever. I am heartbroken and confused. How can he turn his feelings off so quickly? Was he just using me? Please can u give me some advice? He told me he had fallen for me, as deep as anyone can fall for someone, so how can he just stop his feelings? I can’t. Also, we downplayed it all and have not told our spouses the full scope of the affair. What do I do?”
A: I think you’re jumping to conclusions. Who says he “just turned it off”? Or that the didn’t care? Or was playing you? The simple reality is this: He probably does care for you and want you, but when the affair was discovered, he made a choice — to fix his marriage. He got clarity that day. He realized what a mistake it all was and what he was on the verge of losing — his family, his dignity, finances, etc etc. So I wouldn’t take it so personally. Besides, haven’t you gone through enough? Why do you want to keep this connection with him open and risk even more? You need to get real. You got caught. Be grateful your husband is willing to work things out with you. You need to forget about this episode in your life. He’s showing real maturity, even if you find it painful. And yes, he DOES have to cut you off.
Also, the danger in not telling the full truth is that IF the truth DOES come out (and you have no idea if it will or not), then it will result in a set-back in your marital recovery. A major one. It’s better to just tell the whole truth and let the chips fall where they may. Did you see my blog entry on the 20 mistakes former cheaters make? One is giving out trickle-truth. It’s very dangerous.
You can’t carry lies and reconcile your marriage. You can’t have ANY more contact with this man and fix your marriage. Read that blog entry again on the 20 mistakes former cheaters make. Its the best advice I have.