My final Blog Post

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

George Orwell 

It has been over four years since I was catapulted into this horrendous world of adultery. A world in which lies and distortions of the truth are the order of the day, requisites for the act itself.  Previous to this I had experienced a year of marital discord which had me feeling lost and alone and oscillating between doubt and hope for our future together.  The dirty secret of adultery was slowly and hideously poisoning us, seeping into an open wound in our relationship that I didn’t even know we had.  However, I have suffered more in the aftermath than during the crisis.  The intense trauma created by the revelation has been lived through on a daily basis and continues to haunt my history even now, but I am here to tell you that I HAVE SURVIVED, and I have survived and remained in my marriage.

Some would mock my confession. For example, Tracy Schorn better known as the blogger Chumplady is of the opinion that  “Reconciliation is fine if you unicorn-2just want to limp along and endure. But I’m not convinced that anyone ever really gets over it when they stay married to a cheater.  Seems like an endless buffet of shit sandwiches” Theoretically she says that she thinks it is possible, just not probable.  My reconciliation is likened to a unicorn – a mythical creature that I want to believe in, but is rarely sighted.

 

Whilst I agree with many of her opinions with regard to adultery and understand her positioning on the issue of leaving rather than staying, I don’t agree with her sentiment with regard to reconciliation. Whilst I would not propose that anyone remain with a spouse who is not prepared to change I do believe in the concept of human growth and personal transformation.  However, it requires more than hope; it requires a realistic perception of what change requires and  we cannot force someone to change.

 

“When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.”

Andy Warhol

 

When a marriage experiences the rupture of the revelation of adultery you don’t get to choose what remains. It’s possible that nothing will remain.  For me, the revelation was like an explosion that forced me into a process that I had no comprehension of.  I likened it to navigating a ship through a storm. The ship that became my marriage has been inrescue stormy waters for a long time, it has been in hurricanes and whirlwinds and has been lacerated on the rocks.  However, eventually it slowed to a halt and arrived somewhere else.  What I never suspected was that it might be somewhere better than where we started. Naturally, the furniture did not remain as it was.  Some was destroyed, some moved but importantly, the ship did not sink.  Surviving betrayal changed everything because it invalidated all my previous assumptions and it required hard work in order to reinvent ourselves as a couple again. For me, the greatest outcome of the survival has been the truths that I have learned about myself.

 

This blog has been an account of my independent exploration and the way I have navigated myself through the storm. I have come at the problem from up, down, sideways and inside out determined to either get around it or prove conclusively that I’m beaten. I have tried to write myself into clarity or acceptance or comprehension. I feel I have accomplished much of this and have therefore decided to stop writing any further posts. This is my last post, my closure on the narrative of my experience of adultery.  Not that the adultery has disappeared from my life and not that I have any unrealistic hopes for the future of our marriage but that I have exhausted all the avenues of enquiry on this topic that I wish to pursue.  Adultery has been an absolute eye opener for me; not just for my husband and I but in understanding the world of relationships, commitment and sexuality in general.

 

There has also been a very interesting but unintended consequence of writing this blog, and that is the wonderful support that has been offered by readers of my posts. Many of them are bloggers themselves going through their own turmoil but finding the time to comment and offer comfort.  Not feeling completely on my own in facing the tsunami of emotions has been a life affirming experience. Knowing I had friends, albeit complete strangers, going through similar agonies helped my sanity enormously.  I thank you all.

 

The only negative responses I have had have been delivered by readers who are angry at me for holding the Other Woman to account for her own choices. Whatever they have said has not changed my mind but no doubt they will continue to hurl abusive comments at me.  It’s funny but it’s the posts with titles like “Why I want the OW to Suffer” that generate the most traffic on my site.

 

What I am left with at this juncture in my narrative is a marriage that is unrecognisable to the one that existed before. The past four years have involved us creating a raft of new experiences and a redefined understanding of marriage based upon connection and respect.  We both have to take risks in this new relationship: I have to risk that he has changed and that he will not be unfaithful again; he has to risk that I might never get fully over it or reach any stage of forgiveness.  Nevertheless, he is truly repentant and continues to make Herculean efforts to demonstrate his change in attitude towards infidelity.  To be honest, it is his efforts that proved to be the glue to hold us together over the first three years.

 

What I am also left with is a sense of outrage at the social dishonesty that presents adultery as a victimless experience. The true picture of adultery is obscured by the ideology of self, consumerism and the hyper sexual culture that appears to have developed.  Citing Chumplady again, “Cheaters get all the glory.  When infidelity is portrayed in (popular culture) cheaters are the tortured protagonists, sexy taboo breakers compelled by forces greater than themselves to love the forbidden other. Tragic affairs are the stuff of pathos and romance. Oh, the crushing indecision, being torn between two lovers, thwarted by the cruel, cruel forces of monogamy.  Poor cheaters.  All they seek is happiness.  And can you fault happiness?”

What goes hidden is the betrayed spouse’s deep cutting hurts of abuse, loss of trust, and loss of personal safety. All adultery demands perfidy.  An incredible amount of deceit, thousands of lies, criss-crossing in an attempt to deny the truth to the one person entitled to know the truth.  It is a lie to say that adultery is romance, in fact the biggest lie that we live with today is the fantasy of romance.  As James Hollis, the Jungian analyst states “This fantasy is in all of us and is the most virulent ideology of the modern world.” The fantasy of ‘love’ as understood in its romantic context of the ‘magical other’ can be actually seen to promote infidelity by framing the act of adultery as simply seeking a new or better other, especially for the spouse who is lacking in resolve to look within and to take responsibility for meeting more of his or her own needs.  It also stops us from understanding the meaning of marriage and long term commitment where loving the other presents a quite different and much more demanding agenda.

 

I thought I might make my last post a kind of summing up of the issues that have evolved for me over the last few years and which have provided a wider lens with which to look at my own unique experience of marriage, adultery and survival.

 

Marriage

 Joseph Campbell, the depth psychologist said “I think one of the problems in marriage is that people don’t realise what it is. They think it’s a long love affair and it isn’t.” Perhaps if more was understood about marriage perhaps the Disneyesque romantic myths might be replaced with a more pragmatic framework for a long term relationship.

 

“Marriage is the most mysterious covenant in the universe. I’m convinced that no two are alike. More than that, I’m convinced that no marriage is like it was just the day before. Time is the significant dimension – even more significant than love.  You can’t ask a person what his marriage is like because it will be a different marriage tomorrow.”

Anita Shreve

 

What happens in a marriage can never be understood by anyone but the people inside it. This is why any advice given needs to be cautiously received. Every marriage, even so called ‘good marriages’ have their times of strain and stress and this needs to be recognised and acknowledged.  Occasionally I read about marriage and monogamy and it is presented as if when the two are combined it is a prison that reduces people’s joy in life. Monogamy equals monotony.  Nobody presents this view as polemically as Laura Kipnis in her book Against Love.  Problematically for me, she works from an assumption that we have an agreed idea about what love is.   She asks when did sex get so boring and when did it turn into this thing that we had to work on?  No sense of personal responsibility or delayed gratification fits into her account of love.  Adultery for Kipnis is “what the test tube is to science: a container for experiments”. This must include experimenting with lying and cheating and betraying trust?

 

She provides a list of what you can’t do in marriage, such as leave the house without saying where you are going or what time you’ll return. You can’t go to parties on your own and can’t make plans without consulting the other.  All of her points are put over in a negative fashion.  However it is possible to turn them around.  How many of us like to have someone who knows where we are and when we will be back.  It might just be care, concern or interest – not a gulag restriction.  How about solicitude? Equally, who really wants to go to parties on their own?  Do we mind consulting others with whom we live?  Quite frankly, what this sounds like is someone who wants to live on their own.  Kipnis suggests that “coupled life is a barren landscape or a tense battleground or a nightmarish repetition, characterised variously by tedium, fighting, silence, or unreasonable insatiable demands.” In this context adultery becomes “the municipal Dumpster for coupled life’s toxic waste of strife and unhappiness”.

 

But marriage does not need to be viewed in this negative way. Marriage and the opportunities for us to learn about ourselves in the context of relating to another in a committed and long term relationship can offer an equal challenge to grow and develop. Monogamy, the so-called enemy of individual freedom is not a law of nature, it is a desire, a principle, a cultural ideal.  We have these rules and ethical injunctions to curb impulses that many or all people have.  As humans we regularly rise above our biological imperatives.

 

There is no commitment that does not bring with it its own tensions, ambivalences and demand for sacrifice. Marriage is a measure of commitment to working things through, to not bolting at the first discord. Maybe long term relationships have a tendency to disappoint because too much is asked of them. David Blankenhorn founder and president of the Institute for American Values, suggests that “people today go into marriage expecting to a far greater degree to have their own needs met. Instead of giving to the marriage, they want much more from the marriage.  And often what they want is unrealistic.”  Each marriage has the right to ask fidelity, loyalty to the task of marriage and the willingness to work at resolutions.  We rarely see promotion of personal responsibility (making the right choice against all impulses, against all desire to make that higher choice and face the sacrifice that comes with it) yet this is what a long term successful commitment will need to demand.  Stop presenting the frilly meringue dress infested image of marriage where the couple walk off into the horizon to live happily ever after in a continuous loop of a love affair.  Life will get in the way!

 

However, let’s not ignore our human desire for a meaningful relationship. The psychologist Janet Reibstein notes, “there is such ignorance about the insatiable, ongoing, time honoured, and even animal need to be in a happy, secure, erotic and deepening union with one other person… The stories of great relationships are not being heard above the din of reports of the failed ones.”

 

Paul Vitz in his book Psychology as religion; the cult of self-worship, discusses the rise of a selfist psychology which has a tendency to give a green light to any self-determined goal. “There is an assumption of the goodness of the self and limited consideration, if any, to the problem that self-expression can lead to exploitation, narcissism or sadism”.  Infidelity is a very selfish expression and leads to a great deal of pain and misery, always for the betrayed spouse and usually for the betrayer themselves as well as the other, third person in the act.

 

Every marriage has a story that could end in divorce; but it does not have to be because of adultery. I do not think that one should leave a marriage lightly. There is the possibility, if both spouses desire it, that the relationship can undergo the changes necessary for the renewal of a long habit-ridden relationship.

 

Adultery

 

I believe that society should care if we lie or cheat or harm others but if we continue to believe that adultery is only a problem for the married couple the larger picture of needing to better understand long term commitment is lost. I have noticed, upon closer inspection that as a society we have become inured to the concept of adultery. It all seems so ordinary until it happens to you.  I have puzzled over the whole situation in the years since D-day but the pieces never fit.

 

Unfortunately, once we find out the true horror of the experience, everything presses us toward a decision even the wrong decision just to be free of the anxiety that precedes any big step in life. Forced decision making is when we have no choice but to accept what has happened and to work with what exists. I’m not sure I made a final decision to stay until a good two years had passed.  It took this long to acclimatise myself to the new reality of both my husband and of myself.  I had always assumed I would leave him if he was unfaithful.

 

I realised I had limited control; I could not undo anything that had been done and I could not make sense of why he hurt me in this manner. However, after about two years I began to see a chance of creating something new.  Taken out of myself, my disorientated reactions were not what they would normally have been, but I have learned that you can do something you didn’t realise you were capable of doing.

 

However, I realise, understandably, that people new to the knowledge of their spouse’s adultery do not necessarily wish to hear this message of hope and personal growth manifesting itself only through hard work, painful reflection and lots of time in which to allow the healing to occur.  There will be the wish to have the old world and former assumptions reinstituted as quickly as possible.  We are desperate to hear ‘yes your marriage can be restored to its pristine assumptions’.  But this is just wishful thinking.  Patience is required and there has to be time for water to go under the proverbial bridge.  There is no silver bullet.  There has to be genuine remorse and acceptance of responsibility from the betrayer and behaviour demonstrated over time which mirrors these feelings.  And of course, there can be absolutely no further contact with the third person. There has to be a realisation in some instances that the spouse might not wish to be faithful but to enjoy their cake and to eat it too.  If you suspect this, then unless you have evidence otherwise, you are destined for a continued life of deceit and betrayal.

 

From what I can establish, it would seem that adultery reconstructs an alternative world with its own laws and culture. This alternative world is maintained by directing attention away from fearsome facts like betrayal of trust, lying and cheating, hurt and family devastation and repackaging the activity in an acceptable form. This in part explains why ‘friends’ are so complicit with the act.  Esther Perel proposes “that an affair (already she’s using language to deflect the sordid reality; ‘affair’ sounds so romantic doesn’t it) is an erotic experience not just about sex. It’s about desire, attention, reconnecting with parts of yourself. About longing and loss”.  In my opinion these are destructive illusions. What any adulterer needs to be told is ‘if you’re needs weren’t being met, you ought to have communicated them’.

 

Perel goes on to proclaim that people in happy marriages cheat and rather than it being something about lack of personal responsibility she suggests that it is marriage which is the imperfect arrangement. I remember feeling outraged when she presented the American discourse of adultery as framed around betrayal and trauma whereas the European attitude suggests more of an erotic experience.  What she is doing is using admonitions against moral values to deflect the betrayed spouse’s experience of adultery.  This uncoupling of moral concern from the reality of human suffering has caused tremendous harm to many betrayed spouses. Betrayal and trauma can never be an erotic experience for the betrayed.  The erotic experience belongs to the adulterer and his or her forbidden other.  I don’t think it possible to argue for the rightness of this activity just because of individual preference. For Perel, her view is that we need new negotiations around monogamy. Just what these negotiations might be remain to be seen.  The open marriage has always been an option but as Chumplady notes “ It’s one thing to have an open marriage. It’s quite another to have it thrust open you after the discovery of an affair. This ‘offer’ is not sexual sophistication; it’s an implied threat – let me have my cake or we’re through.  The cheater lays the blame on monogamy – that impossible condition that, oh hey, we all agreed to.”  Perel’s views go hand in hand with Dan Savage, the guy who believes that infidelity ‘saves’ marriages and considers those who reject the idea as ‘smug moralisers’.  Like Perel, he wants monogamy to be tinkered with – ‘monogamish’ is his new term.  Add Glen Greenwald who argues that infidelity is a private matter between the adulterer and his or her spouse and you have a good cross section of the adulterer champions.

 

Sexualised Culture

 

It has seemed to me that when relationships are discussed today there is an absence around theories of love. Is there any proper explanation about love’s weather patterns, low pressure systems, cold fronts, storms? How we might survive its tides and seasons? The understanding that love does not protect you from lust. From my own experience I have discovered that love is a feat exclusively for the strong of heart.  However, in place of the complexities of love there is an emphasis on sexual compatibility, changing roles and changing relationships.  Relationships in this context have a built in obsolescence.  Someone is going to have to be disposable in the end.  The power is placed in the hand of the individual who seeks to enjoy ever increasing sexual liberty.  Society is silent.  In fact it is problematic to articulate dissent.

 

Natasha Walker in her book ‘Living Dolls; the return of sexism’ notes “Any voices that have challenged our highly sexualised culture in recent times have generally come from the religious right, which means that liberals have become uneasy about joining them”. Infidelity in the light of individual sexual liberty is argued to be a positive aspect of relationships. “Journey from bourgeois marriage into freer sexual relationships, even if it was a journey fraught with sadness, was seen as progress”

 

Pornography reinforces the hallucination. It is difficult to understand why pornography should be defended in a way that other discriminatory depictions of women are not. The abuse of women in pornography is seen as just sex.  Viewers have difficulty in seeing it as violence.  Pornography distorts their perceptions.  Porn’s message is becoming the cultural norm but it constructs sexuality in a certain way and if you oppose this idea you are categorised.  Anti porn = anti sex;  Anti adultery = anti sex.  Steven Pinker suggests that contrary to conventional wisdom, sex is not a binding force but a divisive one.  Our sex drive can be dysfunctional, the relativity of pleasure pushing people to more and more extreme situations just to keep pleasure constant.

 

A general assumption is that the human impulses provided by biological evolution are right and optimal both individually and socially and that repressive or inhibitory moral traditions are wrong. But, morality is the invention of human intelligence constructed to ensure social cooperation in the face of our more natural, selfish desires.  Adultery is without any honesty.  It does not suggest that an individual wants to leave their current relationship instead it tries to lie beneath the veneer of commitment whilst at the same time betraying its every principle.  What do the champions of adultery suggest?  Should it be considered an acceptable principle for everyone?  I mean, you can’t have it acceptable for some and not others can you?  Reason tells us that we should resist inclination when we cannot endorse the same type of behaviour on the part of others in similar circumstances.  Thus we should not take food off another person’s plate unless we are happy to accept it as a principle for everyone. So really, if everyone is in agreement, do we actually need adultery?  We can just have sex with whomever our fancy chooses, whenever we feel a bit bored with our married partner.  It’s an acceptable principle.

 

Our highly sexualised culture is also compatible with the ideology of consumerism which is hostile to the discipline of obedience or the delaying of gratification.  It is clear that the concepts and values of selfism are not conducive to the formation and maintenance of permanent personal relationships or to values like duty, patience and self- sacrifice which maintain commitment. Does it not make sense that a society in which everyone seeks personal fulfilment might have a hard time holding together?

 

Women

 

womanInitially, when I was confronted with women conspiring against me and my marriage I was naively stunned. My need to believe that women can be more supportive than competitive blinded me to the reality which is not talked about. We’ve been taught to be secret competitors and we have to be aware of this secret competition.  Competition between women for a man is both a social and an emotional process for most women: social, because finding and keeping a man has been, historically, the most secure form of financial support for most women; emotional, because women have translated what has been an economic necessity into a psychological desire.

 

The most vitriolic comments to my blog posts come from women who have been or are Other Women. They are tormented by reconciliation after adultery in a way that I cannot comprehend.  At the same time, my blog has introduced me to many lovely women who have affirmed my trust in the possibility of a type of sisterhood. I am proud to have been in communication with women working towards the same goal as myself.  Their struggles to come to terms with the horrific reality of their marriage offer a heroic testimony to the power of female understanding.

Personal Growth

 

out-of-eggFor me, betrayal has stung me into enlargement. It could have equally led to diminishment but growth is wisdom and results in a decrease in bitterness.  I would not have thought that I’d have the stomach for more struggles in my sixth decade but following the earthquake that I experienced inside I have recognised a major shift in my consciousness and I am now entering a new stage in my life.  It is my intention and hope to travel through this part of my life with my husband but it does not have to include him.  Time will tell.  It’s not as frequent as I’d like, but I have times when I experience the calm after the storm and can offer a generosity that can yield gracefully and without bitterness.

 

Jungian understanding suggests that meaning makes a great many things endurable – perhaps everything and that meaningless inhibits fullness of life. I’m in agreement.

 

I have made a choice to remain with my husband. This is my freedom.  It is an important and critical choice that I make at this moment in my life.  Is it the right choice?  Only time will tell;  Jung offers advice.  Of each critical juncture of choice, one may usefully ask: “Does this path enlarge or diminish me?”  If my husband was not as remorseful as he is, if he could not demonstrate full commitment to me at all times then my choice would diminish me.  I could not accept another round of the miserable charade of adultery.  I am worth so much more than this and my husband has to agree fully.  As it is, my choice appears to have enlarged me and continues to do so.

 

“The invitation to meet oneself is seldom if ever solicited, it is rather brought on by outer or inner events that force one to question who one is and what values one holds. You have to choose growth or security – you cannot have both”.  I will never forget the adultery and I know that the scar will remain for the rest of my life but I am going forward.  I will never lower my expectations of him or of our relationship.  It is really hard work to stay and I suspect really hard work to leave but what is the alternate choice? Slip back into harbour, unpack our precious cargo and die.

 

I don’t look at my staying negatively. Instead I consider myself  daring.  I dared to stay because my wish to do so outweighed my  fear of doing it.  I have survived adultery by staying and I have become a different person in the process.  As James  Hollis remarks “In the face of painful, limiting blows suffered –the meaning of my life from this point on will be the degree to which I can express myself more fully in the face of this situation”  The fantasy of romantic love/lust does not have me in its grip.  That fantasy is for people who lack the resolve to look within themselves and take responsibility for meeting more of his or her own needs.  The much greater risk of truly loving the other presents a quite different agenda, a more demanding summons.

 

It was clear from my husband’s behaviour at the end of the adultery that he was terrified of losing me. “Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation” Khalil Gibran.  I regret that it had to come to this. But our love now has to be a conscious type of love, the type that has values embedded into it that are compatible with each.  Returning to Hollis “The ‘in love’ state, great narcotic as it is, numbs consciousness, retards growth and serves as a soporific to the soul.  Consciously loving another obliges risk, courage in the face of ambiguity and the strength of tolerance.  Whoever lacks these qualities will never truly have relationship.”

 

I see my husband very differently now and this has taken a while to become accustomed to. However, “When the myth fails, human love begins. Then we love a human being, not our dream but a human being with flaws.” Anais Nin

 

So I leave this blog to continue on the next part of my life journey. Whilst there are several blogs that can be located which deal with the experience of staying in a marriage post adultery, many, like mine, start and stop.  Should anyone reading this post be wanting a recommendation of which blog to follow I would unreservedly recommend Elle’s Blog entitled the Betrayed Wives Club.  It offers a wonderful soft place to land.

end-of-line

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26 thoughts on “My final Blog Post

  1. transformation

    I have said it before, and I stand by it: this blog is the most insightful I have found on the experience of adultery. I completely agree with all your observations posted here. I wish you peace & joy and continued personal growth in your future. I will miss this blog tremendously.

    Reply
  2. Jason Humphries

    I am a married man of 13 years with 2 young children. I found out 4 months ago (undeleted email – I snooped – gut feeling something very wrong for the last 3 years, I asked her directly, twice, if she was having an affair – denied both times of course) that my beloved Wife had been
    having an affair with a single male co-worker (older than me) for over 18 months that ended approximately a year ago. She says she loves me. I have never abused or cheated on her in any way. Although odd how my shouting (never physical) and anger after discovery is classed as abuse to her by both her and our counsellor……The affair, as a now sadly life long abuse of me, is currently given only scant regard. I earn a very decent wage and am a good provider, we have a lovely house, nice cars, nice holidays, big pensions and a comfortable retirement to look forward to. I thought we had a happy and stable marriage. All that I have worked for for 25 years is now under threat by betrayal conducted behind my back without me having a say. Our (not just my – we were a team) current and future life, and that of our lovely innocent children is now in considerable jeopardy. I have since learned that I probably represented the boring rut of middle age working life. Interestingly from the off she told the OM that she would never leave me, even though he wanted her to. I guess she greatly valued the safety, security and stability our marriage provided and of course she loved the family life aspect.

    We have started Relate couples counselling and it is proving useful in that she feels “safe” in front of another female counsellor to air her issues with me. So at least I am now getting her side of the story. In 2 sessions so far we have yet to move onto my issues with her…..Those that go should realise that Relate, as counselling in general highlighted elsewhere in this blog, tend to focus on what issues the betraying spouse has that caused them to have the affair. This somewhat ignores the huge elephant in the corner of the room in what effect and issues the affair has created for me, the faithful spouse. Interestingly, perhaps being married for a decent length of time and with the bond of children and considerable history together, it is the typically described female trait of betrayal of trust, emotion and the lies and deceit that actually hurt far more than the physical acts. And yes, I like everyone else had always stated that I would not tolerate any infidelity. But we say that not ever expecting it to happen to us, and when it does we beat ourselves up for somehow betraying ourselves when we choose to stay.

    As a man betrayal and adultery is a very lonely place. It seems 99% of blogs are written by those poor women who have been betrayed – there is very little help for men. This is paradoxical as many cheating married men are of course cheating with married women. She did the same as most men did that your readers will be familiar with: denied, evaded, minimized, lied by omitting, don’t remember etc etc but eventually came clean, but only when presented with undeniable evidence. I found out more details as I then dug deeper with her agonizingly drip feeding the truth – mainly out of fear for the marriage ending, some of it to protect me from hurt and of course some of it to protect her from the huge shame and guilt of me knowing fully what she did.

    The obvious conclusion many jump to is that husbands would feel great shame if others knew of their Wife’s infidelity. That i’ll admit is part of it, but only a small part. The main reason is that I still love my Wife unconditionally – I must do to still be fighting for our marriage. I would walk through hell for her, because I already have. Some will feel she does not deserve it but she always was an excellent mother (though many would argue how could she be viewed in that way now) and she is showing true remorse. I want to protect her honour. I want to protect her. I want to help mend her. Even though I know only she can mend herself. I guess that is why we all stay and try. “For better or worse”. I made a vow and although ultimately we may tragically split I’ll give my marriage every ounce of my strength to save it both for her, me and our wonderful children. If I did otherwise then I have no business being a husband or a father.

    To my fellow female spouses who have decided to stay and try (and the odd male in the shadows) I feel your torment and terrible pain. I puked, I cried myself to sleep numerous times, I lost 2 stone – all the usual stuff. Remember what you do is not from weakness, fear or naivety – it is from strength, moral integrity and honour. If you have children, fight for their future, keep them safe, ignore those who state they would be better off in a single parent family – no child ever is. Forgiveness will take a long time but try to have empathy and compassion, to yourself as well but be firm, my Wife is under no illusion another affair, including “just” emotionally, will result in instant separation and divorce because she will have voluntarily, knowing the damage her first affair caused, moved into another category – that of the serial cheater. Twice is not a mistake……

    Apologies for the story but I just wanted a male perspective to be known to those fighting for their marriage. If you genuinely think it is the right thing to do – then it is the right thing to do for you.

    Finally a big thank you to this blog and its author. She displays a rare combination of intellect, common sense, compassion and understanding. Read it. It is a valuable sounding board for those of us in need. I hope it remains available for many years. It has kept me sane, It has kept me from leaving and given me real strength, it has helped me get up each morning. It may well save my marriage and the future of two young children. For that and what she has endured she should be very proud.

    Reply
    1. Iris

      Jason,

      It must be very difficult to navigate this anguish as a betrayed husband. I used to read thread after thread about this on the forum Surviving Infidelity – there seem to be more men than women in ‘just found out’.

      What do you do with your anger when women are for very good reasons afraid of male anger? No, it isn’t abuse simply to express your anger (unless you’re threatening violence) but partly because of this understandable fear it’s going to be better to find another way to express your pain and sorrow. You could if you want to read Thich Nhat Hanh on anger, and on love. Read it together. Sometimes we don’t know how to approach each other. Personally I’m very sympathetic to your anger but I’d find it very hard to bear if it were aimed at me. It’s a very difficult process to REALLY take responsibility for one’s own behaviour and to LISTEN to the pain you’ve caused, which is why, I guess, so many reconciliations fail.

      Don’t put yourself through any more of those Relate sessions if they’re not helping. Certainly you shouldn’t be subjected to ‘what you did to make her cheat’ or any variations thereof although it sounds as if the counsellor may be aiming at getting your wife to examine her own conduct. However, what does it matter what issues she had with you and then what issues you have with her? No one can remember with any accuracy what happened x years ago, particularly after a significant trauma (which you have certainly suffered). What is happening NOW? What is she doing to help you? Do you have transparency? I had a very good experience with Relate individual help when I was really desperate, you can get lucky.

      Cheating is right down to the character of the cheater. If I were a betting woman I’d lay odds that your wife had poor boundaries, perhaps she’d never had a reason to think about protecting herself (and others) in this way, and was easily flattered. She didn’t know how fast things would get out of control. It’s an intoxicant. None of this helps you, of course. Wanting the lifestyle isn’t enough, she has work to do. As much as you love her, betrayal hurts so much that in a year or two EVEN if she does everything right it may be better for you to walk away. I’m getting on for four years afterwards, I’m still struggling. It’s hard to trust anyone again. So: not what’s wrong with my marriage or my husband or why was life so boring? But: why did I find it so easy to lie to and to betray someone I love? When did I decide this was OK? Many of these self-justifications were doubtless there some time before she had the affair. We all have little let-out clauses. We’re saturated, as MR says, with a ‘feel good’ culture.

      You know all this stuff but I’m repeating it so you know Jason you’re not alone.

      One more thing though: you contradict yourself when you say on the one hand your wife’s behaviour was very much like so many men’s behaviour but you also say: ‘it is the typically described female trait of betrayal of trust, emotion and the lies and deceit that actually hurt far more..’ If you take one thing away from this appalling experience it might be to examine the misogyny you’ve absorbed from our culture, which is still full of these myths. Betrayal makes us re-examine everything, anyway. It can be freeing.

      Reply
    2. Iris

      Jason – l’ve realised you may have meant ‘expressed by females’ and I hope you don’t feel insulted! Sorry about that.

      Reply
    3. secondchances685

      @jason humphries Your story is mine…”to a tee”. I literally could have written every word (maybe not as well)….and then added some more crap to really question why I choose over and over to stay. It is the right things for me to do…right now. Thank you for sharing the male perspective.You are so right. This blog kept me company and I will miss it dearly. I am happy for her and wish her only the best no matter what.

      Reply
  3. LPA Wife

    Your blog, your wit, understanding, clarity of mind and temperate handling of what is a difficult, painful and ugly issue of so many marriages has been such a help to me. Thank you for writing — but also thank you for ending your blog. It is refreshing to see that there is in fact an end to the headline story of adultery in a marriage.

    Best of luck to you and your husband and you continue to move forward in your relationship.

    Reply
  4. Iris

    Dear MR: this is a wonderful post. I can’t add anything. All I can say is that if I hadn’t been able to read this blog and all the other brave and candid blogs by the betrayed there would have been nowhere to go to escape the pain of betrayal. I feel part of a community which understands without me needing to explain. I hope everyone realises how much good they’re doing by sharing these very personal stories. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Jason

    Iris, All,

    Apologies, I meant that it is the view often purported by society that women (totally correctly in my view) find it is the betrayal of trust and emotion that hurts so bad – worse than the physical acts (although of course they very much sting). Most pop psychology sites state than men have far more issues with the sex itself – In my case it is the opposite. Don’t ever mean to be mysoginistic – I greatly admire and respect women. I am in the Armed Forces and frankly if the world was run by women it would be a much better place…. Just a normal man who tries his best for his family and yes, there were times when I perhaps should of invested more time and effort in our relationship. Trouble is she never actually sat me down and told me what her issues were. She says she implied them and I should have known – but like the majority of men, because it was never actually said to me loud and clear, I assumed everything was OK. Thing is, by and large, it was – we had wonderful family holidays, we ate out regularly. I was careful to have regular date nights at theatre / ballet / cinema / dinners which she enjoyed. I told her I loved her – every day. Careful to write text or call even when in some crap hole thousands of miles away. She has stated in counselling that she knew she was very loved and valued. Another factor which I consider important was the fact that we started dating when we were very young. I had had a couple of previous girlfriends and sexual relationships but I was her first and only – up until the affair. I believe she may in truth, now in her early forties (the affair started when she was 39) resent the fact that I “stole” her teenage years and early twenties….. Much as I hate to admit it I do sort of get that.

    I won’t go into details but it wasn’t quick furtive afternoons in hotels – It was the full on romantic affair – full overnights in expensive hotels – Works does / nights out with girlfriends was the exuse – Grandparents looking after the kids whilst I was away, she had a very active social life which I encouraged – I wanted her to be happy – but crucially in hindsight I was not really part of her social circles. I work away a lot during the week even in the UK and the affair started whilst I was serving away on an operational tour…..but continued for over a year once I got back. She even went on a long weekend break in Europe with him when I thought she was having a spa weekend treat with a girlfriend. I took the kids camping that weekend totally trusting and oblivious. Her attitude and high risk (planes could have been delayed / accident whilst abroad etc) with that I find breathtaking. Day trips with him in the UK with again a nice hotel overnight. Worst of all she met his parents at their house (took her rings off of course) and essentially pretended to be his girlfriend……You will gather by now she had plenty of opportunity afforded by our circumstances. And another crushing blow she has a coil – so the sex was unprotected from an STD perspective throughout…… I may be wrong and please forgive any unintentional female stereotyping, but I believe that meant she must definitely have formed a deep emotional attachment to him – She had fallen in love with him…. the pain of that cuts to my very soul. To top it all off when he left the company they worked for to get a new job, after the affair had ended, she applied to the same organisation and now works there. Not the same department but her office is just 3 mins from his office…..To say I am very nervous about this is obviously a massive understatement.

    Of course he was seeing other women. That is why once she found out she (eventually – disturbing for me again) “left” him 18 months ago but they remained “friends” until of course discovery day which was triggered my me catching her meeting him for lunch at a pub when she
    Said she was going into town for lunch with a girlfriend 5 months ago……She explained it away as “just friends” and she didn’t tell me because I wouldn’t,t understand and be jealous. I then of course went into full on Sherlock mode and found the email as in my earlier post. So I know she was reconnected to him and at least having an emotional affair at that point again.

    So that is it the whole sordid detail. At my insistence she has broken of all contact with him and I believe that is being maintained (she is aware I am watching her very carefully – but also seems genuinely shocked, ashamed and very sorry for the affair) She has difficulty expressing emotions – whilst I tend to wear mine on my sleeves and yes, you are right, an angry shouting man must be very intimidating, even though she says she is sure I would never physically harm her – which I would not. No excuse, I will have to reign it in – I love her, I want to protect her. I have sent angry texts which I suppose is still abuse in a way but at least I can get my points and thoughts across clearly without the tension of being in the same room. We live in the same house, sleep in the same bed, and kiss and cuddle, the majority of the time now we are stable and loving and thankfully this is increasing with each passing month – sex is still beyond us both at the moment. She is very angry at times with me and I think it is frustration, shame and guilt and really anger at herself – she is genuinely shocked at the hurt she has caused and is struggling to deal with it. Like all cheats she deluded herself at the beginning that no one would ever know, what I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me, it was only temporary and she could handle it – but of course she got in way too deep. She says sorry a lot but has never cried in front of me, unlike me often, since discovery, in front of her. She positively wants to stay married, she has booked her own relate one on one counselling sessions and is all for our joint sessions. She is working hard towards reconciliation and is putting my needs first. I worry she will feel trapped now – that I will always hold the affair over her. I love her – totally. I love my children.

    I realise my posts are maybe hijacking these replies but I would greatly value a woman’s insight to her mentality at the time and the why? There is so very little help for men….. Any unfaithful ladies out there as well – I know there is two sides to every story and nothing in life is simple. Your insight into what she did and crucially what she will be feeling now would be very much appreciated. The future is they key – I cannot remain in the past. I will not pass judgement. I just want to make her happy – but for that to happen I must fully connect and understand her. Please help.

    Reply
    1. Iris

      Jason, I’m so sorry. Not about my confusion, about this awful situation you find yourself in. I’m so sad for you.

      It. Was. Not. Your. Fault. It isn’t up to you to read her mind. Cheaters will find justifications for their actions, after the fact. And being somewhat misunderstood (the human condition) is not a reason to set fire to the house.

      I’m sure you’re right that she wondered what her early adulthood might have been like in different circumstances and it helps to understand that, however painful it is. She’s in a lot of trouble now, sadly. So much damage for so little.

      I want to read your comment again before adding any more.

      Have you had support at work?

      Reply
      1. Jason

        Yes – In a way. The UK Armed Forces have a special arrangement with Relate for free priority sessions both for those serving and their spouses. Unfortunately and obviously the divorce rate is high in my line of work being away a lot, sometimes in harm’s way. I am not oblivious to the huge stresses and what is effectively at times single mother service wife pressures. I am aware also that may be a factor.

      2. Iris

        Jason,

        The stress on you, too. I cannot imagine.

        I don’t think you need a woman to work out what she was thinking. That isn’t another insult, we just aren’t that different. Somebody should tell the Science Museum, which has got into trouble recently for an exhibition featuring a male and female brain.

        This is a process, this recovery. It takes a while to sink in – what she has done (as a cheater) why she did it, the character of the man she did it with. It dawns on her slowly what the real nature of this business was. Who he is. That he was not her friend. There’s a cheater’s high and the coming down afterwards. Layers of realisation. If she understood this she wouldn’t be working three minutes away from him. You have every right to insist she leaves that job.

        It isn’t your job to make this better for her. She has fucked up, you can’t protect her from it. You MUST look after yourself. Take all the free counselling you’re offered. It’s a process.

        all the best to you.

      3. valkyriemad123

        Jason,

        Been reading over your comments and I am so sorry that you are here with us but know your signing to the choir! Man or woman betrayed it’s a death blow. I agree fully with Iris and especially when it comes to ‘therapy’ and the cultural tendency to shift blame to the marriage, and the unaware spouse.

        “Trouble is she actually never sat me down and told me what her issues were. She said she implied them and I should have known…”

        As M-Rec quoting Hollis in this post points out…. the ‘fantasy of the magical other promotes infidelity,’ especially for the spouse who is “Lacking in resolve to look within and to take responsibility for meeting more of his or her own needs.”

        A recommendation was made in the post for a soft landing and I believe Elle at BWC is a wonderful resource. I would also suggest Tracy Schorn’s website and recent book. That said I realize many thoughtful people have felt attacked and unsupported when making comments especially those who decide to stay married. However It provides a VERY clear framework, (even to those of us who elect to stay married). Read her book first, then let your wife and may her find herself in those pages.

        When I found out about my husband six years ago suddenly everything made sense, I consulted a lawyer, hired a PI, went into practically all forms of ‘therapy.’ started my research. I stayed because my husband abruptly ended his LT affair, demonstrated deep remorse, became accountable and transparent in all his behavior, and he fully stepped into the marriage, maybe for the first time.

        M-Rec said “There is no silver bullet. There has to be genuine remorse and acceptance of responsibility from the betrayer and behavior demonstrated over time which mirrors these feelings.”

        Jason, you are 4 months out get really clear – radical self care. Get your ducks in a row.

        When Iris said above “I’m getting on for four years afterwards, I’m still struggling.” That resonates. M-Rec reported “Not that the adultery has disappeared from my life and not that I have unrealistic hopes for the future or out marriage.”

        Finally when M-Rec said, “It is my intention and hope to travel through this part of my life with my husband but it does not have to include him. Time will tell.”

        Well, that just says it all for me.

        My love to all of you

  6. foreverchanged2014

    Wishing you all the happiness you so deserve. Thank you for your blog, it got me through the hardest journey of my life.

    Reply
  7. Nuthatch

    MR

    Thank you for your acutely perceptive, profoundly researched and eloquent blogs.
    Thank you for providing a forum for those who have been wounded by betrayal to share and discuss and gain support from one another.
    Thank you for being generous in your time and your supportive comments.
    I wish you all the best in the next chapter of your life.
    If this was a works leaving do we’d all be going out for a drink. Unfortunately we can’t however I salute you and raise my glass (after 6pm and the sun is over the yard arm – must maintain standards what-ho!)
    Bless you.

    Reply
  8. valkyriemad123

    M-Rec,

    Have I told you that this post has been a life-saver? And I agree with everyone above! wishing you – all the best, always…..

    May I take this moment to honor your shining bravery, intellect, elegance and command of language. Most significantly taking other peoples works (books articles, theories) and EXPLAINING them to me at the same time challenging what’s been given. Tackling this very complex subject, helping me explore my trajectory with betrayal….. with increased compassion and curiosity. Quite simply you helped validate what I was observing, witnessing and experiencing and put it into words the way I could not. You have given me a precious gift for which I will remain eternally grateful.

    May I SELFISHLY implore that you consider – the occasionally visit here with what ever you are reading! and of course thinking. I don’t care what the subject because I know I would benefit.

    I really looked for your posts everyday and I will miss them most acutely.

    Reply
    1. valkyriemad123

      M-Rec,

      My husband read your last post over the weekend. He kept saying “She’s such a brilliant writer – she should write a book.” Maybe you will further down the road? We appreciate your summary of the past years into one last blog! Anyway, my husband sat down and wrote you the following:

      Dear M-Rec

      I have read and reread your last post several times. During 6 years of recovery from the
      damage wrought by my infidelity in our marriage your blog has served as an invaluable resource
      for V and I. This last post is wonderfully descriptive and filled with wisdom and hope for
      those of us who awoke as a result of our actions and work on a daily basis to fulfill the potential
      of our commitment to ourselves and our families.
      What I was before the discovery of my infidelity and who I am now are the same with the
      exception of now I am awake, connected and involved in the pursuit of authenticity in my
      relationships and not preoccupied with the maintaining of secrets and separateness. This has
      been made possible by my wife’s fearless pursuit of the truth of what happened combined with
      my awakening to what I did and what is at stake. Infidelity is based on a premise that what I do will not harm others. It is based on a misperception that we are not really connected and causes us to turn our back on the potential of sharing a life of meaning with another person not
      only our primary relationship with our spouse but with others as well, not the least our children
      and friends. The lies created in infidelity ignore a fundamental need and source of happiness for humans, that of forming authentic and genuine social connections with others. Instead we develop transactional relationships that, from the very nature of the dishonesty of the premise are limited from the beginning.
      Your description of the process by which you have decided to deal with your pain and explore
      the marriage you are in is reassuringly familiar to the gift my wife has given me. It displays your
      heart and intelligence and love for your husband as it recognizes his honest desire and courage
      to explore your new relationship while taking full responsibility for the decisions to commit
      adultery.
      In the years since the discovery of my infidelity I have come to realize many consequences of
      my decisions. I will not bore you with them here. I see adultery as domestic abuse by stealth, a
      form of hostage taking and (not to get too dramatic) a human rights violation against the very
      people who are closest to me. My remorse over this is a daily reality but is tempered by the
      willingness of my wife and children to engage in our emotional life with rigorous honesty,
      respect and love. I have become freed by the truth. At the end of the day it is the simplest truths that are the most profound and therefore are so oftened ignored. As Hillel told the apocryphal student when asked what is the meaning of the Torah “treat others as you would have them treat thyself, all the rest is commentary”
      Thank you for sharing your experience with us and thank you for this last gift which I will
      personally cherish.

      Reply
      1. valkyriemad123

        Well I don’t know why the above passage came out so weird in format! ah well
        Peace out
        v

  9. Dandelion

    MR,
    Thank you for this blog! I’ve found so much wisdom in what you’ve written. I found myself coming here when my emotions were high and your posts had a way of making me step back from the emotion and look at the situation from a more factual perspective. Selfishly, I am sad to see the blog end. However, it makes me happy that you’ve gotten to the place you are. I wish you all the best.

    Reply
  10. Nuthatch

    MR –

    I wanted to add something and say that the holy triptych of yourself, VK and Iris have buoyed me up enormously. Thank you to you two also from the bottom of my heart. Iris – I am not sure whether you stayed or left 4 years on.

    You once posted a pic of my heroine Margaret Rutherford on this blog for me wheeling by on a bike. I now have bike and wicker basket!

    The Andy Warhol quote is spot on:

    ““When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.”

    I’ve always believed that it is all in the timing. Unfortunately in my situation it ain’t going to happen by my errant spouse.
    Iris – you encapsulated it poignantly.
    “betrayal hurts so much that in a year or two EVEN if she does everything right it may be better for you to walk away. I’m getting on for four years afterwards, I’m still struggling. It’s hard to trust anyone again.”
    2yrs 8 months and I’m done but surprisingly have now found an inner contentment. The marriage was struggling pre-affair however his coping mechanisms were to use avoidance, not communicate, escape, ignore, distract, avoid any conflict and suppress emotions. He is still in this pattern and I can do no more. I don’t know who he is and I don’t think he does either. I’ve really tuned in to my inner voice. Tried my utmost and now hope to head into the sun. Metaphorically speaking. I’m not off to Spain!

    I hope you find your inner peace.

    Reply
    1. Iris

      Nuthatch, good luck. He doesn’t deserve you.

      I am still here, yes.

      To quote MR from the post above: ‘Joseph Campbell, the depth psychologist said “I think one of the problems in marriage is that people don’t realise what it is. They think it’s a long love affair and it isn’t.”

      Thank goodness that’s true.

      x

      Reply
  11. valkyriemad123

    Beloved Nuthatch,

    From the moment you first commented on this post I sensed your extraordinary wit, capacity for resilience, strength and genuine interest in your own healing – despite your husband – above and beyond him. Despite suffering unimaginable emotional pain, You didn’t get stuck fixating and obsessing on his behavior and you spread your wings, and started for the rooftops and steeples. If I remember correctly you also have a very wonderful firebrand of a daughter. Well, She’s got an amazing role model – YOU.

    When I read ALL OF US………I do keep thinking about the Spartans and their shields when told to come back with them raised or – in them. Viking Shields….any shield of a warrior.

    I stand and salute all of us…. what a magnificent ‘tribe.’ Here’s to our journeys and to our wings….

    Reply
  12. kaye72978

    You went out with a bang- this was a great post- informative, supporting and encouraging. Thank you for all the wisdom and guidance you have shared through your blog and your comments. Wishing you all the best as you continue to move forward in your marriage!

    Reply
  13. exercisegrace

    My friend, I wish you all the best. I thank you deeply for being not only a soft place to land but a place where I have received so much support and the occasional (gentle) kick in the pants when I needed it. I don’t think I could have walked this path without the online friends I have met over the last four years. There just aren’t words. You will be missed. I wish you all the happiness in the world as you move forward from this place. You deserve it! Blessings my dear!

    Reply

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