How does infidelity effect a betrayed spouse?

Why does infidelity hurt so much? Betrayed spouses who have worked with me over the years in both private counseling, and with their unfaithful partners have all shared one common statement, “I never thought he/she would cheat on me.”

For the betrayed spouse, life stood still on the day of disclosure. Everyday from that point is a painful struggle. Trying to make sense of their shattered relationship, and somehow carry on with daily life is, at times, unbearable.

Some of my clients have agreed to share their notes and thoughts on this page, to share what life is really like for the betrayed spouse after infidelity.

No I can not forgive him again I believed him & trusted him back then only so they can trick me & conspired against me. I was the one on the outside of the circle God forgives if you repent and promise not to make the same mistake again and (husband) repeated the mistake

I have done the forgiveness homework you gave us, and I really think that this might be a turning point. I’m excited about that. We have decided to do our Tower of Forgiveness during our date night on the 14th. Female

Office Manager, Las Vegas

Had a devastating blow in my life, I’m trying to pick up the pieces and make sense of the pain, hurt caused by betrayal. Val

House wife , Married 43 years

How do you forget, forgive, or ever be happy when the man you married was unfaithful to you for such a long time What does he want from from me? Betrayed Wife

Family Lawyer, Las Vegas

It’s so hard to forget. So hard. Impossible. I can’t believe these two people had this conspiracy going for such a long time. I hate them. I can’t F believe that he has done all that!

A betrayed wife’s pain….

I have been going thru my photo stream for the past hour and a half. I get stuck on pictures, remembering times over the past year, trying to remember details of the day, feelings I had, picturing you, in OUR life, trying to figure out what was going thru your mind at the time. What your feelings were. How you felt about me. How you REALLY felt about me at the time. I feel lost. I feel devastated. I feel shock. And none of these sentiments will ever encompass what I truly feel. The complete loss of faith in my marriage and family. My loss of faith in US. Sure, I can still count on you to take care of the kids, get up in the middle of the night and go buy a thermometer, go pick up some bread it the morning. But how will I EVER be able to count on you for what I really need- to feel loved, honored, cherished, valued, noticed, above all others?! You went outside our marriage, for many things. You shared details of our lives with someone else, you brought someone else into what I would consider OUR life. You shared pictures of our kids and details of our daily life with someone for whom you had strong feelings and misguided intentions. You shared yourself with someone other than me, in every way that you should have been with ONLY me. I feel violated. I feel like you let someone else infiltrate OUR family, take over a place that should not have existed for anybody other than me. The betrayal is deep, deeper than I think you realize. While you may believe that this was not as meaningful to you as you may have led HER to believe, or even yourself for a while, it is painfully meaningful to me. I don’t think you really believe this is as big as it is. I truly feel that you do not realize the full magnitude of what you have done. I think because you may convince yourself that SHE, or the others, do not (have not) meant that much to you, that they will not mean that much to me. I am writing to tell you that they do. They ALL mean a lot to me. They mean the loss of US. You have allowed others to infiltrate our marriage, to come between us, to interrupt our family, to wedge in deep in a place that should only ever have been for you and me. I feel great loss for US – for you and me. I no longer feel part of US. I do not feel special, loved, cherished, honored, trusted, valued. I do not even feel LIKED. I go over a million things in my mind. There was never once a warning sign to me. There is not one thing from that time, back in December of 2012, that would ever lead me to believe that this outcome was even possible. Let alone the times before. This last I focus on, because it is fresh, because YOU did not even end it. I did. And I think this has devastated you. I think you mourn the loss of your other life and are grasping at straws for this life and all that remains. And I am the one holding all the cards. THIS IS WHAT I FEEL. I wonder whether I will ever be truly loved again. I wonder whether I ever have been. I question all that ever was. I don’t know what is real, what HAS been real. I feel like a sham. I feel like a lie. An unknowing part of a huge lie. How could I not see this? How could I not guess your feelings for someone else? How could I let this happen to me??!! How could I be living so close to you, sleeping with you every night, and have no clue as to what has been going on? Will I ever trust my judgement again? Will I ever let down my guard? Doubtful. You have caused a deep hurt in me. A deep, deep wound that I doubt will ever truly heal. I don’t know if you can hurt anyone worse than this. I know you don’t see this as I do. I know you think because you have feelings for me still (whatever they are) that it will make, or should make, something salvageable. That some time and therapy will fix this. We can never go back to what we had. That marriage is gone. That trusting, loving, committed wife is gone. The husband I thought I had was apparently never really there. Not sure what I thought I married into exactly, but certainly NOT this. I would never have pictured this as my life in a million years. I would never in a million years have thought YOU capable of doing THIS to ME. But I was wrong. Apparently wrong on many things. You HAVE done this to me. You have done this to US. You have broken us. Broken us completely.

From the Unfaithful Husband……

We are in a very bad spot right now. Last night was very bad. We told the kids we were working on some parent problems we are having and my 12 year old son instantly lost it. We comforted him and said we are working on it, but you can tell he is really impacted. Seeing him like this really made me realize the gravity of the situation I have caused. Thanks again for all your time and thought to us. (Wife) has a lot of time available to her to go over all the details over the past year and she has an amazing memory and is making connections with what happened. On the other hand I have a horrible memory and when I don’t remember explicit details, or the details she wants, it angers her further.

Savannah was truly Godsend. Her insight and calm, comforting, attentive, personable support helped me tremendously through the process. My spouse and I connected with her very easily. She helped me understand what I couldn’t understand. She has been incredibly helpful; words would not be enough. I strongly recommend anyone going through a difficult time to make that initial call and you will see.

The struggle to understand “Why”

Savannah, We read over your email, followed the “rules” and respectfully gave each other 20min last nite. Then i asked a few questions, to which i still don’t feel i get truly genuine answers. I feel like I get answers that “may help in his case.” I know i shed some light, however brief, on what happened in his childhood. But here is the thing- we have been together a LONG time. We were together for 5 yrs before we married, and really another 4.5 before the first affair. We have spoken of his childhood extensively. We have discussed at length the wrongs done by his father. We made it CLEAR that BOTH of us never wanted to have anything to do with those types of life choices. And I say choices because that is in essence what they are – choices. To do or not to do. To cheat or not to cheat. To be faithful or to be an adulterer. He chose – MANY times over – to cheat, to lie, and to engage in activities outside of our marriage. While you may be able to pinpoint a “stress” in his life that triggered this first affair (our daughter’s illness), I can NOT for the life of me find reasons for the others. Life has generally been good to/ for us. I have reasonable expectations on a happy life- what makes a fulfilling life (health, loving marriage, family, children, friends, financially fine…) and i would have said that Reece concurred. He would likely have said that MY expectations were not even as basic as his (meaning it takes very little to make him happy). Life was very good around early December of 2012(beginning of last affair). Regardless of what was to come, healthwise for me, upon embarking on that relationship, all was VERY well in his world. We had a great family vacation in August (he spoke of this last nite in his monologue), school year started off great for the kids, everyone was in good health, both our friendships were fun & fulfilling, and the time we did spend together as a couple was loving, 99% harmonious, sexual (not quite as often as he would like, no doubt- but is it EVER for a man?!?!) and active. We have enjoyed DOing things together as a couple as you would with a best friend. Swimming, running, occasionally biking, going for coffee, attending family/ kids events together, etc. I would have said we lead very busy lives, but that as a couple and as a family we ALL still spent a lot of that busy time together and that we all really enjoy that time we spend together. Here is where opinions would differ. I am/ have always been pushing for more “couple time.” I would always be pressing for more date nites (nothing major- dinner, a movie, just COUPLE time without the kids) He would agree, but not really do much to make it a priority. And this is my mistake- I allowed him to put in ZERO effort with me. I see clearly the hoops he is willing to jump thru, the time he is willing to make, the money he is readily spending, on other women. He has always been expressive with his words, verbally and written, ALWAYS writing me cards to express feelings, love , etc. And this I have truly always appreciated (a well written love letter has always trumped jewelry, gifts, etc for me) Until now. Now I read these words for what they truly are – manipulations. Manipulations of my feelings. Here is the kicker – #4 – (the lover)- gets the cards, love letters, AND the gifts, jewelry, grandiose plans, dinners, conversation, time, etc. The effort(HE) put into her shames me. It makes me realize how i was satisfied with so little. I WAS the wife who wanted her husband. Right up to that moment where he chose someone else… And I still wanted him. I Allowed him to be distant and unfeeling at times. I Allowed him to be utterly unsupportive at my times of great need. I allowed him to be distracted from our ENTIRE life, without question, for almost a year. There were many times lately, I would say beginning in early fall, that I called him on this. The zoning out, the distraction, the attachment to his phone (her), the lack of engagement with ALL of us…I brought this to his attention MANY times. (So yes- I GAVE you wake-up calls!!!) December was the worst- i could write a story on Christmas alone as his selfish and impatient behavior extended beyond me to our children and his parents who were visiting from Canada. This began the moment I had trouble finding them at the airport. I was sincerely worried for them- he was angry and annoyed beyond reason with them. This was somewhat of an eye-opener for me. I have NEVER seen this type of behavior from him, especially directed at his parents (adoring, doting, loving – mum & step-dad for over 30yrs). My point… Things in OUR relationship have definitely changed, but I can pinpoint exact time of change- from good to bad…. From the moment he began his affair with #4. There have actually been some really good times for US mixed up in that whole affair. Many chances for him to question what he was doing and steer his course back on track (ie: end the affair on HIS terms). He did not choose this. He did not once choose ME. He many times chose HER (and not just over me, he chose to fly off to be with her on our daughter’s 6th bday- missing it entirely. WHO does that?!?!?) He chose to check out of his family entirely this past xmas- he was completely wrapped up in his world with her- xxx). Forgive me- i am having a really tough time trying to wrap my head around the WHYs for any of this behaviour. Betrayed Wife 17 years Married

What is happening now is that we’ve been in a relationship for just over 5 years. We pledged monogamy, in fact, my partner made it very clear multiple times that monogamy was essential. I have been completely monogamous, but I caught him in an affair almost exactly a year ago. He swore that he broke it off. I discovered on labor day weekend that, not only had the affair resumed, but his lover had bought the house across the street and had been living there for months unbeknownst to me. I am now being told that he wants a polyamorous relationship and it is being presented on pretty much a take it or leave it basis. He maintains that he loves me profoundly and that he absolutely doesn’t want to lose me, and I believe him. I love him profoundly and more than I have ever loved anyone, and I feel that my life would never be as fulfilling without him as I know it would be with him. I do not want to be in a polyamorous relationship and I believe that polyamory is being used to justify an affair; however, I have agreed to learn more about it. I am suffering with the pain of betrayal, a loss of self worth, anger, jealousy and all of the usual things that come in a situation like this. My partner is experiencing tremendous guilt, fear of loss and an absolute lack of clarity. Same Sex Relationship

Lawyer, NYC

Betrayed wife regrets her choices

I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.  HE TELLS ME THAT HE FEELS LIKE IM DONE OR THAT WERE JUST MOVING ON AND REALLY THAT’S NOT WHAT I WANT.  I DO LOVE HIM AND I MISS HIM SO MUCH I MISS US, AND I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT IT BECAUSE YOU HAD ASKED ME WHAT DO I MISS.  I MISS EVERYTHING, I MISS COMING HOME TO HIM EVEN IF HE IS IN A GRUMPY MOOD AND BEING ABLE TO TALK TO HIM ABOUT OUR DAYS AND HEARING ALL HIS IDEAS THAT HE HAS.  I MISS CURLING UP ON THE COUCH WITH HIM WHILE HE CHANNEL SURFS AND I LAY ON HIS CHEST RELAXING, I MISS SITTING DOWN FOR DINNER WITH OUR FAMILY AND TALKING WITH OUR KIDS, I MISS THE BABY VOICE HE TALKS TO ME IN WHEN HES BEING CUTE, AND HIM MAKING ME SMILE BY SAYING SOMETHING STUPID.  I MISS US GOING UPSTAIRS TOGETHER AND GOING TO SLEEP EVEN IF WE DID ROLL OVER FROM EACHOTHER KNOWING HE WAS THERE I COULD SLEEP.  HIM WORKING HARD TO MAKE ME HAPPY, AND WANTING TO TAKE CARE OF ME AND OUR FAMILY AND HE WAS SO PROUD OF DOING THAT AND I LOVED THAT HE DID THAT.  I MISS THOSE DAYS WHEN HE WOULD COOK FOR ME MY FAV FOOD TO MAKE ME HAPPY.  I MISS TRYING TO MAKE HIM HAPPY AND WORKING HARD FOR OUR FAMILY, I MISS THAT IM NOT THERE TO TAKE HIS HURT AWAY AND THAT IM THE ONE WHO HAS CAUSED IT,  I MISS COOKING FOR HIM AND DOING THINGS TO MAKE HIM HAPPY AND SMILE.  I MISS OUR FUTURE I KNOW IT HASN’T HAPPEN YET BUT WE ALWAYS TALKED ABOUT IT AND I THINK ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME AND OUR FAMILY. Unfaithful Wife Paralegal, LV, USA  

We did have a rough night last night.  I have a hard time because sometimes I think that I really shouldn’t have to get over this. I shouldn’t have to forgive him, and maybe it is wrong that I do forgive him.  Maybe it doesn’t set a good example for my kids.  If it was the first time, yes, or even the second.  But this is the third time he has really lied and cheated (and this time was the worst situation out of the three).  Am I just going against all I believe it because it is easier than trying to leave. I am struggling to commit to the program right now because I am so conflicted about it. I want us to be together because of our kids and because it would be terrible to have to start over, but then I think- if I did start over maybe I would be giving myself a chance to be with someone who loved me from the beginning and wanted to marry me when it was time and all of that normal relationship progression that I have never had with (husband). Betrayed Wife

Teacher, Arizona, USA

Hello Savannah, The monologue is working. We are now connecting somehow. And I know… I shouldn’t expect anything from him. Anyway I’m still hopeful… I wanna tell you that you are wonderful and I appreciate your help. Unfaithful Wife

Nurse Practioner, Las Vegas

Savannah,
I’m having a bad day. Almost as bad as the day I found out about the affair.
It started yesterday (Sunday) as we were driving home from out of town. I saw his face in the mirror and it made me think of him with her. Then my thoughts got out of control.
When we got home, I went upstairs to clean up and I just lost it. We had been talking about when to renew our vows, and discussed possibly in October. Then I started thinking that he was having the affair in October, so I don’t want to taint my vows with that mess.
Then I started thinking WHEN exactly did he start the affair. So I looked it up (he was out of town and I checked the dates). Then I realized that from now on, his birthday, our daughter’s birthday, our anniversary, and Thanksgiving will all be tainted from the affair.
This morning I decided to verify the date he started talking to her by looking at old phone bills. It does match up, so that is good. But there are a TON of random phone numbers on the bills, he talked to her mulitple times a day (but can’t seem to find time to talk to me), and he talked to her a couple times after things started coming out (before I found out about the affair, but after shit hit the fan).
I don’t know what to do. I’m so mad and sad. I don’t trust him at all. And I’m terrified that it will happen again.

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