Staying Married After a Second Affair

Annah Elizabeth Uncategorized 16 Comments

Last night I wrote this post, which was inspired by a piece about Bill Clinton’s sixty-sixth birthday.

That article questioned if the former president could have known, the day he met then-President JFK, that he would someday succeed the great man.

That question spawned another musing for me: Did it ever dawn on Bill that he might someday have a scandalous affair while married to the love of his life?

And, furthermore, how did the former First Couple go on to have such a solid relationship after such public ordeals as his affair with an intern and subsequent impeachment trial.

There are so many factors to overcoming adultery, so many components that the hurt partner must process, and so many that the cheating partner must process. I examined several of these areas as I mulled over those questions.

As I reread that post, today, I am compelled to clarify something because I feel it may seem flip or trite or to treat multiple infidelities as insignificant.

And as I say that, the question arises: What happens when there is a second offense?
I’m guessing that Bill and Hillary and all those before me will say much the same: Rinse. Repeat.
The Rinse/Repeat comment in no way suggests that the second offense is trivial.
It is however, designed to prompt the parties to reevaluate some of the questions they should ask themselves if they are pondering trying to move forward in the marriage. To reconsider if the steps to healing and reconciling individual and collective conflict bear merit.
It has been my experience that we humans tend to bury unresolved conflict when good fortune befalls us, or when the discord is no longer a priority in our daily routine.
For instance, after my oldest living son was born, I quit looking for the answers to the tough questions I’d been asking regarding the unexpected death of my firstborn.
Why?
What if?
How?
Am I a failure?
Did I do something to cause my son’s death?
Is God punishing me?
Did my son really die because of my sins (as one document mailed to me suggested.)
With a growing infant to tend to, those questions were buried deep in the recesses of my mind; only to resurface with a vengeance when my best friend and Warren had an affair.
Which leads me to another common action: sometimes we rush to rationalize events; we look for anything to blame, for if we have a cause, then we have an answer.
And we believe that answer will serve to heal all of our open wounds.
Unfortunately, this scapegoat is often a smokescreen, one that merely delays the inevitable.
In the case of my husband’s year-long affair with my best friend, I blamed our marital problems, the countless hours we were spending developing our young business, the stresses from Gavin’s death, the stresses from the miscarriages, the stresses of raising two toddlers under the age of six, the stresses of his parents’ refusal to let us live our own lives, the depression I was combating…
I also blamed myself for practically handing my hubby over to my gal pal, as she and I shared those delicious and demanding details of marriage that only best buds share.
Not to say that I didn’t grieve and I wasn’t angry, because I sure did, and I sure was mad, and depressed, and I felt victimized.
But we seemed to recover fairly quickly, all things being relative. He and I had a few couple’s counseling sessions and I dealt with my insecurities over the matter, which I believed to be a continuation of the work I’d already been doing.
Before I knew it, our life was back on track and better than it had ever been. I’d sit with my new girlfriends who usually had some gripe or another about their spouses, and I’d sit with my mouth shut. Honestly. I felt that anything I said would be gloating. There wasn’t one thing I’d have changed about my marriage.
I couldn’t have been more shocked than when I accidentally stumbled across the unknown, repeating number on Warren’s phone bill.
I knew right then and there, the moment I presented him with a name and an address and he admitted to another sexual dalliance, that his infidelity had nothing to do with me or our marriage. It was all about Warren and his baggage.
And I knew right then and there what I expected from him if we were going to stay married.
I had no doubt that he loved me, so that wasn’t an issue. His remorse was evident and genuine.
What he did need to do was accept responsibility for his behavior and not blame the external.
He needed to do everything within his power to heal himself.
He needed to decide that therapy would be beneficial for him, to seek out his own counselor, to make his own appointments, and initiate a great deal of conversation with me.
He needed to act in a manner which showed he recognized the dilemmas he’d created for me, and to make valiant attempts at being mindful of my fears, doubts, and concerns.
I knew that I didn’t want to make a hasty decision about separation or divorce.
Panic would have only compounded our problems by affecting our financial situation, not to mention the emotional states of our budding adolescents.
The only immediate request I did make was that he be tested for STDs and he show me a copy of the bill and grant me permission to access the results if I so chose.
And then, while I reeled from the shock and evaluated my life, I waited to see how he handled himself and the situation.
I said many times to my closest friends, “Someday something is going to happen and I’m going to know, one way or another, if this marriage going to work or not.”
That day came when Warren answered his cell phone one day, while standing on the top rung of a ladder, a drill in one hand and a panel of sheetrock in the other…
In that moment I became fairly certain I’d be staying married after a second infidelity…
Have you been involved in adultery? When was the moment you decided that the marriage was, or wasn’t, going to work out?
Soon…

Comments 16

  1. Thank you for writing this. I just learned yesterday of my husband’s second affair. The first happened over two years ago, and we had gone through over a year of therapy, concentrated effort to rebuild our marriage, and now this. I so appreciate what you wrote about this being your husband’s issue that he needed to fix. That seems so clear to me now, that the affairs are not about me or even our marriage, but about his issues that he needs to own and then work on. After the first affair, I immediately knew that I wanted to stay married and work it out. Now I don’t know–I will need to wait and see what his response will be. Thank you for being so honest–it helps to read the words of someone who has gone through the same thing. I know you wrote this post a while back, so I hope you are doing well now.

  2. Dear Anonymous…

    Sorry for the delay of this reply. Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. I am sorry you have found yourself in this situation, but applaud your hesitation to act impulsively.

    It is difficult staying in a marriage of uncertainty and in the face of so many who are quick to chastise us for staying by calling us “weak” or “insecure” or, even more frustratingly, “fools.”

    Only you comprehend the “Bigger Picture” of all that encompasses your relationship and only you can decide if you feel your husband is remorseful of the pain and suffering he has brought to you and your marriage AND genuine in his intent to unlock what is causing him to make destructive choices.

    No matter the choices you two make moving forward, the path itself will be uncertain with twists and turns and uphills and downhills…life is like that, too…

    My wish for you is that you will rejoice in the moments of clarity, accepting them for what they are, to remain as steadfast as possible in the knowledge that you didn’t cause the adultery, to have courage to understand and accept any role you might have played in feeding your spouse’s insecurities, to move forward with your head held high, and to know above all else that you are not alone…

    Yours in healing,
    ~AE

  3. I feel like my husbands second affair means I am wortgless, i am not good enough. How do you and or him recognize the problems are his?

  4. Dear Reader Anonymous…

    First, thank you for being here, for your courage to heal your hurts and to comment.

    Secondly, you are good enough, and though I can tell you this, you must come to a place where you know this in your own heart. If you keep choosing healing, you will come to this understanding…

    I am assuming something in this reply, that both you and your spouse had the understanding that you wanted a monogamous relationship… How did I and/or him recognize the problems were his? I can only speak from my own experience…

    I recognized it the moment I learned of his second affair, simply because on the outside our relationship seemed to be fully healed, with both of us acting with confidence and love toward one another and ourselves.

    He realized that his choice to repeat a behavior that had brought each of us so much conflict and pain came from his private counseling, and possibly through our discussions.

    What I realized as time went on, is that I was a contributor (BUT IN NOW WAY TO BLAME FOR HIS ACTIONS) to some of the behaviors that made him feel like he needed more than our marriage. Sometimes that happens, BUT, it’s important for one to be honest and to decipher the reason for that thinking. In my case, my husband himself didn’t feel adequate, didn’t feel like he was getting what he wanted from the marriage, but also didn’t know how to talk about it…He also had learned to blame others when things didn’t feel good or right. AND I had always been the type of person to ACCEPT BLAME… Which, of course was a disastrous combination…

    I’d like to share two articles I wrote that might give you a better understanding of these things I mention above…

    “It’s Not Personal”: http://thefivefacets.blogspot.com/2013/10/its-not-personal.html

    “It Takes Two”: http://thefivefacets.blogspot.com/2013/08/it-takes-two.html

    Thanks, again, for reaching out. Please don’t hesitate to contact me (via e-mail @ thefivefacets@aol.com or by comment) if I can help you by sharing anything else…

    All my very best, Journeyer…
    Yours in healing…
    ~AE

  5. A second affair this he denied for the last year until I placed the truth infront of him. He is silent seems to show no remorse, has not said one word.
    But over the last year I had similar proof and approached him he stepped back from the attending events atvthevlocation he met her but continued the affair. It’s as if he thought it would remain in the dark forever.
    It spins to think of the turmoil for my children. Had I not delve into stories like these, I would feel do alone so angry ready to make a rash decision.
    To know others are feeling exactly as I am dealing with similar circumstances understand my Dilemma from a standpoint not understood by those so quick to judge, criticize.

    In one aspect of my life I am so together perfirm excellent at work. At home I stand tall for my kids. Show the m strength but my reality is vimete turmoil.

    So I am thankful to have found this site and glad others are sharing their pain strength and understanding.

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      Author

      Dear Jen,
      Thank you for your courage to heal and for finding our little neighborhood here. I am sorry for your loss of a marriage as you knew it to be but am glad you are able to find some things you need to help you as you move forward in the coming days, weeks, and months.

      Though we cannot know exactly what your are experiencing, feeling, and thinking, there are many of us who have traveled a similar path to that which you currently trod. Please feel free to reach out via e-mail, if you would like someone to chat with.

      Above, Neighbor, please know you have many allies in healing. You can do this, Jen… you can find a way to heal your heart and go on to live your best life in the face of this adversity…

      Thinking of you and sending love and light…

      Yours in hope, healing, and happiness,

      ~AE

  6. My husband didn’t have a second affair exactly; he had told me about his affair with a coworker that was supposedly over, and that he supposedly was the one who ended it. Three years later, I found out that they kept in contact while we were supposed to be working together, that the affair was deeper and longer than I’d been led to believe, and that she followed him to his new office after he left his first one to get away from her. He could have turned her away so easily, but he chose not to, and so their entanglement continued. She also told him that she loved him right before he left his job, and he responded that he loved her, too. I’ve heard all sorts of excuses and explanations, but he was so angry and often cruel to me during the year after I was told, when I was so hurt and afraid – he still worked in the same room with her – and he was still friendly with her. I honestly feel like it’s a second affair, an emotional one, that I didn’t know about, with the same person. And even worse than the second betrayal is his behavior towards me. He acted as if I was the one keeping us from moving forward. It was an awful time but I thought we were at least a team, trying to survive this together. Now I know that wasn’t the case and has never been the case. These last revelations have about killed the love I had for him. We have three young children, and I’m staying for them. I resent so much what he did – I know all about how it’s hard to disentangle, but you know what? I did a lot of hard things to stay together. So many sleepless nights, so much pain and secrecy, so much loss and grief. Yet he couldn’t stand to be the ‘bad guy’, he couldn’t tell her to go home to her husband and baby. He loved the attention and so did she. And now our lives are crumbling around us and our children are in danger of losing their home. I regret the day I met that man. Thank you for listening.

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      Author

      Dear Jennifer,
      I am sorry for your suffering and the pain you are facing, yet I am happy for your courage to reach out to someone and I’m honored to have been here when you needed a neighbor to share your story and heartache with.

      I can relate to your statement “but he was so angry and often cruel to me during the year after I was told, when I was so hurt and afraid.” Not that it makes it right, but often times when we’ve done something we’re not proud of but aren’t ready to accept accountability for, we blame others. And sometimes when we’re afraid, we lash out at the very people we are closest to, at the very people we feel safest with. And sometimes, when we’re afraid we might lose someone we love, we push them away (usually unconsciously) because in some twisted way then we won’t become the “rejected” when that fear becomes reality. It’s just one of those crazy ways our mind thinks its protecting us, when in fact, it is counterproductive movement.

      Please know that, yes, you are facing a second affair and a second death of the beliefs, hopes, and dreams you’d come to attain after realization of the first. Comparing our circumstances to those of others can sometimes hold us in grief because it doesn’t honor what we are feeling. In it’s own right, you are experiencing a second loss, it’s just that the details are a little different than the ones you are holding up as comparison.

      Be proud of those hard things you did to stay, for they are real. Do you think your husband made a few hard choices when he moved to a new job? If yes, do you think he might be willing to consider counseling? Individually or together? Or both? If he did find another job in an effort to end that relationship, he did so because he was choosing you and your family. And if she did follow him, then that only adds to a whole lot of confusion, brings in his own fears and doubts and adds to guilt and shame and all the emotions that led him to step outside of your marital vows in the first place. A trained counselor might be able to help unravel all of that and give him strategies to help him keep moving forward. A counselor can also help the two of you figure out how to best help one another in the face of your own needs, fears, beliefs, and misunderstandings (something we face in every form of relationship that relies in part on communication.) And, more importantly, is this something you’d be willing to do?

      You said you are staying for the children. It is important that your children know both parents love them, that they are not responsible or in any way to blame for the struggles the parents are facing, but it is equally important for them to see their parents taking care of themselves individually and together. And when two parents can parent cooperatively-be it married or not-the children have the best chance of feeling safe and loved.

      And for you, my dear neighbor, please know that, even though I cannot occupy the hurting spaces in your heart and your head, you are not alone, for there are many of us who have or are currently traversing similar roads. Please honor yourself, your hurt, and your family by taking care of you. Be as open and honest as you can be about why you’re staying, what you want, and what you are hoping for.

      Thank you for sharing with me, Jennifer. Sending love, light, and healing energy to your and your precious family,
      ~AE

  7. Hi, I am glad to have found this site. I found out 5 days ago that my husband of 16 years (we’ve been together for 22 years) has continued an affair he promised me he had stopped.
    I found out the first time 6 months ago, we went through a horrible period but both decided to work on our relationship and stayed together. Over the last few months things (in my opinion) have been good, we’ve been close, had fun, “got our spark back” and sexually close also.
    I discovered he has continued to meet her for short periods, but often in contact by phone. He initially denied this, in fact made me feel guilty for not trusting him, but has since admitted it. He doesn’t know why he done it, “felt sorry for her” but is truly sorry and is begging for another chance.
    I don’t know what to do- can I ever believe anything he says again?? Despite everything I love him deeply though hate what he has done. I feel like he has treated me like a fool!!
    We have 4 young kids who adore their dad and I want to keep their young lives as stable as possible.
    Would I be foolish to even contemplate trying again. I don’t feel I can talk to my friends or family, they were involved first time round and wouldn’t support me taking him back after a second time.
    Any thoughts, help or advice would be much appreciated, yours, Heartbroken.

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      Author

      Dear Heartbroken,
      I am so sorry for this recent loss but am happy you are seeking what you need to take care of you and that you are willing to reach out to others for help.

      What I can tell you without a doubt is that his continued affair isn’t about you. Not about anything you did or didn’t do. Not about the way you look or don’t look. It’s not about your sex life or lack thereof…not about any of your quirks or [insert your whatever.] It is all about him, his fears, his demons, and his insecurities…

      The first thing I might encourage you to do is to reach out to professionals who are equipped and trained in relationships. Often times we try to “work” on our relationships on our own and having an outsider’s view and an expert to help spot trouble areas can be so much more valuable and efficient. Sometimes partners (men and women) will assume that their spouse/partner “won’t see a shrink/therapist/counselor,” but when I ask if they have asked, most of the time the reply is ‘no.’ So, if you haven’t already asked, ASK. Get someone else involved. It is also possible that one or both of you might additionally benefit from individual counseling as you navigate through the changes that you are each about to undergo, whether it be together or apart.

      Every person’s situation is different, but I know in my case, my husband and I blamed his first affair on all of the stresses in our life…our child’s death, miscarriages, family differences, raising a young family, and trying to build a new family business in the midst of all this. We went to counseling, working under that assumption and made great gains in communication and understanding one another’s “point of view.” We had been best friends before we married and our lives had returned to that place of comfort, ease, and joy, when I was blindsided by the second affair.

      Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Know how I said it has nothing to do with you? His affair doesn’t, but what I eventually realized was that I bore some “culpability” in the conflicts that led him to make the choices he did. That doesn’t mean I was in any way responsible, it just means that certain behaviors I had were unknowingly contributing to his insecurities and doubts. Communication is super hard for him, so he wasn’t letting me know, at least not in ways that appeared as communication to me. It’s that old adage “It takes two…” I hope all that makes sense. Just as it takes two to dance, to fight, to make-up, it takes two to choose to stay in the marriage…to make it work.

      After his second affair, we had to begin isolating those deeper personality traits, needs, wants, and desires and really being breaking them down. It is a LONG work in progress and rebuilding the trust is equally long (that trust applies to yourself, to him, and to others.) We still have days when we’re both tired and rundown and we stumble, but I can tell you that the time spent has been so worth it. What you have to decide for yourself, though, is how much this relationship means to you and WHAT it represents to you. Really understand WHY you want to stay and be honest about that. If you’re like most people, there are a multitude of reasons why you want to stay and others for why you might want to end this marriage.

      I can also recommend a program called The Third Option. We found them a few years ago. For those in Upstate NY, they have an in-person program, but for those who can’t do that, they have a DVD series that you and your spouse can watch together (or independently.) They ask you to really look at certain aspects of your personality, and my husband and I found discussing each of our personal responses to be equally beneficial. Being able to look at our strengths and weaknesses without judgment is key to this sort of success.

      Please know that you are not a fool. My guess is you are someone who is compassionate, forgiving, loyal, and dedicated, which are all valuable qualities. As best as you can, try to stay away from worrying about how others will perceive you and focus on what you want and NEED for yourself, for in the end, that is all that really matters.

      There are so many moving pieces to this situation, Neighbor…try to break them down one by one… Wishing you strength…sending you love and light and the knowledge that you do have supportive people you can reach out to. Here if you need me. <3

  8. On May 11, 2018 I discovered my spouse had been looking at things inappropriate on the internet for someone who was married but always spent time with her best friend. Her and her friend were on a trip when I found all of these lesbian searches, in love with my friend searches etc. I confronted her via text message and she said it was nothing and that she loved me and wanted to be with me. We texted for hours. The following day she came home and told me of the sexual/emotional affair she had with her friend. She gave me details, made promises of us, deleted social media, said she wouldn’t talk to her at work since they weren’t in the same department etc. I believed her, for my tank was full of love, trust and I thought I could survive.
    Later in the evening we talked more and even had sex. I knew all all was well. We had some bumps and bruise s over the next six weeks but she was open, though it was like pulling teeth, and sex was great, we talked more than ever, we work up and showered together almost everyday (just talking). We went on dates, kids just became old enough to to stay home. I felt I bared some responsibility as I had gave her away to her friend in the name of being tired, stresses and always seeming to have to work. I worked really hard during these six weeks. Even scheduled marriage counseling for week seven after learning of the affair.
    Towards the middle of week six, in the spirit of being honest with each other like we had been being, I asked her if I could do a search of her phone using an investigative software, she immediately agreed. Deep inside there was this little voice telling me something wasn’t something right with her. We had completed a time line of the affair for our counseling session the following week and some thing’s still didn’t add up and she revealed new things of the affair or would restate them differently.

    We started to connect her phone to the PC. I asked her if she had anything she wanted to tell me so I wouldn’t be surprised. She started talking. The affair never ended. She reloaded Snapchat immediately after we had talked on May 12 to check on her girlfriend, after she had just called her and told her to never talk to her again. She received flowers from her but told me that it was from her teacher assistant. She told me she didn’t very see her but was getting daily visits. She told me she had a different helper during some testing but ended up being her girlfriend. Told me her girl friend wasn’t going to be a dance she was responsible for but she was there and afterwards they did it again. Later that same evening she was intimate with me. She started to tell me of all the stuff she had told me………..

    I have broken and devestated. She says she in now choosing me and it is over. She has done many of the things she did last time, I am skeptical. I don’t believe she is well. She has lost a good amount of weight and one of her dear friends suggested maybe she is having a chemical imbalance…. She has scheduled an appointment with a personal counselor the day prior to our marriage counseling session on week 7. I hope she is sincere this time. In sickness and health….

    I can’t believe her now. I know it isn’t my issue as I was a husband on steroids the past 6 weeks. I have told her that if she is serious I will try but there are no guarantees. I am praying and crying and am past broken. This is hard. I have had several folks that we have both confided in they have told us, “well at least it was a girl.”. I am not sure what they mean but that is what scares me the most. Girls know what girls need and desire, guys don’t always pick up on it. I would have rather seen a one night stand.

    We have kids and they see me breaking down after. I am scared for me and for them. We have been through prefect family by most accounts.

    Thanks for your article.

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      Author

      Dear Neighbor Lost,

      I am sorry for these marital hurdles, challenges, and for the losses you are experiencing as a result of them. That said, I am happy that you are seeking what you need in these moments of feeling broken. Please know that your children are resilient and you are showing them what it means to be HUMAN when you are tired and crying. Though some men are raised that being vulnerable or shedding a tear is not manly, the truth couldn’t be any further away. As people, we have emotions and expressing those emotions in healthy ways is how we honor our five facets.

      It will be hard to believe your wife, for sure. As you navigate rebuilding trust, please give yourself permission to grieve, carry on good communication with her, lean on your support team when you are feeling unsure, and know that as crazy as your thoughts and emotions may feel at times, your confusion, distrust, sadness, anger, stress, and fear are all “normal”/common responses to this sort of significant loss.

      Regarding other people telling you, “Well at least it was a girl,” please disregard this as best as you can. Unhelpful as this sort of statement is, it is likely coming from people who are trying to show empathy by imagining how they would feel and or process this type of loss. These sort of statements may work for some people, but for the vast majority they are not. Feel free to speak your truth; one offering is “Thank you for your support, however, the person’s gender has no bearing on what I am going through.”

      Sending you understanding, compassion, kindness, and the knowledge that you CAN work through this. Here if you need me, Neighbor.

  9. I’m glad I found this site as well. I’ve been married to my husband for almost 20 years now. 6 years ago he had an 18-month affair with an ex-girlfriend. Our marriage wasn’t perfect and we did have issues. After I discovered the affair he ended it and we agreed to work on our marriage. I have to admit that it was probably the best thing that ever happened to us. Our marriage became much stronger and we were able to recapture our love and joy for one and other.

    This past year he started a new job which has turned out to be very stressful. Our sex life became non-existent and he contributed it to being tired and stressed. He also started smoking again after 9 years of quitting. Besides that I had no reason to suspect anything. Then one day he broken down and admitted to having an affair with someone at work for the past few months. Needless to say I was in shock, I didn’t see that one coming. He said that there’s nothing I’ve done wrong or that he’s unhappy with our marriage. He says that she would compliment him a lot which fed into his ego (he’s approach 50 and found it very flattering). One thing led to another and the affair started, he even exchanged I love you’s with her. He says he’s ashamed of what he’s done and has a lot of remorse. He doesn’t want our marriage to end.

    If our marriage was so strong then how the heck did this happen. Even though he’s trying to reassure me that he still loves me and can’t see himself growing old with anyone else I’m finding myself very depressed and crying a lot. I do love my husband but I’m not sure I can ever rebuild the trust that we fought so hard to get back the last time. The saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” keeps repeating in my head. I’m really not sure where we’ll end up. I’m afraid I won’t be able to recapture the joy of our marriage. Any advise you have would be greatly appreciate.

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      Author

      Dear Neighbor, Cathy,

      Please know this is far more common than you might think. What sometimes happens after a first affair is that we rationalize the “Whys…” We say things like “It happened because…” and when two people love each other and want to make it work, that rationalization will work for a while, and then the roots of the real issues will resurface. Outside of disorders and addictive behaviors, often times, it is an underlying insecurity or fear that will lead a person to an affair. As you said, your husband admitted this new person was feeding his ego…or his insecurities…maybe it is fear of getting older and losing his identity/youth/charm/vitality or maybe he is a Fixer/Saver/White Night and she had issues. That is what happened in my relationship. I was a sort of damsel in distress when my husband and I met. We were experiencing all sorts of grief after the death of our son, outside interference in our marriage, raising a young family, and managing a start-up company. We were grieving differently and ultimately I was, even in my hot mess state, taking care of myself. His first affair was with my best friend, who was also having marital trouble and who was very free with her flirtations toward him, which quickly turned into her depending on him for support. Those two things, the feeding of the ego and the need of a white knight were a lethal combination. After he chose to stay in the marriage, seven years later, when our marriage was the strongest it had ever been, and I was the strongest I’d ever been, a new damsel came into the picture… It was then we knew it wasn’t about any of the stresses, but about his own insecurities… He had to address them and we had to figure out how our interpersonal dynamics contributed to it… NOT that it in any way CAUSED him to have an affair, but to understand what might be adding/feeding his insecurities. This work was hard and long but, in the end, we are both stronger for the efforts and our marriage has become better in new ways.

      As you go through this, please know that you CAN get through this…you will be able to figure out what you want for your future and to make it happen. I am here if you need me, Neighbor. Sending virtual hugs, light, and a shoulder to lean on…

  10. I’m not sure if this is still a place to post your story and hope for a response and a sign of hope…. I have been married to my wife for 8 years (2011) and have we have been partners for 12. Two years ago after having some “gut feeling” and some social media discoveries that felt unusual I began investigating everything I could which lead me to emails. Emails leading back to 2012 the year after we were married. The emails were very detail regarding there relationship, sexual encounters and there hope for the future. They were also emails of arguing, break ups and threats of her affair being exposed to me. I confronted her that night with partial information giving her opportunities to be truthful with everything and I received back partial truths or information each time I would give her more information that I actually knew until finally landing in a spot where I felt we were at ground zero with everything on the table. Every question I asked I felt she was being truthful and I asked really detailed questions that I felt I needed to know. She told me how it first happened, how they would see each other, the locations they had sex (to include in our home) and anything else I asked. At this point to say my heart and soul were completely crushed would be an understatement. I was so broken I could barely function however, I dug deep to find something in me to still give our kids. Unsure of what to do and how to move forward I became obsessed with wanting to learn what causes affairs, what was my role in my wife wanting to be with another man, what was it I wasn’t doing or couldn’t give her, what are the chances of future affairs and is there hope for a future with my wife. I read books, researched online sites such as this, ordered kits that came with more information regarding affairs and other material on general ways to improve your marriage. We also made the decision to go to counseling. The format we decided would be most helpful was counseling together in the beginning then alternate weeks of seeing our therapist individually as well to help guide us and share in our couples sessions. The words she used frequently was she wanted to understand “the why” she did what she did. We had a great marriage so I thought. We enjoyed each other’s company, we loved to travel and explore, we loved discovering new food locations to enjoy and revisiting our favs we went to a lot of our kids sporting events together although spit at times due to multiple events at the same time. We would always find it odd that most of the other married couples would not be together during those events. The men would hangout together the women together and there we were holding hands smiling and laughing wondering how it gets to the point of couples not enjoying each other’s company and what we felt they looked miserable together. It really felt if we were on to something and really had a special connection and love. But it wasn’t perfect. We certainly had our challenges as well. Most coming from blended family issues as well as outside side issues when it comes to dealing with ex wives / husbands and sharing / raising young children. But all of that said I felt like I had found the one and the stores she told me about when she first saw me, our first dates, vacations, etc I felt we had a strong connection which gave me trust and comfort like I have never felt. It was a true love story I thought. One day during the recovery phase she sent me a podcast and simply said I don’t deserve you I never have I don’t deserve our family or happiness. But if you could listen to this for me and think about it that would me a lot. I sat there for the next hour in my car listening. What I heard gave me a lot of hope. My research, the remorse I though I saw on her face, her own brokenness, the words she was saying to me, the encouraging words over and over that it had nothing to do with me that I had given her more that she had ever though she could receive in a marriage and partnership her disgust with her breaking me and letting our family down. She proclaimed she wanted to fix her brokenness and if given another opportunity she would use the rest of her days mending my broken and ensuring I had confidence in myself again and us. Those were meaningful words that stopped some of my overwhelming pain and made my heart feel a little better and I felt promise.
    Through the therapy a lot of “the why” came up and was explored and discussed. Most of it regarding childhood issues with not feeling love from her parents at times specifically he mother, brief encounters with sexual abuse from an extended family member at a young age and then again when babysitting at the age of 16. The first time at a young age was never communicated to anyone and the last time she didn’t get the support from her mother when she told her what had happened. All of this gave me some level of understanding to her pain and some of her feelings of not being good enough and the shame she was carrying around. I had a similar family back ground and issues however without the sexual abuse. But certainly other types of abuse and always the feeling of not being good enough and the shame associated with that. I felt if we were connecting on a different level and creating a foundation for rebuilding trust, love, our marriage and family. It’s something to note that we did not tell our kids. I did not tell our friends, my friends or our family. However she did tell some of her friends which I understood at the time I felt it gave her other resources to talk to should she need to lean on someone. During this time we also decided to get another gym membership and begin working out together. If we were going to rebuild our lives we felt this would just be one more thing we would connect on and rebuild our bodies as well. The first day at the gym we introduced ourselves to one of the girl trainers (a friend of my wife’s friend) and my wive who prior to this worked out with an older lady that was a personal trainer wanted to again do personal training to help push her to achieve the goals she had set for herself. The only difference was this trainer identifies as a lesbian. We all hit it off and trained together and my wife trained solo with her as well. She quickly became our friend and was invited into our circle and our home. This was all occurring as we were still going through our therapy. This person quickly became part of our family for lack of a better term. In fact her and I were really good friends as well. During this friendship we learned she was adopted and that adopted family sexually abused her for years. She communicated they were extremely wealthy and she had a hard time escaping but she did. This emotionally played on both my wife and I making us feel as if we were the only family and friends she had. She quickly became deeply rooted in our lives and family. When she would come over (daily, staying over in a spare room frequency) my wife would feel a little distant to me. She wouldn’t sit next to me at times, she would kiss me (May be normal for some but we liked to show our affection to each other) and she would treat me just a little different. When I confronted her on this she said that wasn’t the case and though I was being a little weird about it. I chalked it up to perhaps I am being jealous and overthinking. And the fact it was another women I felt it was a stretch to begin with but I had to ask the question. One evening we were all together and with friends hanging out drinking some and my wife that drinks very little or not at all was going to take the trainer home due to she had been drinking a lot. When she returned she told me and my nephew that the trainer had come onto her while driving and tried to touch her and said a lot of things. She was completely mortified she said. We couldn’t believe it. My wife has a strong personality and we felt “wow” that would be the last thing another women would want to do to her. She told me she could no longer be her friend and would be talking to her the next day. We talked again and decided to chalk it up to heavy drinking and moved on. After a shot period of time we she told us her step father had pasted and he was going to be the beneficiary of millions of dollars. This really didn’t change the relationship however it did change it with my wife. They were suddenly going to go into business together, they wanted us all to by a large estate and live together and take care of our mortgage and any debit we had. Hard to believe, I was not really believing the entire story and tried researching but could not find anything which made me more curious. Money was then delay. And delayed again and again for months. At one point I even loaded her a sizable loan with the promise of repayment with plenty of interest. She want training any longer and spent most of her summer days at our home walking the dogs as needed and relaxing at our pool. It all made since she was just waiting for her pay day. Weeks and months when by with new money delay stories frequently. My wive became very bitter and was verbally mean to her calling her a liar and a long list of other stuff. The trainer and I at this point had become better friends hanging out together and she would frequently ask how she could be a better friend to my wife and how my wife was treating her and what my secret was for a good marriage. All strange questions kind of but I would see how she would treat her and I would basically tell her to stand up for herself or no longer be her friend. Fast forward a few more months and there friendship was hanging on by a thread. The only thread I believe was the hope of money, the business and investments they discussed. But the trainer was no longer a staple at our home beginning December 2018. What had stared in May 2017 was all but over however my wife continued to check in with her on the money and the delays. I knew it was all lies at this point and my wife agreed except she stated the money is really but the rest were lies. A family friend searched and found a person with the name of the dad and the same last name in the east coast state she was from and called and the man were were told was dead was ALIVE! My wife called the parents told them the stores and they communicated this wasn’t the first time she had done this and we needed to be careful around her and don’t tell her we talked to them. It was finally all over. My wife felt emotionally empty she said due to all of the time she had spent trying to help her brokenness. She she shut her out for good deleting everything. The trainer still would not give up on “the friendship”. She continued to text and my wife would share them and her responses to them. She tried reaching out to me our family and a few friends as well but did not get responses. This last week she sent me a nude photos of my wife, photos of them kissing and doing sexual things as well as graphic texts threads stating I am sorry but you need to know who you are married to. She also said it started before my wife and I even began therapy. She gave me details of all the locations in our home. Where I was at when they were together and many details. I had shared a lot of my feelings of the other affair as well so she knew a lot. She new my struggle, brokenness and my hope for a better marriage.
    When I confronted my wife she admitted to it. She said her original issues and the pain and brokenness she caused me she could barely live with which made the affair something that would briefly for that moment feel as if she was enough for someone only to hate herself even more after. She said she had become what she hated most about her mom. BUT continued with the affair in my home mostly from May 2017 to December 2018, a year and a half. She tells me from From the last 5 months she has felt the best about who she is inside and has given me her heart and soul and it has been real. I have noticed at times some what I felt appeared to be depression however when asked she said it was simply monthly girl stuff. I do feel since the first affair we have been really good together with the exceptions of my internal doubt and questioning at times which I’m sure she could sense. Specifically for the last 6 months has been a really good chapter in our marriage and I could feel the dedication she often reminds me of felt real.
    Yesterday she found a therapist that specialize in abuse, trama and affairs.
    Day one I was walking. Day 5 I don’t know what I am doing I am lost and broken. I am writing this in hopes of hearing some sort of direction and hope.
    Thank you

    1. Post
      Author

      Dear Lost,

      I am so sorry for the loss of trust in your marriage, for the fear you might be experiencing, and the heartache that you now face, again. I’m not going to lie to you; chances are it will be a difficult road as your grief responses ebb and flow and twist and turn. That said, I firmly believe that YOU CAN DO THIS. You have the ability and access to the resources to help you process your grief and move through the healing, too.

      As you may know, every situation is so unique, even in the face of many similarities. The fact that your wife has sought out another counselor is a good sign, for it indicates that she wants to make a change…how that unfolds will only prevail itself in time.

      I have a few thoughts I’d like to share; please use those that resonate with you as a starting point to do your own reflection and research.

      One of the first things I can share is that despite an overwhelming “need/desire/impulse/curiosity” to know every detail, all of that information may ultimately be more of a burden. As hard as it is to believe, knowing all of the “sordid” details of when/where/how could actually complicate and prolong your suffering. If this resonates with you, try to focus on the now and forward, rather than on those past details that you cannot undo.

      You don’t mention the ages of your children, but what I can tell you is that the walls have ears. Children seem to be more in-tune and hear more than you might think. Though I thought my husband and I were being careful not to argue about the affairs or talk about them in their presence, I found out many years later that they did know. We had sat them down at the time of the 2nd affair (they were too young during the first affair at 5 1/2, 3 1/2, newborn ages) to tell them that Mommy and Daddy were having a difficult time and to assure them that our situation had nothing to do with them, that we both loved them, and wanted what was best for them. We asked them to honor our requests for privacy and to let us know if they had questions, to which we would answer as honestly and openly as we felt able to.

      Your discussion about your marriage feeling perfect so resonates with me; my husband and I were holding hands going into the grocery store and everywhere we went; I honestly would sit with my girlfriends as they lamented about their husbands and think “I don’t have anything to contribute because it would feel like I was gloating… Your wife is absolutely right: Her affair had absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with her insecurities. That said, you, too are right in that there may be ways you were interacting and reacting that contributed to that–THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE TO BLAME. Learning the dance you two created will be helpful and hopefully the new counselor can help flesh some of that out. A big part of what happened with my husband was that he was your typical “White Knight,” who saw damsels in distress, while his own marriage felt tense, out of balance, and he didn’t feel “needed/wanted” so he acted on trying to find that sense of worthiness. Secondly, it was discovered some years after the second affair, that I had been unknowingly acting in ways that made him feel as if he were being told what to do or “parented.” Having come from a strong family where he felt he had little choice growing up, and then little choice as an adult…

      Those realizations gave me insight and choices I could make about what I wanted moving forward. And one thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to be “parenting” him, too. lol Again, it wasn’t easy, and we are still working on adjusting both our behaviors as we navigate various situations and transitions…

      There are a few resources I can share that resonated with us and with others. Again, take what you find potentially and shelve the rest.
      * There is a program called “The Third Option.” Though it is run through a ministry, it is not centered on religion. The program is available in person or they have a DVD series. We watched a number of the segments and found them to be helpful in helping each of us reflect on our own behaviors and to look at how they impact the union.
      * Another modality is a body of work that I was recently introduced to. It’s called The Gottman Method and was developed by Dr. John Gottman. It’s an extensive program based on decades of research and where many other programs focus mostly on communication, he says that communication is actually in the middle range of the issues. He has a model called “The Sound Relationship House” and begins with what is at the foundation of a strong marriage (knowing each other’s world (dislikes and likes, etc…), and then moves up through the house with 7 different traits that create that sound relationship. This model may also be worth exploring (for both you and your wife…provided her counselor is open to it.)

      As you move into Day 6 and beyond, please remember to treat yourself with kindness, to reflect on what you want and if it would benefit you to see a counselor, too, and to recognize that your vastly swinging range of emotions and energy levels is common following any significant life loss event. Though nothing about your situation is-nor ever will be okay-YOU can and will be okay in the face of your wife’s affairs. That, too, will unfold as it unfolds… (frustrating as it is that we can’t just snap our fingers and be transported to the other side of our suffering…

      I hope something in these words brought you some modicum of hope, Neighbor… I’m here if you need me…

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