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Burden of Responsibility: Is a mother to blame for her son’s infidelity?


I received an email from a reader of the blog today.  She is devastated because she just learned that her son has been unfaithful in his relationship, and she feels that she has failed as a mother.  As a betrayed spouse, she had a horrible experience, and wanted only the best for her children.  She shared the infidelity openly with them, in the hopes that they would see the pain their father had caused, and know the impact and devastation that an affair can bring.

She emailed me today to ask if I thought that she was a failure as a mother as a result of her son having strayed.

I picked up the email as I was stepping into the car to pick up my children from school, so I didn’t have the chance to send a detailed reply.  Since I was going to reply further, and since I know she reads the blog, I thought that others could also benefit from the post, and also chime in with their thoughts and support for her.

In my opinion, she is no more responsible for her son’s adulterous ways than she was for the affairs her husband had.  These are grown men, with free will, who should know better, and who chose to commit infidelity in their relationships…JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER MAN/WOMAN WHO DOES IT.  I told her in my reply that she is not responsible, and then I wanted to go into more detail and couldn’t.  What I would have added was:

My Mother in Law (MIL) was repeatedly cheated on by my FIL.  He took several mistresses, including my son’s nanny, and my MIL’s best friend.  Repeated infidelity over a long period of time, and infidelity that she came to know about.  Surely, she sought no help, and received no support.  I know this not only because this wouldn’t have been as commonplace (the support, not affairs), but also because she is not one who would know how to solve the issue, how to communicate effectively around it, how to seek support, and  is someone who would instead internalize it, thinking herself the cause, shifting the blame onto herself.  After many years, and a divorce, he abandoned her when she started to show signs of mental illness.  She was increasingly afraid to go out on her own, paranoid from time to time, and just not her old self.  She was damaged, and he moved on…married the best friend that he had once cheated with (needless to say that relationship didn’t last either).   She was, and still is, a broken woman.  She lives with her elderly mother, a woman who puts her down, makes her feel incapable and has essentially infantalized her into being completely dependent on her.

My husband had an affair knowing FULL WELL what the consequences of affairs can be.   He watched his mother disintegrate into a shell of a woman.  Is his mother to blame for not having “raised him right?”.  Absolutely not.  Should I blame her for not being proactive enough and educating him on how to prevent an affair?  No.  I can’t blame her anymore than I can blame myself for his affair.

So, dear reader, unless your son consulted with you, and asked you whether he should seek an affair and you helped him to have one, you have no responsibility for his actions.

Last night on the news, I sat transfixed on the story of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who were kidnapped and help captive for ten years, repeatedly raped and beaten by Ariel Castro.  I watched as they interviewed his mother, sitting in the front seat of her car, overwhelmed with grief and shame for her son’s actions.  She wept, speaking in Spanish, telling the news crew how she is so sorry for what he has done, and how she feels so badly for those girls.

I think we would all agree that this mother can’t be blamed for her son’s wicked actions, and we can all be fairly assured that she did her best in raising him, and cannot be held responsible for his decisions, many years after she has completed “raising him”.

Ted Bundy’s mother, Paul Bernardo’s mother…pick any sociopathic individual who has commited the most heinous of crimes, and we can still say with certainty that their mothers didn’t influence their actions, or play a role.

Dear reader, I know it is hard to learn that someone you love has been so hurtful to someone else, especially when you feel he should have known better, seeing what you had gone through.  It is hard to look at him, and not be triggered once more, feeling like the devil is too close.  It is hard to see him as your son, and not as a man who is capable of such deceit and causing such anguish.  Remember, that if he is remorseful, and truly wants to learn from this and grow, that he will need your support.  You are in a great position to be a support to his partner, and to help her through this.  You will help bridge the gap between them, and offer them hope and solutions.  You are, however, in no way responsible for what he has chosen to do, any more than you would be responsible if he woke up tomorrow and robbed a bank.

Stay strong.

 

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Becoming a man of honor


I know I talk a lot about the seminars led by Anne and Brian Bercht, author of “My husband’s affair became the best thing that ever happened to me”.

Anne Bercht Book on Infidelity

I do so because I believe strongly in what they do, both theoretically, but also practically, as I have participated in two of their weekends, and was asked to coach at upcoming seminars for betrayed wives.  They are the most compassionate couple, who sincerely want you to thrive, and find your way through this horrible experience.

There is a weekend designed exclusively for men, called “Man of Honor”.  This weekend, which takes place in a beautiful outdoor retreat in Colorado, allows men to come together and learn what it takes to be a man of honor, to build character worthy of respect, and to leave a legacy.  It welcomes unfaithful men, as well as men who have been betrayed.  This is the only seminar, other than the healing from affairs weekend for couples, where the betrayed and the unfaithful come together to learn, to share, and to grow.

I am pleased to say that my husband will be attending the upcoming weekend for men on May 3-5th, 2013.  Although he has come so far, and made great strides in repairing what he did through his affair, he still sees value in learning more, protecting more, and growing more.  I respect and admire that about him, and am pleased that he doesn’t ever consider himself “done”.  It is a lifelong growth curve that he feels he will always be on, and this issue and its ramifications will forever be in the wings of his mind, acting as a guiding force as he navigates boundaries with other women, co-workers, and friends.  This experience has shown him that this can happen to ANYONE, and that unless you are taking active steps to prevent an affair, thinking that you are immune is the greatest vulnerability your marriage will ever experience.

For anyone whose husband is struggling with how to support their betrayed spouse, for men who have healed but want to take it to the next level, for betrayed men who want answers to how to heal, and for any man who just wants to be BETTER, this seminar will get you there.  I respect and advocate for their work so much, I wanted to blog about it 🙂

It can be costly to attend these weekends…it’s true.  But, you also need to ask yourself how much it will cost emotionally and financially to lose your marriage?   It’s worth it.  Go.

The veil of secrecy


Sometimes I wonder, if it is considered “OK” to sleep with a married man, and most mistresses claim that they weren’t doing anything wrong, why is the relationship always veiled in secrecy?  Why do so many call it a “relationship” when really it is an illicit sexual attempt at a relationship?  Why do mistresses try so hard to take a man from his family and ruin a home, and then hold such disdain for the term “home wrecker”?  If you are so proud of the relationship and see nothing wrong with what you are doing, why not wear it loud and proud on a T-shirt?

“I am sleeping with a married man and wish he’d leave his family…”

“I am sooooo much better than my ‘boyfriend’s wife”

“My boyfriend has kids and a wife, but shhhhhh! they don’t know”

I wonder what kind of pride-filled, awe-inspired glances you’d get from passerby’s?

Would your grandma be proud?

Make grandma proud, be a homewrecker

be the pride of YOUR town

A fellow blogger started a site called “She’s a homewrecker”, designed to put under the spotlight the women who are so proud of their conquests.  C’mon ladies, don’t be upset, after all, you are only being rewarded for doing such honourable work, being so selfless, and truthfully if you really are the victim you claim to be, we just want to offer you the support.

She’s a Homewrecker

Feel free to add yourself, tell your story, share your picture.  After all, there is no shame in what you’ve done, or are actively doing, right?   So join the movement, expose yourself, don’t be shy.  If you’ve done nothing wrong, there should be no problem at all telling your story.  Be proud, share your victim story and we will all shed a little tear for all you’ve suffered through while sleeping with our husbands – it must have been so hard for you.

Do grandma proud.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


When I first made the decision that I would stay in our marriage, I felt like a coward.  It seemed as though everyone else was leaving, and why wasn’t I?  Tiger Woods had just been accused of cheating and his wife was leaving him.  Sandra Bullock suggested that Jesse James ‘not let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya’ (she didn’t actually ever say that, for the record).  Acquaintances whom I knew had gone through something similar were all jumping ship, separating, divorcing, making schedules for who would have the kids and when. And there I sat, choosing to stay with the man who had brought me so much heartache.  What was wrong with me?  Why was I so weak of character that I didn’t want to leave despite all signs pointing to the obvious?  Was I flawed?  Marred?  Scarred?  Abusable?

Over time, I’ve come to realize a few things:

1. Good people can make mistakes and still be good people
2. It takes a lot more work to stay and work on a marriage than it does to simply abandon it  and walk away
3. We live in a society where marriage is disposable and people are often too quick to throw it out
4. My responsibility in this lies not only to myself and my well-being, but also to my children and theirs
5.  You can’t change anyone but yourself, but if you find someone willing to change with you, embrace it and travel the road together

My husband isn’t perfect, but he is pretty close -for me, anyway. I saw this today, and thought I would post it for all of those people who have been hurt, deceived, and cheated on, and yet who have chosen to stay.  Many others won’t understand it, and you may get a lot of flack for your choice.  I applaud your courage and strength to face this every day, and do what you can to create something beautiful from the mess that has been dumped upon you.

Since we live in a society where marriage is disposable, I think sometimes, just sometimes, under the right conditions, we can take the crap we’ve been dealt, and work with it to create something better.  Instead of throwing away your marriage, employ the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Reduce: Take steps to reduce the negative forces on your marriage.  In many cases, that force is other people who aren’t, as Shirley Glass calls them, “friends of the marriage”.  If friends, family, or others aren’t supporting your union, and taking steps to cause you to question it, they need to be voted off the island.  Surround yourself only by those who support and cherish your union.  If a co-worker is making inappropriate comments or flirting a little too heavily, she isn’t supporting your union.  She needs to go.  As flattering as it is, she needs to be cut out like a tumour.

Reuse:  Remember the things that brought you together, the things you enjoy and the things you value most about each other.  Focus on those things and try to reintroduce them into your lives as you rebuild it.  Visit the place you fell in love, your first date, where he proposed.  Revisit and reuse those places again, and keep the memories and the feelings of those places alive.  It is sometimes easy to forget, but it is a gift if you can bring yourself to remember and value what you had before the shit hit the fan.

Recycle: Don’t be so quick to throw your marriage out.  Although divorce is at an all-time staggering high, you don’t need to be a lemming and throw yourself off the cliffside just because your friends are doing/have done it.  Reinvent your marriage with what you envision it to be, and take the steps to help your marriage become what you see.  Invest in marital therapy, and do your best to spend quality time together working on your marriage.  Make it a priority, not a side-thought.  Instead of throwing it out, recycle it into something new.  It will look different.  It will feel different.  Nothing recycled ever resembles what it did before.  But you may end up finding out that what you’ve created is a gem.

I love you sweetheart.

When a loss sits on the horizon


My mother has, what some might call, a fragile and ill-disposed constitution.  For as long as I can remember, my mother has been fragile in health.  As a child, she contracted Rheumatic Fever, an affliction which kept her in bed for the greater part of a year.  At the age of 5, as she watched her friends learn to ride bikes, she peered out of her window in awe, wishing she too could participate.  She never did learn to ride a bike.

At the age of 50, after she watched her mother pass away, she was diagnosed with a fatal genetic lung disease which has no cure.  She knew that her life would be shortened, and that she would likely succumb to some effect of the lung disease, either pneumonia or possibly heart failure from the stress on her heart from the lung compromise.  She knew it was a downhill course, she just didn’t know when the steep course would begin.  None of us did.

For the most part, her illness has had its ups and downs.  Its good days and its bad days.  From month to month, we see improvement or decline, and what is lost one month, is sometimes regained in the following months with increased vigour, stamina and interest.  Throughout 2009, it was an up and down with mostly ups.  She was regaining her stamina and was taking more of an interest in spending quality time with the grandkids as she felt she could tolerate the energy demands that three small boys require.

In April 2010, all of that started to change.

My mother received an email in March 2010 from an alias email account, informing her of my husband’s affair, and how her daughter would likely “need support” from her family.  It was also peppered with derogatory commentary about how the affair was understandable because “we all know what she is like” (that ‘she’ is me, and it should be noted that she doesn’t know me so that is an uninformed comment).  Shocked and concerned, my mother emailed me asking if something was up.  Given the circumstances, we were forced to spill the beans, and let her in on what was an intensely private set of circumstances.  The next week was replete with phone calls, suggestions, advice, sorrow and pain as she watched her little girl suffer through something that, unfortunately, she also was far too familiar with.  I had hoped to spare her the knowledge, but these things are out of your hands when the mistress takes matters into her own hands and decides to play with the lives of others for sport.

In the months that followed, her health gradually declined, and has been doing so ever since.  Hospitalizations, weeks in bed, hours of driving into the city to see the leading specialists in the field, and recommendations to not expose herself to cold viruses and other illnesses that would further compromise her lungs.  This meant limiting her exposure to her grandchildren.  We had no visit at Christmas this year, no visits since.  In the last year, my children have seen their grandparents fewer than the fingers on one hand.

Some people in this world deal with stress externally – they get focused on the problem, develop solutions and execute a plan.  Others internalize the stress, become sickly and experience physical symptoms.  My mother has always been in the latter camp, which is why one might say she has a “weak constitution”.  She does not deal well with stress.  She never has.

In the last few months, fluid has been building up in her lungs, compromising her ability to breathe.  She has had litres of fluid removed. this last tap yielding three litres.  I was informed this week, that she likely won’t survive the summer.  This is, of course, simply an estimate, and she may rebound, although it is unlikely given the gravity of her decline.  She has lost a gross amount of weight, and it is evident she is dropping fast.

I can’t help but think that it isn’t coincidence that her decline started the month following the disclosure of the affair.  A mistresses desire to inflict as much pain on me and my husband as she could, translated into playing with the emotions of frail seniors by informing them of the details – details that should never have been shared.  Playing G-d made her feel entitled once again to do as she pleased with the lives of others.

In the wake of the affair, as I anticipate one of the largest losses I can imagine, I can’t help but think of the mistress and hate her intensely for trying so hard to steal my husband from me, and now quite possibly taking my mother as well.

Haunted


I’ve been told that I am suffering with a variant of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Given the flashbacks, the physical reactions that I feel to the memories, or the images that run through my head, I believe it.

Learning that your spouse has been unfaithful and that you have been purposefully deceived by the person you trusted most in this world is traumatic, to say the least.  It shakes you to your core, and causes you to reevaluate all of your beliefs, and to question your own judgements.  Your confidence in your relationship, your family, and yourself are all questioned.

Learning the details of what happened serve the immediate “need to know”, and prevents you from imagining scenarios and circumstances that simply never took place, and replacing those self-created “fantasies” with factual data.  While useful in one sense, it is also excrutiatingly painful to hear your spouse described what he did with his mistress, when, and how.  It allows you to create a mental movie in your mind of the events, and gives your mind ammunition with which to flash back to these movies at seemingly random moments throughout your day.

Seemingly innocent things can act as a trigger, reminding you in a split second of your suffering, the affair, the loss.  Looking at the couch that I sat on when he told me.  Where I sat.  Where he sat.  That does it for me.  I can’t sit on that sofa now without thinking of it.  As such, I’ve tucked it into the living room that we rarely use.

Pulling out the journal that I kept for the first few months brings me right back just by looking at the cover.  I will reread the entries now and again, not to remind myself of the pain, but to see how far I’ve come.

One of my greatest triggers is music.  It is sad for me, because music is something that I love.  I consider myself quite musical, having studied music as a child and adolescent, it has a very emotional connection for me.  Music can lift my mood, make me sad, etc.  It has a powerful force for me.  I listen to music for a great part of my day.  Whether I am in the car (I never drive without music playing), or at my computer doing work (also have iTunes playing in the background), music is always with me in some way.  My musical memory for songs is also vast.  I can remember lyrics and elements to songs from my childhood and adolescence like they were yesterday, even if I haven’t heard the song for a decade or more.  It brings me right back to the days when it was a hit on the radio, and in a flash I am that teenage girl sitting on the steps of her highschool watching the boy she pined over throw a football with his friends, wondering what she could do to be noticed.  The feelings flood back immediately, and I am transported right back there.

In the wake of the affair, I spent a great deal of time in profound sadness.  I would drive to and from work, songs playing on the radio, so desperately sad.  I now connect those songs on the radio to the way I was feeling, and hearing them now puts me right back in that place.   Songs I used to enjoy, not carry with them a deep feeling of sadness and despair. I remember vividly the feelings I had, the thoughts running through my mind, or even which intersection I was at the last time I heard it.  Hit songs that dominate the airwaves wax and wane, and soon enough, a hit song goes into a remission.  It disappears for a while.  And then it resurfaces.  When songs from that time come back on the radio, it is immensely painful.

It isn’t only the songs that were current after the affair was disclosed, but also songs that I enjoyed that were popular while he was having his affair.  I can remember sitting in my car, singing along to a song, doing my infamous seat-dancing that I am prone to do when a good song comes on.  I now look back at those moments, and realize that at the time that this particular song was popular, and I was sitting in my car bopping to the tune, my husband was lying to me, deceiving me, and sleeping with another woman.   I can no longer listen to songs from that YEAR without saying to myself “He was having an affair when I used to enjoy this song”, and it strips the shine off of the enjoyment of the song.  I will still sing along to it, and enjoy it, but it will always be there, imprinted and attached forever to it, like a tag.

The worst part about songs, I find, is the lyrics.  I am a romantic at heart, and often relate the lyrics in a song to my own life.  Love songs with their professions of deep caring or turmoil when there is a fight strike a chord with me.  I often find myself thinking: “I know how that feels!”.  I think this happens to a lot of people, and songwriters want their listeners to relate to, and appreciate what they are writing about.  It is kind of like this blog, and how I want my readers to connect with what I am writing, and if a betrayed woman finds this blog, I want her to be able to relate to it, and find comfort in it.   Songs of a broken heart now have a whole new meaning.  Songs of loss and despair ring true in a way I’d never been familiar with before.

Songs about infidelity almost kill me.  3 months into the affair discovery, the song “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri  was released onto iTunes, following its debut as a song on “So you think you can dance”.  It used to take the breath out of me. Now that it is being played many months later on the radio, puts it right in my face.   But, the good thing is that I no longer relate  the lyrics in the same way….I don’t want my husband out of my life.  I now attach these lyrics to her.  She is the one with the heart of stone

Jar of Hearts Video

I know i can’t take one more step towards you
cause all thats waiting is regret
don’t you know i’m not your ghost anymore
you lost the love i loved the most

i learned to live, half alive
and now you want me one more time

who do you think you are?
runnin’ ’round leaving scars
collecting a jar of hearts
tearing love apart
you’re gonna catch a cold
from the ice inside your soul
don’t come back for me
who do you think you are?

i hear you’re asking all around
if i am anywhere to be found
but i have grown too strong
to ever fall back in your arms

ive learned to live, half alive
and now you want me one more time

who do you think you are?
runnin’ ’round leaving scars
collecting a jar of hearts
and tearing love apart
you’re gonna catch a cold
from the ice inside your soul
don’t come back for me
who do you think you are?

it took so long just to feel alright
remember how to put back the light in my eyes
i wish i had missed the first time that we kissed
cause you broke all your promises
and now you’re back
you don’t get to get me back

who do you think you are?
running around leaving scars
collecting a jar of hearts
and tearing love apart
you’re gonna catch a cold
from the ice inside your soul
so don’t come back for me
dont come back at all

x2

who do you think you are?
who do you think you are?
who do you think you are?

As I struggled with the decision with whether to stay in my marriage, I was torn in a way that I’d never experienced.  Staying felt like I was weak. Like I would allow myself to be humiliated, deceived, taken for a ride, and would come back for more.  It seemed like a reward allowing him to stay, allowing him to have his children, his wife, and his life.  I wanted him to hurt.  I wanted him to lose like I had.  I wanted him to be desperate for me.  Asking him to leave meant losing the best friend I’ve ever had.  It meant my children losing access to their father.  It meant losing my partner. I wasn’t prepared for more loss.  I worried that my friends would consider me weak for staying, or judge me.  But I knew where my heart belonged, and made a commitment to do my best to make it work, regardless of what others would say.

I’ve always loved the song “Heaven helps the man (I’m Free)” by Kenny Loggins.  It is the song that plays while the credits roll in Footloose.  Not only do I still love the song, but the lyrics to the song have special meaning for me now.

Heaven Helps the Man (I’m Free) Video

Looking into your eyes I know I’m right
If there’s anything worth my love it’s worth a fight

We only get one chance
But nothing ties our hands
You’re what I want
Listen to me
Nothing I want
Is out of my reach

Chorus
(I’M FREE)
HEAVEN HELPS THE MAN who fights his fear
Love’s the only thing that keeps me here
You’re the reason that I’m hanging on
My heart’s staying where my heart belongs
(I’M FREE)

Running away will never make me free
And nothing we sign is any kind of guarantee
But I wanna hold you now
And I won’t hold you down

I’m shaking the past
Making my breaks
Taking control
If that’s what it takes

Chorus

I long for a time when a simple ride in the car, a hug with my husband, a show on TV won’t transport me into emotional hell.  For now, it is my reality.  I know in time it will let up.   I just can’t wish any more than I do that it comes soon.

Over the hump and happy once more


I was going to call this post “A state of affairs” to talk about the state of my marriage today, but then realized it was a play on the word ‘affair’ and while funny, perhaps not appropriate.  So I erased it, and tried to come up with a post title that would illuminate feeling like we are over the worst part and on the other side – over the hump.  Then I realized that was also a play on words, being over the hump.  Whose hump?  His hump with the mistress?  No.  I will never be over that.  I will never be OVER the fact that he willingly made a choice to sleep with another woman for the greater part of a year, but what I will do is change the way I look at it, and how I look at myself because of it.

I realize that up until now, the blog has been pretty dramatic.  Posts about how I found out, the red flags leading up to it, how she seduced my husband, how she is a stalking psychopath, etc.  I realize that a lot of anger comes out, and can appear as though I am stuck in a very angry place. I want to correct that.  I wanted to write this blog in an orderly fashion, starting at the beginning and making my way through that first year.  But, that is because I am a type A personality, and everything has to make sense, be perfect, laid out in order, etc…. I don’t want this to be that way.  I want this to be a place where I can let that go, and just express myself in whatever order makes me feel better.

I am happy.  I am the happiest I have been for an entire year.  I have been through some very turbulent ups and downs, and it has been pretty rocky at times.  This past winter was probably the hardest point for both of us.  Last spring, when this whole affair came to light, I was in a great state of denial.   It was really hard to believe that the affair happened, considering I am married to a good man. We went through the hysterical bonding that caused us to connect sexually very frequently for a long period of time.  We were connecting sexually which had the side effect of making me feel more connected to my husband, and that I was claiming him back.  Soon, it was summer, and I had family fun to look forward to with vacations, kids out of school, day trips, weekend getaways, etc.  We decided to sell our house and buy a new home in August.  Part of the reason we wanted to move was because we were outgrowing our previous home.  We’d bought it when we had only one child, and now had three, so it was getting tight.  The other reason we wanted to move is because the mistress knew where we lived.  We’d seen a car like hers circling the neighbourhood, and we wouldn’t put it past her to drive by and see what we are up to.  We saw a new house as a fresh start.  The sadness started in late August, right after we moved in.  I had nothing else to “look forward to”.   Summer was coming to a close, the kids were gearing up to go back to school, and the novelty of moving was now behind us.   Deep sadness set in, and it was the start of a very bleak 4 month period that I hope I never revisit.

With ongoing counselling, we are learning a lot about ourselves as individuals, and as a couple, how we throw each other off, how our interrelation and  how we manage our own feelings sets the other person into their own tailspin.  We are learning how to ask for what we need, and how to lovingly provide it to our partner.  It has been a very beneficial undertaking, and one we both look forward to every week.  When we have weeks where someone misunderstands the other, or we find ourselves angry to the point where we simply don’t know how to fix it, we use our appointment as an open forum to pick apart what happened, and learn how to do that for ourselves.

What we’ve come to realize is that we weren’t the “perfect couple” that we thought we were.  Perhaps every couple believes they are the perfect couple, or impermeable to this kind of thing.  We did.  We would go out with other couples, and later remark at how disconnected they appeared to be from one another.  No physical contact, no playful compliments passed back and forth, no flirting, no thoughtful gestures – just co-existence.  We used to talk about how lucky we were to be together, to have found the one true person who made US perfect.  We were disillusioned.  Although we very much love one another, and genuinely LIKE one another, we really didn’t communicate well, and we are learning now how to do that.  It is a hard habit to break, and we fall in often, but we are learning how to get out, and grab onto the other person when things get rocky – something we both are not accustomed to doing.

I think most of my happiness of late comes from the fact that the mistress hasn’t been causing any trouble for us lately.  Yes, she did strike around Valentine’s day, and yes it did cause me to gain back the 8 pounds I had just lost, but since then, nothing remarkable to report.  Perhaps she has settled into mommy-hood and we are no longer her focus, perhaps she has come to realize that all of this fighting, and pushing, and debate saps the energy right out of you.  Maybe she has realized that she has no legal footing to demand more child support, and needs to simply accept that things are the way they are.  It is what it is.  Maybe she has gotten over my husband, or the very idea of being with him.  Although I am sure she still thinks we are unhappy, and that he strayed  because we are not solid, I no longer care as much what she thinks.  I am no longer desperate for her to know.  It is enough for US to know.  I don’t need her approval.  I don’t need her blessing.  I no longer want her head.  I just want US, and I have that.

Seeing the affair through the eyes of a mistress


Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese Military General once said, “Know thine enemy”.  According to him, the best way to defeat a force is to know it well, have an ability to predict its next move, remain one step ahead, and to never be surprised.

I made a decision, about halfway through the last year, that I wanted to better understand the situation from all sides.  We all have a different perspective of what took place, coloured by our experience within that place, and the role that we played.   In our marital therapy, we are learning that true forgiveness for my husband is going to come him stepping into my shoes in order to truly feel what it must have felt like to be me, to be deceived, to be betrayed.  When I am confident that he truly FEELS what it feels like, I will have greater confidence in his fidelity, and our marriage in general.

The act of consciously trying to see the affair through her eyes is a big deal for me because:

  1. I am wounded
  2. I have been betrayed
  3. I hold grudges like nobody’s business

On examining the data as I have it thus far, here is what I see when I look through her lens.  When my interpretations have been informed by factual events, I will indicate so.

She met, and fell for a man who is married.  She probably fell in love, and if not was at the bare minimum deeply attracted (fact).  His reciprocal interest in her, his sharing of personal details that transgressed the boundaries of co-worker, made her feel as though the feelings were reciprocal.  When the mutual attraction was confessed, it quickly escalated into sex. After that first sexual encounter, she probably felt intensely satisfied, like she had somehow snagged her catch.  The bait was working, and she was slowly seeing her desires come into view.  Trying to maintain a professional relationship at work while secretly involved in a relationship with a co-worker probably ignited a wave of excitement as well, amplifying the effects of the endorphin rush that accompanies the start of a new relationship.  It probably felt magical.  Here she was, sleeping with a wonderful man, who has great earning potential, but is simultaneously also kind, warm, sweet, sensitive, and compassionate.  He likes shopping, fine dining, travel, will watch chick flicks of his own accord – I mean, what is NOT to like?  I get it…I like him too 🙂

Even though she had proposed the exit clause for each of them, when he asked to use it a couple of months into it, she felt hurt.  She was enjoying what they had together, but it didn’t quite feel normal.  She longed for dinners out, time together outside of work, a REAL relationship.  She accused him of using her for sex( fact), and told him that she didn’t want to have sex at the office anymore (fact) – she wanted to go somewhere private, so they hooked up at hotels. I can’t imagine that didn’t feel cheap for her, but it was better than the office. The threat of possibly losing him led her to feel that she had to do something to prevent him from leaving.  Knowing that he was in a vulnerable place because he was being unfaithful to his wife, she knew that she could hold this over his head, and manipulate the situation to her advantage.  Worried that it may not be enough, she turned up the degree by simultaneously painting herself in a highly desirable light by inventing a boyfriend on the side (fact), and talking about how much male attention she gets. She did this, of course, so that he would believe her to be desirable. I mean, if all of these others guys see something in her, then it must be there…right? Not when they don’t exist. She figured that these lies, couples with the threat to tell me would keep him where she wanted him. It worked for a little while, as he remained in the relationship and didn’t make regular requests to “end it”.  Whenever he did, she felt threatened, and turned up the heat again, using the best tactic she had – the threat of disclosure to me.

When they stopped having sex for a few months, she was likely worried that they were returning to “just friends”, or “co-workers”.  She knew she wanted to be with him, and she had tried everything possible to make herself desirable enough in his eyes that he would want to be with her willingly, but it wasn’t working.  He was remaining with his wife, and there was no indication that he was ever going to leave, or tell me.  Feeling that she was going to be playing second fiddle in this relationship, she decided that a pregnancy would be the best way to hang onto him.   She went off her birth control pills.  Having his baby would mean that they would be forever linked.  If this was never about attraction, and only a money grab, a baby would then be a guaranteed meal ticket. She initiated sex with him in February, and conceived a child. Yay her.

When he said that he didn’t want another baby, and wasn’t prepared to be involved in the life of another child, she stated that she would terminate the pregnancy – kill her child – if he would confess the affair to me and leave his family (fact).  Unprepared to lose his family, she said that perhaps she might keep the baby, that she was undecided (fact).  In any case, she said that would raise the child alone, if need be, and would never ask him for a single penny (fact) (sorry but I find this statement laughable since she is currently doing her best to milk us out of every penny she can).  Convincing him that he was going to lose me either way (either he would tell me and leave, or she would tell me and I would kick him out), she rehearsed how he would tell me, and they set a date for when.  The brass ring was in sight, all shiny and ready to be grabbed.  Victory, as she saw it, would soon be hers. and she would finally have the man she wanted, free and clear of the encumbrances of his family, and they could start the relationship that she had always hoped for.  Excited that the man she loved would soon be hers, and believing that his willingness to confess meant that he too wanted to be with her, it was merely days away, and he would be hers.

When she texted him the morning after he was supposed to have told me, she thought her early morning text would come fresh on the heels of the devastation and that she could ride in, and save him from the flames.  When he told her that he’d actually told me 2 days earlier, she was alarmed that he was still at home, and happily playing with his children as if nothing had happened. When he told her that I was also there, and that things were fine, I imagine she was incredibly sad and very angry.  She now felt the sting of betrayal.  The plan that she thought they both wanted wasn’t coming to fruition, and had been foiled by the fact that neither of them had anticipated what move I would make.  My unwillingness to throw away my marriage and kick my husband out was a wild card that neither one anticipated would be played.  It came as a shock to them both. For him, it was a relief.  For her, it was devastating.  Reacting on anger, she immediately started doing what she does best: threatening.  It was her way of acting out in the wake of losing the relationship she wanted and she saw ME as the reason it would never be.  She was furious with me, and now she had a baby on the way, and no one to help care for it, or her.

The way she saw it, he loved her and wanted to be with her.  He’d turned away from his wife, and turned toward her.  That could only mean that he loved her, and not me, right?  He’d had sex with her, so it meant he loved her, right? This falls in line with the Myths of Infidelity I wrote about earlier. In her mind, the feelings were mutual, and then suddenly, they weren’t.  She’d been deceived, or maybe, just maybe, she had miscalculated the depth of what this relationship was really about, and made it into more than it ever was.

I understand her feelings, and what has led her to do what she has done.  I understand that she has been hurt.  I understand that she has inappropriately directed her anger at me, when it really should be directed at herself for getting involved. She has to demonize me in her mind in order to justify her actions to herself. Women are possessive, and she felt she owned him, and had rights to him. Knowing that he was coming home every night to me – to my bed – was probably unbearable for her. In fact, she became most crazy when we were on vacations together, in which case she would text like crazy, and turn up the threats if she didn’t hear back from him immediately. She wanted him hanging on the end of the line for her every text. He wasn’t, and that drove her nuts. On the nights after they’d been together, in order to remain connected to him when he was safely returned ‘home’, she texted him all night, probably to interfere with anything he and I might be up to. She wants to believe I am the reason that they aren’t together, when in fact my husband never asked to leave – he asked me to take him back, if I wanted to. I would like to say that she should also be angry at my husband for deceiving her, but he didn’t.  He told her many times how he felt, explained that it was just sex, and not love, professed his love for his family, and his desire to not lose us.  She refused to hear any of it, and believed instead what made her feel better: that he loved her and wanted a relationship with her.  That he would leave me to be with her, and that they would have a baby together, and live happily ever after.  She sees me as the reason that he is not with her, when he made it perfectly clear to her that if he and I were no longer together, that he would not be with her.  He told her that if he were not married to me, he would be married to no one.  I don’t think she can be angry at him when he made it perfectly clear.

In the end, I feel very badly for her.  I think she is in a horrible situation, and was too naive to see it clearly.  She chose to have a child, thinking that it would bring my husband closer to her, and is now raising a baby on her own. Perhaps she also had a fantasy, as we all do, about motherhood being blissful, with a little person to love you, and it is all rainbows and butterflies, and then 48 hours into it, having logged two sleepless nights, you realize it isn’s the picnic you thought it was, except unlike me, she is doing it alone.  I do sometimes wonder if she feels any regret.  I wonder if she will take the time to try and see the situation through my eyes, to realize the depths of what she has done, the degree to which her actions have caused so much hurt, so much pain, so much trauma.   Will she take the time to consider anyone else’s perspective, and will she see where she has been wrong, or will she be blinded by her own sense of self-righteousness?  I guess I will never know.

I suspect she is a very hurt inside and longs for someone to love her. She needs and craves love and attention, and believes that the only way to get it is to manipulate. I suspect love never came easily to her, and she’s had to fight for it her whole life – it is what she knows. She fell into a situation that was way above her head, and made poor decisions without considering the collateral damage. She was selfishly focused on herself, and still is. She has, thus far, provided no indication of remorse for what she has done to me, or tried to do to my children. I feel badly that she will raise this child alone, and will suffer the pains of single parenting. This is a choice she brought upon herself, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult to bear. I wish the best for the child who is an innocent victim of choices made by two people who should have known better.

A letter of comfort and understanding for those betrayed


You’ve just discovered your husband has been unfaithful.  I want to wrap my arms around you and tell you that I understand, that I know how badly you hurt right now, how hopeless you feel.  What you are going through is arguably one of the hardest things to endure.  Unlike a death which has some finality to it, the loss of a spouse is one that permeates your life, and feels as though it extends forever.  Let me tell you now that it won’t.  You WILL heal.  You WILL get through.  I will not sugar coat the facts, and tell you that the road ahead of you will be easy, or that healing will come with little effort and perseverance on your part.  This next year will be one of the most confusing, painful, emotionally charged, and physically draining times you ever spend.

You are likely experiencing a whirlwind of emotions.  You are angry and you have every right to be.  The one in whom you have placed all of your trust has betrayed you.  The sexual intimacy which was so important to you has been stolen by another.  Whether your partner’s mistress was aware of you and your marriage won’t change the fact that you were sharing your husband with another woman, and the reality of that is excruciating.  You likely want to know every single detail of the affair.  When, where, who, how and most importantly of all WHY?  You may never get a satisfying answer to that last on.  If you have asked him why and he says he doesn’t know, please be patient – he may not yet be aware of why.  The reasons why men cheat varies., and he will need to do some introspective self-evaluation of the time preceding and during the affair to learn more about what was going on inside his mind at the time, and the constellation of factors that came together to cause that outcome.  It isn’t as simple as we women like to believe it to be, so let me get this out of the way for you now: It isn’t because you aren’t beautiful.  It isn’t because you aren’t thin enough.  It isn’t because you aren’t smart enough.  It isn’t because you aren’t satisfying in bed.  It isn’t because you’re old, because of your crow’s feet, or because sometimes you order dinner in.  In fact, the reason that he cheated has more to do with HIM than it does with YOU.  He chose his mistress not because she is prettier than you, because if statistics mean anything, she isn’t.  You feel picked over, but you need to realize that she wasn’t picked because she holds any distinct advantage over you.  She was successful in attracting your husband because of what was going on in HIS mind at the time, his own personal difficulties and how she made him FEEL.  She may have stroked his ego, made him feel important, distinguished, powerful, intelligent, successful.  Regardless of how it came to be, chances are that it had very little to do with you.

Whether the affair was unearthed because of a disclosure from your spouse or because you discovered it, my hope for you is that your husband is prepared for what lies ahead.  I hope that he has laid all of his cards on the table, been completely honest, and that he is answering all of your questions openly and with honesty.

You will have to decide whether you want to know all of the intimate details of the affair, or whether a vague glossing over will satsify you.  Perhaps you want to know how many times they were sexually intimate and in what settings.  If that doesn’t satisfy you, perhaps you also want to know how they had sex, what kinds of sex they had, whether he enjoyed it, whether she did.  Both options have consequences that you need to be able to foresee before you walk down that path.  Finding out the skeleton details might leave you always wondering what else there was.  It may lead you to finding out the details in a slower, more drawn-out way that sucks the life out of you each time a new detail is revealed.  You will also know that there are details and events in the affair that are still unknown to you, leaving you feeling as though you are still “in the dark”.  You might fill in the missing details with inaccurate ones, possibly causing yourself more grief when you think about painful events that never took place.  On the other hand, finding out all of the nitty gritty details will give you the peace of mind of knowing that you know as much about the affair as he does, putting you on, what feels like, more even ground.  The consequence to this choice is that with all of this information, you will now create visual movies of the events, as they played out, and they will play in looped-mode over and over again in your mind.  They are hard to erase.

You will need to decide whether this is a deal-breaker to your marriage, or whether you are strong enough to weather the storms that lie ahead.  Are you willing to fight for your marriage?  Do you want to get down to the core of why and how this happened, and walk away with a better understanding of yourself and your partner?  Would you and your partner consider marital therapy?

You will want to gather a support system around you of people you trust with the delicate issues you are facing.  No matter how tempting it feels to want to drag your husband’s name through the mud, it will not serve you well to tell more people than is necessary.  Tell only those people who are, as Shirley Glass calls them in her book “Not Just Friends”, “friends of the marriage”.  Glass defines ‘friends of the marriage’ as those who wish your marriage to succeed.  They are those who will support you non-judgmentally without trying to bias your decisions due to their own issues.  If you are ready, seek out a marital therapist who has a special interest in affair recovery.  If approved by your marital therapist, seek out an individual therapist to work on the issues that face you.  If there is a support group in your area, consider joining one to tell your story.  If no such support group exists, write a blog, keep a journal, share that journal with your husband.  Let him read it and respond.

Do something that nourishes your soul.  Run. join an exercise program, perhaps arrange for a weekly coffee meet-up with other women.  Try to do at least one thing every week that forces you to think and talk about something OTHER than the affair.  It will allow you to feel a sense of the lost normalcy you once had before the affair permeated your life.  Don’t isolate yourself.  Recovering from an affair can be a very isolating experience, especially if you haven’t found a local support group, if friends live far away, or if you’ve chosen to keep this private.

Finally, know that you are not alone.  Statistics, unfortunately, reveal that infidelity is very common. You have joined an elite club of women where none of us sought membership,  but we are all joined.  We feel, we hurt, we grapple, and we understand.  I am here to tell you that you WILL get through this, you will wake up one morning without the immediate desire to cry, you will find yourself and your partner again.  Do your best, don’t set your expectations for healing, and know that you will arrive when you arrive.  It isn’t a race, and there aren’t any winners.  When you get there, you will have gained a perspective that at this moment, you cannot fathom. Do the best that you can, and remember that there is always someone that cares about you, will listen to you, and wants the best for you.  I am one of them.

Debunking the myths of infidelity


In both my reading on the topic of infidelity and in my casual polls taken among friends, it seems there are many myths that come with the territory of infidelity.  Some of these myths are held by women, some by men, and some by both.   Some are held by mistresses, some by wives.  I’ve learned a lot this past year, and thought I would go over some of the more popular myths that exist and debunk them.

1. Affairs only happen in unhappy marriages.

While this does tend to be the reason why women cheat, it doesn’t usually apply to men.  Men who live in very happy, sexually fulfilling marriages have affairs.  For women, this is hard to understand because we equate love with sex, and if he is having sex with someone else, he must not love me.  Believe it or not, this isn’t true.  I wouldn’t have believed it a few years ago, if I hadn’t been on this journey myself.  I am sure his affair partner felt that he loved her.  As a woman, her paradigm is to believe that sex=love and so he must love her.  False.  He did, by his own admission, tell her he loved her in the midst of an orgasm, something he immediately regretted as the blood flowed back to the brain that has the higher functions of reasoning and intelligent thought.  Idiot.  I digress…

Women who are unfaithful have usually already fallen out of love with their partners, and have emotionally disconnected.  For many women, then, they feel they can justify their behaviour because to them, the relationship was already over – even if he didn’t know it yet.

Men have the ability to compartmentalize sex and love.  The two can coexist together, as they do when a man loves his wife, but they need not coexist all the time.  Men can have sex with a woman for the sake of the physical release it will bring, and nothing more.  Men don’t have to find her beautiful (although it helps if you have something nice to look at), and they don’t have to find her intelligent.   If you are the mistress, and your relationship isn’t a deep emotional connection, but just sex, then chances are he isn’t looking for you to satisfy his need for intelligent conversation – you fulfill a very basic need- sex.  That’s it.  You might as well wear a t-shirt that reads: “Have Vagina, will travel”.

2. Men cheat more than women.

As a society, men tend to be more outwardly sexual in nature than women, so we have an easier time justifying men’s behaviour when they stray, and assuming that they do it more often.  Men’s brains are very different from women’s, and they are hardwired to sexually pursue QUANTITY, while women look for QUALITY.

While the stats for infidelity may be tipped slightly more in favour of men, it is the REASONS for the infidelity that differ.  Women cheat because they are no longer satisfied in the relationship.  What was once a satisfying relationship has lost its glimmer, and it is safe to say that most women who cheat have already emotionally abandoned their primary relationship.  With men, this is not the case.  Men can be completely satisfied in their relationship, having frequent and great sex at home, and still take the opportunity to get a little more on the side, if the opportunity presents itself, and there is a low likelihood of getting caught.  He may be getting fine dining at home, but a little dessert would also be nice….especially if I won’t gain weight.

One key thing to realize is the different ways in which men and women view sex, and how these views allow them to cheat for different reasons.  More on that in a future post.

3. An affair is about sex.

An affair involves sex, but it is usually never ABOUT sex.  People don’t seek out affairs to get more sex, or to have better sex.  Sex is simply the natural progression that happens when someone seeks out a new relationship with someone of the opposite sex.  For men, sex is like a sport; something you enjoy that invigorates you, makes you feel energized, potent, alive.  For men, there need be no emotional connection whatsoever, and it has very little, if anything to do with love or emotion.  We’ve all heard someone say “He’ll have sex with anything that has a pusle”, and for many men, this may very well be accurate.  Men simply need an outlet, and who it is, or what she looks like has little bearing on why she was chosen.   Men don’t need love for sex, or sex for love – they need sex for sex.  Whether you are beautiful or smart won’t really matter….whether you are sexually available at the time will have much more of an impact.

So, if affairs aren’t about sex, what are they about, and what purpose do they serve?

Often times, men report that it wasn’t the sex that made them stray.  It wasn’t the beauty, intelligence, warmth, compassion, or personality of the woman he strayed with.  It was something about how he was FEELING while he cheated, and how the other woman made him FEEL when they are together.  The rush and the exhileration of knowing that they are doing something forbidden causes an endorphin rush, which amplifies and creates a rosy glow (can you say rose-coloured-glasses?) over the entire relationship.  She probably showers him with compliments, boosts his ego, tells him how smart he is, how powerful he is, how strong, fit, and capable he is…something that perhaps his wife doesn’t do as much as she used to now that their relationship has settled into a comfortable pattern.  Just like women need and want continuous feedback that they are valued, men also need this, although most won’t admit it.  They want to be told they are attractive, sexy, a great lover.  In marriages, however, we settle into a pattern of comfort and security and no longer shower each other with these compliments, even if we DO feel them. I guess the difference is that when women need to hear it, we find ways of encouraging our lovers to tell us, while men feel foolish doing so.  So, if a man is feeling needy for that kind of attention, he may never provide any clues.  So keep the compliments flowing…that is even more important than being sexually available – it tells him he’s important to you, that you love him, and that he still ignites that spark for you.

4. If a man is having an affair, it is due to a deficiency in the wife, aesthetically or sexually, and the mistress is seen as superior in these areas.

While this will always be the case for SOMEONE, it isn’t the case most of the time.  As per the above answers, men aren’t looking to improve upon anything, and having sex with the mistress didn’t mean there was a competition in his mind between the two.  Just like sex and love are mutually exclusive, so are the wife and the mistress.  So, if your husband cheated on you, it doesn’t mean he didn’t and doesn’t love you.  If you are a mistress to a married man, just because he is having sex with you does NOT mean that he loves you or wants to be with you long term.  You’re scratching a temporary itch, and yes he is having sex with his wife and enjoying it, which brings us to the next myth:

5. A married man engaged in an affair isn’t having sex with his wife.

This is completely false, although I am sure most mistresses would like to believe it.  Most affair partners are shocked to discover that the man they thought they were ‘stealing’ and ‘one-upping’ from the wife is actually engaging in regular sexual activity with her.  In some cases, he may be having more sex with his wife than with the mistress – she just doesn’t know it.  Married men sleep with their mistresses and return home to their marital bed every night.  They snuggle in with their spouse, they say “I love you” before rolling over, they hold each other in their sleep.   In fact, because an affair boosts a man’s self esteem so much, many have reported returning home from their rendez-vous with invigorated, excited, and ready to make LOVE to their wife.  Therein lies another main difference….he fucks the mistress, he makes love to his wife.  It makes sense because that is what each relationship is based on – casual meaningless sex vs sex for love.

Now that isn’t the case in ALL extra-marital relationships.  Some marital relationships may very well be on the rocks, and a man MAY turn to a mistress to satisfy the sexual needs that aren’t being met at home.  But, this isn’t ALWAYS the case, and certainly wasn’t the case for us.  We are very much “in love”, exchange kisses each morning before we part ways for work, affectionately greet each other when we return at the end of the day, find reasons to tell each other that we love one another, exchange playful sexual advances like we did when we were dating. But, I would wager a bet that his mistress wouldn’t believe it if he told her.  In fact, he DID tell her, and she didn’t believe it.  She accused him of being delusional, and then painted her own story that matched what she wanted to believe.

My husband made every attempt to paint a very clear picture for her about what this was for him.  “This is only about sex for me”, he’d said.  I was shocked to hear him say that because this isn’t something that I ever would have imagined him saying.  My husband is one of the most emotionally sensitive men that I know, and he very much equates love and sex….when it is between US.  “I love my wife”, “I love my children”, “I love and want my family”, “I don’t love you”.  All of these comments were met with resistance.  Resistance to believe that it could be true, when all of the signs she was seeing were pointing to the opposite.  I can’t blame her for thinking that – she is a woman and we equate sex with love…and that belief gets both the mistress and the affair partner into trouble inside their own minds when evaluating the affair and what it really meant.

In Shirley Glass’ book, “Not just friends”, she writes: “A distraught wife said to her husband, “How could you do this to me? You always looked down on those men who had affairs and broke up their family.”  The husband replied…”I was always committed to you.  I never once intended to leave you.”  She was enraged. “What do you mean you were committed?  How could you be committed when you had sex with another woman?”. He answered, “It never meant anything” (Emphasis added)

6. If a married man is having sex with his mistress, he must love her.  If he isn’t having sex with his wife, he must not love his wife.  He has chosen the mistress over the wife.

If I have learned any ONE great truth out of this whole year of discovery, it is that the differences between men and women are staggering.  We are so vastly different, and the ways in which we see and evaluate relationships is remarkably different.  We can’t evaluate a relationship with a man through OUR eyes, because our eyes are female.  The opposite is true for men.  We simply aren’t hard-wired to understand it from their perspective. Sometimes it takes a crisis to propel you to a place where you are forced to look at it, examine it, and understand it, and for that I am thankful to have had that opportunity – it has been life-changing.

When I first learned that my husband had had an affair, my initial thought was “he doesn’t love me anymore”.  For women, sex and love go hand in hand.  Women want to feel love in order to have sex (prostitutes and manipulative mistresses are the exception…but even then, deep inside they long for a loving connection too).  If we feel love, we will have sex, so if a man has sex with us, it means he loves us – right?  Wrong.  Men have sex for sex. It has nothing to do with love or emotion.  Men have the ability to compartmentalize sex into its own category, and love and emotion are not required.  A man can have sex with you without feeling an ounce of love.  A man feels no guilt about engaging in loveless sex because the two are mutually exclusive.  This is why he can have sex with the mistress and still LOVE HIS WIFE.

Once I learned and understood that he was capable of separating the two, it became much easier to understand his perspective and regain the faith that he may still love me.  There was a chance for us after all.

7. The mistress must be more attractive/smarter/more fit/more beautiful than the wife.

This is rarely the case.  In all of the reading that I have done, rarely is the mistress more beautiful than the wife.  Sometimes she is younger, but usually not prettier.  Because women fret about their appearance, and because we know men are visual creatures, our first fear is “he found someone prettier than me”.  This is rarely ever the case.

When my husband first made mention of this woman at work who was now working closely with him, my first comment was “oh a blonde woman working with my husband, should I be worried?”, said with a smile.  He replied with: “Oh goodness no, absolutely not, she isn’t even slightly attractive to me”.  Now, of course you are thinking “well he told you that at the time because he was DECEIVING you”, and I would agree, except that he still says it now.   When we talk about what led him to being with her sexually, he is stunned that he ever strayed towards her.  He doesn’t find her physically attractive or sexually attractive, he has no memory of what she looked like naked except for the fact that she had breast enlargement surgery and corrective surgery for inverted nipples.  He remembers these things because he found them odd, and yes, my husband prefers natural breasts thank you. The sex was “nothing special”, “not very good”, and he doesn’t remember any details about the actual sexual interactions they had together.

According to Shirley Glass, in her book “Not Just Friends”, she states that “outside observers will speculate unfairly and ignorantly that the betrayed wife must have been inadequate in the bedroom.

8. Once a cheater, always a cheater

This is one where there is no absolute answer. Heck, there isn’t an absolute answer to ANYTHING, but this one is truly variable.  Because men cheat for various reasons, the things that keep them cheating or not also vary.  If a man is incapable of fidelity, and has an inability to commit, then yes, he will likely re-offend.  When the infidelity is the result of a deeply seeded problem within him, it will take time and commitment to reversing it.  If it was an unfortunate set of circumstances that led him to make choices he normally would never make, or if he was in some way coerced or assisted by the affair partner into starting a relationship, that’s different.

When a man makes a pledge towards honesty, confesses the affair, and lays all of his cards on the table for scrutiny and examination, he has taken the first step towards earning back your trust.  Instead of more lies and covering up, he has chosen to tell you, and that is a good start.  When he chooses to enter therapy in order to better understand himself, you, your relationship and why the relationship was vulnerable to an affair, he is showing an interest in identifying and fighting the demons that led him down the affair path.  When he listens, when he cries with you, when he takes responsibility for what he has caused and feels true remorse, and when he puts himself into your shoes to feel what you are feeling, and to grasp the intensity of the pain that he has caused, you can now say that he truly GETS IT.  I would venture to guess that someone who knows the pain of infidelity from the other side, and who respects and loves the person to whom he is married, will not want to hurt her that way again…especially if he wasn’t aware, at the time, of the impact his actions were having.

Men can cheat once and never again.  Some men are serial cheaters.  Not all men.

9. Men initiate almost all affairs

Obviously in cases where the wife is the cheater, this doesn’t apply.  This response will be directed to married men having affairs. I think it can be true that men will seek out an affair, but I don’t believe that a man wakes up one morning, and says “Today, I am going to seek out a woman whom I can engage in an extramarital affair”.  It isn’t as much a CHOICE as it is a CIRCUMSTANCE they find themselves in.  Men who find themselves in affairs, sometimes do, not because they were actively seeking it out, but rather a set of circumstances presented themselves in such a way, at such a time when a man was vulnerable to an affair.

In our case, my husband did not seek out his affair.  He was ‘befriended’ by a woman at work, who soon became privy to the emotional turmoil he was going through.  Casting herself as his “friend”, and as his “ativan”, she justified her overly-caring behaviour as part of her ‘loving, caring, compassionate nature’.  Looking back at it now, my husband sees her approaches disguised as ‘friendly banter’ through a more informed lens, and feels conned.   Interesting when the betrrayer also feels betrayed.

My husband’s mistress set her sights on him early, and he was a target.  We are convinced that if it hadn’t been him, it would be some other high-earning professional in his office.  She set her sights on him, knew what she wanted, and made it happen.  She knew men love sex, so she outwardly professed to “never getting enough to be satisifed”, and how she would have sex “8-10 times a day if possible”. She catered to his male side, and painted herself as “every man’s dream”; sexually available, sexually interested, and no strings attached.  Unless you define a purposeful pregnancy which resulted in a baby, an attempted collapse of your family, manipulative threats toward your family and professional mobility, and a monthly child-support payment “no strings”, you’re right on.  Women who see what they want and go after it are very easily capable of igniting an affair with a man, as long he is in the right place from a ‘vunerability’ standpoint.

10. Infidelity means the end of a marriage.

I, and countless other women are proof that this is not the case.  Don’t get me wrong, this is the hardest road I have ever traveled, and I’ve logged many miles soaked in tears, but I will survive this, and our marriage will be better because we’ve been through it.  A compassionate and understanding husband who takes responsibility for his actions, open and honest communication, marital therapy to assist couples in communicating effectively and filling the potholes which made their marriage vulnerable – all of these things assist a couple in rebuilding the trust and intimacy of their marriage.  I am sure at one point, or maybe even at many points, I considered our marriage to be “over”, unsalvageable, irreparable.  With time I am starting to see that this affair, his infidelity and this crisis may simply be a catalyst for a new beginning.

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