Category Archives: Relationships

Why My Husband Committed Adultery

searchLike all of us, I thought that the answers would eventually come from my husband. The truth is, they may do but in three and a half years since D-day I’ve been unable to obtain satisfactory responses to the why he behaved as he did.  The three major responses have been: ‘I was a f**king idiot’ (accurate yes, helpful, no!); ‘I don’t remember’; and ‘It was just sex’.  It’s difficult to buy the memory answer. I suspect that he does remember, but I’m inclined to think that the motivation was so banal and basic that there aren’t the words for him to offer any meaningful comprehension.  I also don’t buy that it was just sex.  I do think that, probably, sex was all it was after a few initial shags over a few months but in the beginning I believe it was more than just sex but he’s not prepared to admit it.  Obviously I have discussed my disbeliefs with husband but it doesn’t get me very far.  He thinks I’m looking too deep and there aren’t any deep answers.  She was available for dirty sex, he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants and thought he could have his cake and eat it too.


Another big obstacle in moving through the whys is that I really cannot understand how he could do this to me.    However, I realise now that this is because I cannot imagine doing this to him.  My thinking cannot encapsulate the overwhelming idea of betraying him.  I can’t possibly understand the how because for me it would be impossible to cheat and then lie to him.  I know that I would be unable to, without immeasurable discomfort and heartache to look into his eyes, have sex with him, and tell him I loved him when behind his back I was sharing my intimacies with another man.  So, I’ve started to think along the lines that my husband might simply possess a character I had not understood fully prior to the adultery and that this character possesses a dysfunctional way of thinking not aligned to my values at all in regards to fidelity.


My own take on why husband committed adultery, without information to the contrary, has become very basic and incredibly unpleasant. Clearly, he did it because he LIKED it.  More than that, he thought Pig Shit was fan-fucking-tastic for a while.  What other reason would explain a man in a happy marriage driving over 100 miles for a first night in a hotel with a new woman, albeit a middle aged woman who I would consider to be a desperate dirt bag. There was no gun to his head.  Here was an available middle aged woman desperately seeking a man in her life.  She had gone to the same school as him and I can just imagine the “I used to really fancy you at school” dialogue.  Can’t you?  Her, looking into his eyes and smiling sweetly!  He says he doesn’t remember her at school because she was about three years below but I don’t know if I can believe this.  Pig Shit was introduced by husband’s other friends from school days – so it must have been quite a comfortable social setting.  Equally, she grew up in the same area. Husband has described her as ‘thick as two planks’!  But they got on didn’t they?  I remember him saying this in one of our very early trauma fests when I asked how he could spend a night with her.  But now, when I remind him of this, he shrugs, lifts his eyebrows and doesn’t agree with the sentiment.  He has settled into the ‘only for sex’ rationalisation.  I do think that he’s convinced himself of this but I reckon this was after a year of having her pushing into his life and her starting to want more time from him towards the latter months.


Her attraction? He says that she made it explicitly clear that she was up for sex.  I’d say it was her mediocrity.  It made him feel wonderful.  I believe that in the early days he would have even thought that she might be part of his future.  He ABSOLUTELY denies this.  I mean, it would have all been so much easier with Pig Shit wouldn’t it.  She told me that she considered him to be an ‘alpha-male’.  Go figure, that’s not how I have ever seen him. He felt entitled to this ‘adoration’ and I consider it to be an important aspect of the attraction. He says it was all about sex but he took a photograph of them both (set up his camera on timer) on a bench outside the first hotel that they shagged in.  This was a few hours BEFORE they shagged.  He kept this photo unbeknownst to me on his computer and actually got it printed off nine months later to put in a frame and give to her for her fiftieth birthday.  (Granted, it’s a shitty present but by this time he was very close to melt down).  Taking this photo means that his decision to commit adultery was more than just sex. He cannot explain why he wanted the photo but suggests that he considered her a catch!  Proof that he could still ‘do it’! Also, before arriving at this first hotel Pig Shit invited him to visit her house.  He agreed.  He thought it was for a bit of early sex.  Tell me, here is a married man en-route to a hotel he has arranged for sex, agreeing to visit her house; does this make any sense to you?


Once there, sex was not on the menu. Instead she sat him down with a cup of tea and introduced him to her two teenage kids.  My idiot husband sat there, drank his tea and obviously made himself out to be Mr Special.  I can just imagine Pig Shit telling her kids that this man was her childhood sweetheart blah, blah, blah.  Such a nice man.  Guess what, he can’t remember what they discussed.  Do you think she told her kids that he was married?  I asked husband he said he had no idea.  Then the two of them left (he says in separate cars) to go to the hotel.  But not to shag straight away.  They went for a swim and sauna.  They went for dinner (which she paid for – she paid for every meal they had because she wanted to pay her way – I guess she felt it made it a ‘proper’ relationship somehow).  My husband was doing all this on business expenses because apart from once, every time they shagged it was linked to a real work commitment.  Pig Shit is a single mother with two teenage children.  I asked why he let her pay and he just shrugs.  Then they fucked.  Husband would have had to text me during this time.  He was having a fucking ball wasn’t he?  That’s why he doesn’t want to remember.  He didn’t give a shit about any consequences.  He didn’t feel guilty or ashamed because it was all overwritten by his feeling marvellous and of his feeling of entitlement.  Nothing was going to stop husband having a shag-fest least of all any little voices of conscience.  He didn’t have any!


You think I don’t know what that newness feels like with a new person? The excitement? The physical tingling? You think husband and I didn’t have it ourselves?  We had it BIG time and that newness feeling lasted for many years. So, I know the feelings, I just wouldn’t trade my rectitude to experience it all again with someone else whilst married.  Not only do I view my marriage as something to protect and honour, the lies and deception would be too much to ask of me.  So immediately you can see I think differently.


Then, the next time, a couple of months later another hotel room but after this it was just cheap motel rooms or friends’ spare bedroom. It is clear that her expectations were low.  She must have been so easy to please.  My husband only had to text her the magic words ‘I love you’ and hey presto Pig Shit couldn’t keep her knickers on.  It was always at husband’s convenience and always linked to an overnight stay for a genuine work commitment.  This is why I never suspected what was going on.  It would be unreasonable to think that over 12 months, his staying overnight to be nearer his work on 12 occasions, signalled him being up to no good.  If he had work in Oxford, he would go up the night before, Pig Shit would drive to the location, they would eat in a pub, shag, spend the night and then both go to work.  Some relationship.  Really what do these other women say about women?  That we will accept anything as long as you say you love me and I want to believe it.  Would his actions actually demonstrate an undying love?  No, I don’t think so, but it was enough for Pig Shit!  How great for a married man?  Minimum effort – maximum gain.  Not like with me.


However, over time, he must have tired of her. Then he was trapped.  He knew how to start the adultery but he didn’t know how to stop it.  However, now Pig Shit wanted to cash in on her chips.  He had promised undying love and a future together, she had let him do all sorts of things to her genitals.  Now it was pay time for her.  But it became melt down time for husband.  Too pathetic to come clean to me and own up, too weak to break it off with Pig Shit.  You see, what do we have here?  I have to admit in the cold light of reality, this is not a nice man.  This man, who I married and thought had boyish charm was a liar, a manipulator and a coward.  He was playing me and he was playing Pig Shit which led him to become engulfed in a shitty mess of his own making.  Then things were to get even worse because of his emotional immaturity and inadequacy to deal with the problems that were a direct result of his pathetic choices.


It’s taken a while to really confront this awful truth but the truth has helped me to understand him, understand myself and understand the measures I need to take if our marriage is to recover.   At first, I was confused because his behaviour had led him to melt down.  When his melt down first started I’m not sure (he did crazy things like fill up his diesel car with petrol) but he fluctuated between on the one hand crying with desperate hugs, saying how much he loved me and on the other, making comments that he didn’t want to be here.  He would repeat his head in his hands “I don’t want to be here” “I don’t want to be here”.  Now I think the ‘here’ that he was referring to wasn’t our house or me it was his head.  He was in a living nightmare of his own making.  In the end I asked him to leave and the idiot respected my wish BUT WENT TO ACTUALLY LIVE WITH PIG SHIT!  By this time I do believe he wanted it over but he was too weak to tell her.  He has told me that his intention was to go and live with her to break it off gradually so that she didn’t get angry and tell me.  Don’t laugh, but I actually believe this.  His fucked up thinking has a lot to answer for.


His plan misfired. He didn’t expect me to move so quickly to seek a divorce immediately and explore selling our house.  He didn’t like living with Pig Shit – it wasn’t what he had intended or wanted.  Of that I am sure.  As I didn’t know he was with another woman, how he looked and behaved made me feel sorry for him.  After a few weeks I agreed to a trial reconciliation and he could not wait to return.  He just wanted it all swept away – to awaken from his nightmare, but his unceremonious dumping of Pig Shit was surprisingly ingenuous. It provoked the adulterous hornet and she set out to sting me in the worst way possible.  My husband, what a coward!  He couldn’t even protect me from Pig Shit’s revelation.  How could he think, for one minute, that it was all going to right itself?  I don’t know about you but this is even more fucked up thinking.


My husband behaved appallingly towards me. Both during the adultery and the lead up to the horrendous revelation.  We have not entertained therapy of any kind because I am quite cynical about the blooming counselling industry (that’s not to say I appreciate that for many it has proved invaluable) and have been determined to not involve anyone who may suggest that the ‘why’ of his adultery was somehow prompted by problems in our marriage.  That somehow it was our relationship and faults within that, that led to his adultery.  My husband, struggling to find answers to my questions would have been provided with the perfect rationale.  Then it would be a shared focus – not just on him and his choice to commit adultery but on me and what I might have done to make him vulnerable to having extra marital sex.  As far as I’m concerned, too much of the general understanding of adultery is based upon findings of what the adulterers themselves say. This is only one side and allows for pathetic rationalisations that get aired in public talks.  They were bored, felt empty, not alive, and/or had a longing.  Quite frankly who hasn’t felt like this at times in their lives.  But, why would betrayal of your spouse be considered a potential solution to these feelings?  It’s just too selfish and cruel for words!


SimonA book that has helped me considerably in this area is one written by George K Simon entitled ‘Character Disturbance; the Phenomenon of Our Age’. Interestingly, I came across it via Tracy Schorn’s blog Chump Lady so was late in coming across it because it took a while for me to become strong enough to accept the other side of the consequences of adultery – continued deception and manipulation until separation and divorce.  Chump Lady’s view that reconciliation is a unicorn  was troublesome whilst I had doubts about my own marital recovery but over the years I have become more confident in my choice to stay and have enjoyed reading about spouses who have got their life back on track by leaving their unfaithful partners.  Equally, I support any platform that gives voice to the trauma of infidelity and betrayal.


You see, for such a long time I was saying to husband ‘you’re thinking is fucked up’. I have already blogged about the behavioural psychology that suggests we are not rational thinkers, even though we are adamant that we are. This went some way to help me but Simon’s analysis has hit the spot in many more ways.  Although I am deeply reluctant to agree to a diagnostic label of DC to pin to my husband, (or anyone else for that matter) some of the symptoms that Simon discusses I have found in my husband and this has created another dimension in which to think about what he did to me and what needs to be considered to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  So, it’s a bit pick and mix, but not only does it describe some of my husband’s character or personality it goes someway to understanding why there is such widespread infidelity.  Fundamentally, for Simon, modern society is dominated by a ‘just do it’ culture which has produced increasing numbers of individuals who are not ‘hung-up’ enough about the things they allow themselves to do.  Adultery would fit this bill wouldn’t it? Stemming from an underdeveloped conscience these individuals end up with problems related to their dysfunctional attitudes and thinking patterns. These he calls disturbances of character.


Simon, whose experience is not in the field of relationship counselling or infidelity but in the study of manipulators and other disturbed characters, makes a distinct break from traditional Freudian understandings of behaviour. Considered out of date and based on understanding the neurosis of mainly upper middleclass women, he suggests that the modern demands of psychology now require a completely different perspective in order to understand this ‘just do it’ culture that divorces itself from consequences.  For Simon, neurosis is still with us but rather than being pathological as earlier thought, it now serves as an important psychological function.  We need to ensure that we possess it in a healthy measure.  It allows us to experience enough guilt or shame to restrain impulses.  “It’s what makes society work”.  With this analysis I think I would say that I am healthily neurotic! However, for some individuals, where there is a lack of healthy neurosis it can lead to an underdeveloped conscience.  And this has become widespread.


Character disturbance results in individuals “whose problems are related to their dysfunctional attitudes and thinking patterns, their shallow, self-centred relationships, their moral immaturity and social irresponsibility, and their habitual, dysfunctional behaviour patterns.” I believe that before we met, my husband was the epitome of this description but I never saw it.  Did he hide it or did his relationship with me foster better character traits? We spent nine years together in a good relationship but something seemed to have triggered off a return to his past behaviour patterns that he developed with all his ex-school friends.  Interestingly, when one of these friends (who had socialised with H and Pig Shit) rang me to find out why my H was not communicating with any of them he informed me that what I had experienced (infidelity) was what H always did.


As well as our personality, our distinctive way of relating to people and the choices that we make about how to cope best with life’s challenges also play a role. For Simon, character is an individual’s positive personality aspects – those that are socially desirable; self–control, ethics, loyalty and fortitude.   Characters that don’t develop such aspects often fail to experience the potential pangs of guilt or shame upon their decisions and are therefore able to act in socially irresponsible ways. “Anxiety is minimally present or plays a negligible role in the Disturbed Character’s problems”.  I would say this sums up my husband’s character in the early stages of his adultery.  It is clear from what he has told me that initially he felt no anxiety whatsoever about what he was doing!


“The DC’s conscience is remarkably under-developed and impaired. DCs don’t hear that little voice that urges most of us to do right, or admonishes us when we’re contemplating doing wrong.  Or, if they do hear it, they can easily ignore it, or put it in a lock box (i.e. compartmentalise it)”.


“Shame is the emotional state we experience when we feel badly about who we are. Guilt is when we feel badly about what we’ve done.”  For my husband, both of these emotions were absent until it all started to go terribly wrong for him and he could no longer continue with his behaviour.  However these two emotions are fundamental to him being able to change his character.  From his experience, Simon states “I’ve known many individuals who made significant changes in their characters.  But when they did so, it was not only because they regretted their irresponsible behaviours, but also because they became unsettled enough with the person they had allowed themselves to become (I.e. became too ashamed of themselves) that they decided to change course.  So it appears that one must have the capacity to experience both guilt and shame in order to forge a sound character.”  He goes on to point out that “being embarrassed at being uncovered or found out is not the same as genuine shame.”  So it is clear, from this perspective that any recovery from adultery will demand both guilt and shame to be experienced by the betrayer if change in them is what is required


I have blogged elsewhere about why and how people lie.  Lying it seems is one of the more common problem behaviours of DCs.  “Sometimes this lying is done so automatically that the DC finds himself lying without thinking much about it and even when the truth would have done just fine.”  I experienced this with husband and it’s something I am now conscious of all the time and regularly make checks about the most simplest of statements.  Just to ensure that there is no slippage.


DCs, in keeping with my husband’s responses, say ‘I don’t know’ a lot but for Simon this probably means one of the following.

I never really think about it that much.

I don’t like to think about it.

I don’t want to talk to you about it.

I know very well why I did it but I certainly don’t want you to know.

I hope you’ll buy the notion that I’m basically a good person whose intentions were benign.


Sounds about right!


In traditional counselling or therapy it is believed that there is a different reality undermining the façade that we see; a pitiable reality i.e. low self-esteem. The therapy acts to dig deep into someone’s emotions in order to access this reality.  However, whilst this might be true for someone with neurosis this is not the case for a DC.  Instead, what you see is what you get.  “No feelings of inferiority.  But a deeply rooted sense of entitlement”.  In fact DCs have an inflated sense of self-worth and often feel entitled to use and exploit others as they see fit.  They often ignore the reality of their circumstances and act indifferently to the truth about themselves and their behaviours.  This was my H’s behaviour during the time of the adultery.  He made my life very difficult. “For the most part DCs act first and think later and when a person lacks apprehension about what he’s about to do, he’s less likely to engage in any meaningful contemplation before he acts”.  Sums up H.  “This impulsive thinking promotes a devil may care, lackadaisical attitude and attitudes of indifference, uncaring or nonchalance”.  This was my experience of my husband whilst he was engaged in adultery.


The clarity for me, of the difference between my H’s thinking and mine can be summed up by this; “DCs are largely unaffected and undeterred by adverse consequences. Typically not unnerved by situations that would upset the neurotic.” So, my H, in the context of our marriage and his blatant disregard for my feelings, needs not help and insight to discover more about his feelings about himself but firm benign confrontation, limit setting and most especially correction.


“They need an encounter which directly confronts and challenges their dysfunctional beliefs, destructive attitudes and distorted ways of thinking which stymies their typical attempts at manipulation and impression management.” Whilst Simon is suggesting a particular type of therapy here (and this is in direct opposition to traditional psychology’s belief that personality and character disorders are untreatable) I feel that my H experienced an encounter of this kind when he left me without any acceptable reason and went to live secretly with Pig Shit.   He was absolutely lost, exhausted by the manipulation and impression management, with nobody to turn to.  Except, he wanted to return to me.  He DESPERATELY wanted to come home and have everything ‘back to normal’.


The way I responded to the knowledge of his adultery once I had agreed to a possible reconciliation matches (without my prior knowing) Simon’s suggestion of firm limits set on maladaptive behaviour, and a structuring of the terms of our engagement in a manner that prompts him to try out alternative, more pro-social ways of interrelating that I can reinforce.   Once we identified his problem behaviours and got them out into the open, our attention could be paid to the erroneous ways of thinking that had led to those behaviours.  For H to experience genuine empathy-based remorse for the injury he caused, rather than just regret, two things needed to occur.  1.  He needed to feel genuinely bad about what he’d done (guilt) – he does.  2. He must be internally unnerved about the kind of person he became (shame) through acting so irresponsibly – he is.  It is his shame and guilt which can propel him to make amends to the best of his ability and work very hard not to engage in the same misconduct again – he is working hard – to want to make himself a better person – he says this himself!


“When people have true contrition, their greatest pain is for the injury they caused someone else, and their actions reflect a sincere effort, not only to repair the damage, but also change their ways.”


“None of us is born civilised. We are not naturally predisposed to be socially conscientious or responsible beings.  No matter how one is biologically predisposed and regardless of one’s environment, certain crucial lessons must be learned at various stages if one is to develop a balanced personality and healthy character.”  We have to be “ever mindful of man’s incredible capacity to deceive himself as well as others and the temptation we all face to secure what we want and avoid what we don’t want through deception, cheating and conniving.”


Unfortunately, society doesn’t really recognise or reward those who display integrity of character. It has always been easier to cheat, lie and steal rather than take the honest path.  For most part, lying is simply easier than accepting and dealing with the truth.  And truth is a cornerstone here.  We know it as betrayed spouses and Simon knows about it through his work with DCs.  He has found “incredible power in the truth.  It’s the basis of the genuine human connection that can facilitate positive change.  “The truth is rarely pretty but it is almost always redemptive and transformative”  Don’t we just know it!


An additional understanding for me of H’s behaviour when it all got out of control has been provided by Simon and his suggestion of circumstantial thinking – the belief that one thing leads to another.  “They see their behaviour and its consequences as the inevitable result of a snowball rolling out of control and becoming too massive to stop.  Not as a result of their choices.  Circumstantial thinking means not thinking about one’s motives for engaging in behaviour, one’s internal decision-making process, and the consequences of one’s choices, but rather telling oneself that things simply happen.  That is the thinking error most responsible for the development of a socially irresponsible attitude”


Finally, returning to me and the difficulties that I have experienced in trying to understand H’s motives for what he did I’d like to return to Simon’s suggestion that I am healthily neurotic . “Neurotic individuals’ main vulnerability is that they simply can’t imagine that everyone isn’t at least to some degree like them.  They also can’t imagine that people aren’t motivated in their actions by the same kinds of issues that motivate them”.


The bottom line is our recovery from H’s adultery is all about H and how he values his own efforts to be a better person. Like it or not, for me, character matters.  You cannot legislate for morality.  H’s behaviour might not have been illegal but it was reprehensible.


Image Credit: Online Search by renjith Krishnan


Over it? An interesting concept.

finishedA couple of nights ago H mentioned that I had not brought up Pig Shit or had any mini-meltdowns for a quite a while.  He let slip that he thought I might be ‘over it’. 

Surprisingly, at his comment, I did not jump into his mouth, deep into his throat and twist his tonsils; instead, I just smiled.  Not a big broad toothy, I’m delirious type of smile, just a small one.  But, nonetheless a genuine one.  I actually didn’t feel the need to say anything.  Not like me.

But, over the past few days I’ve given some consideration to the possibility that I might be ‘over it’. That his adultery is maybe behind me and that this is what it’s like at the end.  Three years and three months past D-day.  After all, what does ‘over it’ feel like?  How will I know if I’ve reached this nirvana, the moment I have hoped for since the tsunami of betrayal hit me?

The answer is, regrettably, no I have not got ‘over-it’.  I remain devastated in the knowledge of what my husband was capable of doing.  I remain disgusted at the sordid antics that he got up to.  I remain disappointed that the man I love and chose to commit to was prepared to deceive me and lie to me for a period of one year.  To betray me and diminish my existence in his life for what, a bit of dirty pussy that satisfied his wants at the time? These memories have malarial qualities, so that even years after you think the shock has gone away,  something wretched can be recalled and wham, you’re reminded of the whole caboodle again, along with the accompanying emotions.  However, things are much, much better.  There is progression, a positive and growing pulse in our marriage that I need to recognise and celebrate.

When remembering and handling trauma, Freud made a distinction between ‘acting-out’ and ‘working-through’.  Acting-out is the tendency to compulsively re-enact the trauma. To relive the past, and to exist in the present as if still fully in the past, with no distance from it. This activity is exhausting and intrudes on everyday living.  On reflection, I can see that I was mostly acting-out for a year or so post D-day.  I was practically consumed by it.

By contrast, ‘working-through’ is when we try to gain a critical distance from the trauma, to be able to distinguish between past, present and future. By doing this, we are able to recognise the horror of what happened and even though we can’t fully disengage we can focus on the here and now and recognise it as different from the past.  By working-out the trauma we are able to reach an accommodation which allows for personal change and restored vitality.  This is what my husband has noticed.  I am now working-through the adultery much more than I am acting-out; in fact the acting-out is relatively infrequent now.

This is why my H thinks I might be over it.  But, the wound of betrayal remains and this in turn causes a loss of confidence in the other.  How could it be otherwise?   The worm of doubt remains and is observed in every action.  This will exist even if H is not with me.   Both to my husband and me, and to outside observers, our marriage feels as if it has recovered from the storm of infidelity.  We have found a place to anchor.  However, for me, the betrayed spouse, my work has not finished.  It’s not just accepting the past it’s about accepting that the future can only be different because I am changed dramatically.  And as Alice in Wonderland so rightly said; “it’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then”.  My recovered marriage is now between two very different people and I need to understand this phenomenon.

Janet Reibenstein in her book ‘The Best Kept Secret’ (her research into what makes for successful long-term relationships) says that each partnership is likely to have a marital trial by fire.  My marital trial was adultery, and you don’t get much worse to threaten a marriage. However, we know that some happy relationships have encompassed infidelity.   I found this book a welcome inclusion in my working-out.  It’s difficult to find accounts of the relationships that endure.  Reibenstein suggests that this is because “the stories of the Great Partnerships are obviously not being heard above the din of reports of the failed ones.”  What is clear is that intimacy, the core component of marriage is like all intimacies, not public, therefore marital relationships, although a world away from adulterous liaisons remains just as private and just as secret.  It’s as if we have the fictional and fanciful romantic genre of love abundantly offered to us in film, literature, music and the media on the one hand, yet find a vacuum when attempting to understand what the reality of enduring love might look like and feel like.   It is no straightforward or simple matter. “Love is a portmanteau carrying multiple meanings and a stew of emotions”.

It was whilst reading Reibenstein’s book that I started to realise that although I may still carry the scars of the adultery, our marriage has genuinely started to recover.  All the hours of screaming, wailing, talking, weeping, holding and breathing (and copious cups of teas) have proved to be key components in the alchemical mix of recovery.  The other big part of this mix is H’s continuous remorse and focus on the details of his current behaviour so that I am never placed in a position to doubt him.  He has discovered the necessary ‘repair mechanisms’ – the ways in which to express regret for hurt caused and awareness of hurt experienced.

My marriage is important to me and I am starting to feel that we have something that transcends the betrayal.  Perhaps I underestimated us as a couple. Our relationship might just be a whole lot bigger than the issue that we’re dealing with.  The adultery has been a point of rupture for us but isn’t this the real stuff of romance?  The story of romance in the original sense of the word meant tales of heroes and heroines who have undergone distress, sometimes of the most appalling kind, yet have survived, relationship intact.  And why not?

As Reibenstein suggests “There is such ignorance about the insatiable, on-going, time-honoured, and even animal need to be in a happy, secure, erotic and deepening union with one other person”.  (Note the ‘one person’).  Research is accumulating to support the idea that our desire for a singular relationship is innate and lifelong. Being in a marriage can be the central, transformational and ever replenishing relationship of our lives.  However, there must be no illusions about what this requires.   Reibenstein concludes,  “instead of perfect contentment, they [couples]strive for pragmatic, imperfect solutions”.  I think this just about sums up how I feel about my marriage now.  Seeking perfect contentment would be unrealistic; not just in my marriage but in life.  Instead, H and I are finding our imperfect solutions.

I am reminded of these words which I found many years ago and noted:

Even if I know a given person thoroughly, and I also know myself, I still have to grasp the truth of the unitary and unique event which links us, and in which we are participants.

Mikhail Bakhtin: Towards a Philosophy of the Act.

Image Credit: Completing Jigsaw Means Solution Completing Or Achievement by Stuart Miles:

Adultery can only occur when integrity is absent

3Adultery involves three people

A betraying spouse, a betrayed spouse and a mobile bed object.  It takes place in a wasteland devoid of reality. For me, the betrayed spouse I have had to deal with a dual reality for the year in which the adultery took place.  A bit like a computer with a split screen. What my life was like during the year when I didn’t know about the adultery and my life during that year now that I know the sordid and disgraceful details of his behaviour.  My husband’s reality was the hubris that he could have his cake and eat it too, and for Pig Shit she believed that by acting like I didn’t exist I would disappear and she would be able to have my husband for herself.

As for all the adultery onlookers, the so called friends who encouraged and facilitated the adultery, they must have comforted themselves with a story that made his behaviour acceptable to them.  Stories which condone the unwritten social contract that supports the betraying spouse and mobile bed object but which compromises their relationship both to the betrayed spouse and to their marriage.

These types of morally questionable actions and human relationship scenarios act like battery acid on notions of integrity.  For my husband and for Pig Shit, inauthenticity and the fudging of integrity were a normal part of their relationship.  Instead of integrating, they did the opposite, they honestycompartmentalised.  They took things which were related and stuck them in separate, airtight compartments in their minds where they didn’t have to rub up against each other and cause any pain or contradiction. Compartmentalisation is painless whereas integrity never is.  So, honesty, loyalty and commitment are simply parcelled up and compartmentalised and kept separate from other compartments.  If you compartmentalise the fact that your ‘boyfriend’ is married and goes home to his wife, you can simply put that to one side so that it doesn’t bother you in any way. Because it isn’t integrated with the rest of your life you can then act sisterly to women friends whilst engaging with misogynistic betrayal of a woman just because she is married to the man that you want to steal.  You can hope that your father doesn’t betray your mother, that your daughter is not betrayed by her husband, that your friend’s husbands’ remain faithful and all the whilst shag a married man yourself.

My husband compartmentalised what he was doing with Pig Shit.  He would have to act differently with different people.  Remember who he needed to lie to, remember the lies he told in order to keep it compartmentalised.  Have a perfectly good relationship with me, knowing how much I value fidelity whilst also shagging a dirt bag sporadically in various motels and telling her he loved her as a way of ‘keeping her sweet’ so that she would always be available when he felt like additional sex!

integrityFor me, as the betrayed spouse, I have had different issues with integrity and it is this that makes healing so very difficult and makes moving on a slow process.  I have never been a compartmentaliser.   I have worked at accepting the tensions of competing and conflicting ideas and values and have sought integration in all aspects of my life both personally and professionally.  I value trust, loyalty, commitment, friendship and honesty and I have lived my life by these values.  I have never compromised where these values are concerned.  Now, I have the difficult task of integrating what did happen with what I thought happened and all of these values have been trodden on.  I have to be able to integrate what happened, no matter how awful,  into my narrative.  It is an arduous task.drowning  I liken it to an image of walking on ice.  I start walking on it on the date that husband met Pig Shit and it will end when I reach the date on which she texted me telling me that she had been shagging my husband.  My husband is already at this edge waiting for me.  The walk is slow and every now and again the ice cracks and I fall down. Down, down, down, down, into an adulterous event of some kind.   It takes a while to talk it through but eventually I get back on top and I’m walking again.

This is the price I pay for my integrity.

This is the price that all betrayed spouses have to pay when others try to destroy their integrity. But integrity will always raise its pretty head and although it requires a hell of a lot of courage the alternative is despair and I’m not going there!

Image Credits: Brick Wall Numeric by satit_srihin; Truth Sign by Stuart Miles; Honesty Concept In Word Tag by David Castillo Dominici; Sinking In To Water by koratmember all via

The Baggage of Adultery

luggageI sometimes feel as if I am needlessly carrying bags and bags of luggage around with me on the road to healing from my husband’s adultery.

Sometimes these bags weigh very heavy.  I’m not sure what’s in them and I don’t think I need to have them all with me.  I actually wonder if I might just throw them all away.  Well, at least get rid of those that don’t serve me anymore.  Learn to travel more lightly.    I also have a sneaking suspicion that some of these bags may not even belong to me.  Maybe I just picked up other people’s baggage on the way or possibly some people threw their luggage at me and I just accepted it?

I didn’t realise I carried so much personal luggage around with me but there’s nothing like facing the reality of adultery and being betrayed to realise what a Pandora’s box can be opened.  My husband’s rank stupidity has led to severely detrimental and far-reaching consequences for me.  I am an holding caseintelligent, well educated, resilient woman who has faced her fair share of tragedy and difficulty in life.  I have also achieved remarkable things in my life.  So why has my husband’s infidelity been able to rock me so badly?  Why is it proving so difficult to overcome and to move on?  I think it’s because it stirs up all the shit that I thought had settled.  Did I really think that I had offloaded all that unwanted baggage?  Yes, I think I did. Ha-ha joke!  I also realise now that this feeling of being weighed down is probably significant and I do need to learn how to travel lighter.  It is not just for my mental well being either.

Dr. Mario Martinez, a clinical neuropsychologist has conducted quite a bit of research into how our thoughts find biological expression.  He suggests that there are only three major archetypal wounds that cause us anguish.  They are shame, abandonment and betrayal.  He says that most people will have one or more of these wounds and they stay with us and influence the way we interpret events that happen to us. As a betrayed spouse I am confronted with a double whammy.  On the one hand, I little girl with casecarry around my own wound(s) as a form of luggage (possibly caused early in my life) but on the other I am faced with all three wounds as fresh cuts because finding out that your husband has been unfaithful inflicts all three wounds at once. Is it any wonder we can’t navigate our way through.  Is it any wonder that the early days post D-day are such a chaotic time.  All three wounds cause fear and pain but shame includes embarrassment; abandonment includes isolation; and betrayal includes anger.  Well, there’s three suitcases named; embarrassment, isolation, and anger.  Heavy loads.

He suggests that there needs to be healing fields created to resolve these wounds.  They are honour for shame, commitment for abandonment, and loyalty for betrayal.  Therefore, in our marital recovery process we need to establish a healing field of all three.  To heal these wounds and to get rid of unwanted baggage requires honour, commitment and loyalty.  I already provided this in our marriage so it is clear that it is my husband who has to work the hardest in creating the healing field.  And he is.

Another useful consideration that I’ve  found in Martinez’s work is his belief in the role of culture and how it shapes our realities.  We don’t develop in a vacuum.  Society bombards us with negative images of betrayed spouses and this undoubtedly has a measurably negative impact on how we view ourselves in this context.  That’s another item of luggage to carry. How others view my decision to remain with someone who cheated.

However, and like Pandora’s box, there is one suitcase that I do want to travel with and am happy tocase and balloons keep it close at hand.  It is called HOPE.  I will get through this. I will commit to my choice to stay in this marriage and between us we will forge a relationship that represents honour, commitment and loyalty. Nothing less will be acceptable to me.

Image credit: ‘Old Suitcases by nuttakit/

Staying after Adultery: The Road Less Travelled

clearing in woodsA long time ago I read a book entitled ‘The Road Less Travelled’ written by M.Scott Peck.

I woke up today thinking about the phrase and wondered if this might be an insightful way of describing the process by which I am working to accept my husband’s infidelity.  The title actually comes from a lovely poem by Robert Frost entitled ‘The Road Not Taken’.  The last verse is: “I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference

Just over two and a half years ago I had a choice of roads to take in my life following the revelation that my husband had been unfaithful to me.  I could take the well worn and highly encouraged road that leads toroads divorce or opt for the road I had no idea about and which no one I knew was able to suggest; the road of marital recovery.  I took the latter and it has made all the difference.  I remain married to my husband and together we are building a different, more honest relationship that I hope will lead to a decent joint future for us both.

Fortunately, through all of my reading and research about the subject of adultery I have managed to create an effective navigational tool box to help me on this difficult road. Equally, thanks to the web and some wonderful bloggers I have discovered many fellow travellers. The road continues ahead of me and I know that there is no turning back.  There would be nothing to return to.

What has struck me as ironic in my thinking about Peck’s book, is the fact that although he may have been deeply insightful he was also an utterly flawed human being. The ideas that he proposed for a good life were interestingly absent in his own life. Amongst his chaotic personal choices, until impotency stopped him, he was a serial adulterer whose wife of longstanding left him and divorced him a couple of years before he died.  The Guardian newspaper’s obituary for him in 2005 described him as a ‘pop psychiatrist who ignored his best selling advice’.

solutionNevertheless, I still find his four rules for the road less travelled a useful tool for understanding not only the camber of the road that I’m on, but also for helping to shape some meaning and purpose out of my actions.  Peck begins the book  with the stand alone observation; ‘Life is difficult’.  There is no escaping this truth.  Therefore in order to deal with these difficulties it is important that we face the pain of solving the problem head on.  It is through these actions that life can become more meaningful.

So, for the road that I am on (along with my husband) there are four principle rules to follow:

Delayed gratification; the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward. Generally, delayed gratification is associated with resisting a smaller but more immediate reward in order to receive a larger or more enduring reward later. This is a rule that my husband did not follow when he made a choice to betray me.  He has learned from his bitter experience that his going for an immediate gratification has threatened the more enduring reward of remaining married to me and sharing our lives together.  For me, I think I felt initially that going for a divorce would be an instant reward.  Perversely, the idea of divorce made me feel righteous and the high ground would have helped me to disassociate with the shame of his behaviour.  In divorcing him I would have divorced myself from the squalid and sordid mess that he got himself embroiled in.  In taking the road less travelled I have resisted that immediate reward (and I’ve since found out that even had I divorced him I would need to take this road because I would still need to make sense of it all in order to heal and to move on) for what I believe will be the reward of an honest and open relationship that treats love as an action rather than an emotion.

Acceptance of Responsibility; the ability to accept responsibility for one’s own decisions.  “The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behaviour lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behaviour. Whenever we seek to avoid the responsibility for our own behaviour, we do so by attempting to give that responsibility to some other individual or organization or entity. But this means we then give away our power to that entity.” My husband has accepted full responsibility for his behaviour.  He has not blamed me or anything in our marriage for his decision to commit adultery, or the other woman, or his friends that facilitated and encouraged it.  I have accepted responsibility for my choice to stay and work within the marriage in order to recover our relationship.  There has been no gun to my head and even though my husband has had a significant impact on my decision, the decision remains mine and I will accept the outcome whatever shape that might take.

Dedication to truth; basically, a commitment to honesty, both in word and deed.   This includes the ability to modify opinions and views when exposed to new information discordant with the old view. Peck also suggests that this encompasses genuine self-examination, and a willingness to be personally challenged by others, and honesty to oneself as well as to others.  We have both embraced this rule wholeheartedly which has required a lot of soul searching between us.  Uncomfortable and hugely unpleasant at times but it has been cathartic in many ways.  My husband’s  view about adultery has changed in the wake of the awful consequences and I have changed my view that the only solution to adultery is divorce.

Finally: Balancing; this is the ability to reconcile multiple complex, possibly conflicting factors that impact upon important decisions for self and others.  This without doubt has been a huge ask along the road I have been travelling.  Anyone who has experienced betrayal knows  first hand the full spectrum of  devastating thoughts  that threaten to drown them.  Adultery contains so many conflicting factors and also calls into question the notion of any shared reality.  This remains the most difficult component for me personally because  I am the betrayed spouse which means I was taken out of the equation at the very start.  No matter what my husband feels about all the contradictions and mental fog, he made a decision that he was in control of.  I think that that in itself provides a certain balance for him.  My equilibrium was turned inside out and I have had to work very hard to remain upright and dignified on my journey on this road.  I have also needed to redefine my ideas around love and to break from the idealised romantic notions. For Peck, love is not a feeling but an activity; ‘love is as love does’.maze

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

Image Credits: ‘Choice Road’ by Iamnee; ‘Solution Concept’ by David Castillo Dominici; 3’d Man At Maze Shows Challenge Or Confused’ by Stuart Miles; all via

Why married men return to their wives

u turnLately, I’ve been giving some thought to why my husband chose to work on his marriage to me and completely cut Pig Shit out of his life.

If he had wanted to, he could easily have chosen to commit to her.  However, I don’t believe that was ever something that he planned to do.  From what I’ve read, some men are clearly looking for an exit strategy. (Why they don’t just leave an unhappy marriage baffles me – why do they need someone else to leave for?) However, some don’t have any intention to leave their wives they just want to have extra marital sex with accommodating women and to keep it a secret from their wives. They assume that they can have their cake and eat it too.  Selfish, immature and loose boundaries, these husbands are idiots.  Pig Shit may think that my husband ‘returned’ to me but in truth, he never left me.  She was lied to more than me.  She allowed herself to be used sexually in return for a promise of a ‘normal’ life with my husband at some time in the future. What a grim picture.  Even men who do leave their wives (and this is a very small number indeed!) seldom stay with the woman that they’ve been shagging whilst married.  Pig Shit had previously had a relationship with another married man for three years and apparently he ‘returned to his wife’.  What are the chances that he never had any intention to commit to her.  What is it with these fuck-wit women?

You see, I didn’t even know he was committing adultery.  We both work from home for the majority of the time and if you added up the nights he spent away it would be too sporadic to account for another woman (well, that was before I knew what I know now!!!).  However, something started to feel lovedifferent in our relationship.  He became distant and I frequently pressed him on this but never got anywhere and it would frequently end in a bit of a row (something we don’t do much of, normally).  I even asked if he was gay!  I was in such a muddle as to what was disturbing him. We were still having regular sex and was, in my mind anyway, still happily married.  However, by the end of June 2011 (10 months after their first shag) he had got progressively more strange and I had had enough of his behaviour.  He seemed to be going into some kind of melt down.  One night he sobbed in my arms telling me how much he loved me.  The next night he decided to go sleep in the spare room but he wouldn’t tell me why.  He just kept saying that he didn’t want to be here.  I assumed ‘here’ was our home and me. So, by now I have concluded that he is having his mid-life crisis and is probably shagging prostitutes and having one night stands.  Intuitively, I knew it was sexual.  Once he moved out of our marital bed I was at a complete loss as what to do next but knew things could not remain as they were.  I decided to leave him that night and went to live with my brother.

Two days later I arranged to meet him in a neutral space and explained that it was all going to change.  I told him that I had heard him, loud and clear.  He didn’t want to be here (that was, aboxert home with me) so, I suggested he left and went to stay with friends so that he could be someplace else.  I would put the house on the market and see a solicitor about a divorce.  In two days he had left our home, taken all his clothes and business files/computer and our television.  (I’m not a lover of TV and it was a large one, so I had asked him to take it with him and to cancel our satellite rental).  I didn’t care where he was going at this stage.  I did get an estate agent to visit and I did have my first appointment with a divorce lawyer. I didn’t want to do these things but I found all the other alternatives unacceptable to me.  I would not beg him to stay.  We do not have children together, so if he didn’t want what we had together I felt that there was little left for me to do except take charge of myself.  I needed to feel that I was making my own choices and not becoming a victim of his actions.

I stopped acting like a caring wife and became business-like in my approach.  Inside I was devastated by what I thought was his change of heart for me but I know that you can’t make someone love you and if he had stopped loving me I would rather us part.  I cried, I drunk too much and started dancing on my own, in the living room to loud club music until the early hours.  I had no idea what he was up to save staying with a friend.  I no longer thought it was any of my business.  I got strength from my dignity in this and somehow knew I would survive his rejection of me.  It’s funny but I was stronger in this situation, MUCH stronger, than when I had to face the reality of what had been going on.  Adultery.

I was able to keep my reserve, at least on the outside, but naturally I was heartbroken and still veryheart confused as to what his problem was.  I did wonder if he was having a bit of a breakdown because it was all so strange. Anyway, a few days later he arrived on our doorstep begging to come home and from this day forward he just kept on and on with phone calls and texts and meetings.  I would not take him back immediately.  I said I wanted to know what the problem was.  Needless to say it never became clear.  He was a mass of contradictions and he started to worry me. I still loved him and was becoming deeply concerned by his psychological state.

Finally, I relented and agreed he could come home. He ‘returned’ on Wednesday 1st August.  He didn’t plan on telling me the truth (for all the reasons that I’m fully familiar with now) and just hoped he could make everything right. He had told Pig Shit that it was over with her but he didn’t disclose that he was coming to me.  He told her more lies.   He told her that he was going to stay with a friend and then go out to South Africa to his cousin.

On Friday 3rd August (2 days after he left her house) Pig Shit sent me a text.  She wanted me to know what she had been doing with my husband because she was concerned that he would try to ‘worm’ his way back to me. She wanted the both of us (her and I) to find a more genuine man.  Yes, she really did text this. Only two days previously she was deliriously happy to have my husband in her bed.  A month before this she was prepared to shag him when it was convenient for him and then have him return to me for weeks until her next shag.  She knew he was married and was lying to me.  Did she REALLY consider him genuine?  Pleeeeeeeeeease!

But why was she so quick to text me?  She knew didn’t she. Shagging another woman’s husband is destructive and the motivation to do so comes from a dark place in the soul. “I don’t  know exactly what covetous is, but in my experience it is not so much desiring someone else’s virtue or happiness as rejecting it, taking offense at the beauty of it.” Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

Married men don’t really return to their wives because in their head they had no intention of leaving. When they realise what a dog’s dinner they’ve made of their life (and this can only occur when they truly believe they will lose their wife) they panic and try to make amends. Their wives may not find it possible to allow this but that is for each of us betrayed spouses to come to terms with.

Image Credit: “U-Turn Sign” by manostphoto; “Letters Love” by phanlop88; “3d Boxer” by David Castillo Dominici; “Broken Heart Sign, Loss Of Love Concept” by cuteimage; via

Affairs: So What?

BLOOD BOILINGIt’s just relentless! 

Picked up the Sunday Times 12th October 2014 and in the Style supplement there is an article written by India Knight who wants to share excerpts from her new book ‘In Her Prime: Older, Wiser, Happier’.  A journalist, columnist, novelist and regular writer for the Sunday Times she has a fairly high-profile.  I think I once purchased one of her books on the art of shopping. She has published a book on how to lose weight by reducing carbs, other light non-fiction and a number of novels.  Her non-fiction books appear to be semi-autobiographical; what India would do, what India thinks best, what India has tried that has worked.  The excerpts from her book seem innocuous enough, in the main.  “Everyone I know who is over 50 and looks fantastic does yoga.  Just do it.  You can thank me later”.      She provides her 15 rules for beauty, (tips on eyeliner, Botox and blusher etc.) but then throws in, for good measure I suppose, her philosophy on sex and relations. “If you fancy someone, and they fancy you, then you should be pleased and excited to be naked in a bed”  Not exactly profound and I would normally smile at such things but I found it impossible because she goes on to imply that adultery really isn’t a problem in marriages and long-term relationships.  It makes my blood boil!

She begins by saying that she doesn’t intend to mount a defence of adultery but she “does wonder how much it matters to our hypothetical long-married couple”.  Well India, you don’t have to wonder – take a look at the betrayed spouses blogosphere sister – you’ll see how much it fucking matters!

Distilling her wisdom further she makes fleeting and glib reference to the pain inflicted by infidelity although there is no explicit mention of any particular pain that may be reserved for only  the betrayed spouse. Maybe she doesn’t know about this?   She goes on:

“As we have seen, the adulterer is partly to be pitied: they want proof that they’re still hot, which is sad, however you cut it, and maybe a teeny bit deserving of sympathy.  I’m not convinced that behaving as though you are in a soap opera – screaming yourself hoarse and showing your other half the door – is necessarily the sensible solution here.  Yes, lots of affairs are terminal – too many, if you ask me, because we’ve been conditioned to think that they’re the end of everything, rather than difficult but manageable like a broken limb or small head wound.  The odd blip – one or two (max) over a period of decades – is, if not quite excusable, then at least humanly understandable. What I’m actually doing is beating around the bush and trying to think of a more palatable way of saying, ‘Affairs: so what?’  Like many women, I might be inclined – through the benefits of being older, wiser and less judgemental – to think: “Stupid arse.  I am really, really pissed off and upset, but I think we can probably work it through”

Pleeeeeeeeeease!!!!!!!  When are people going to understand that it is not just the sex!!!!!!  It is Dangerthe betrayal, the lies, the secrets, the detachment, the breach of trust the crazy making time of being told that you are nuts and that nothing is going on and that there is no one else.  Finding out that the person that you loved and trusted the most was prepared to be dishonest and deceptive.

Maybe India Knight has not experienced this.  I wonder if she would be quite so glib if her partner began to deceive her.  Bit more than pissed off perhaps? Beware of  Karma, India Knight, it has a funny way of teaching you what you need to know at the right time in your life.  And here’s one person who will not be buying your book.


Image Credit:  Thermometer by Stuart Miles; Danger Sign by taoty