An Open Letter to The Cheater and His Wife

An Open Letter to the Cheater and his Wife - #staymarriedWe do not know each other personally, but I am more affected than I should be by the relationship problems of others. I got an email this week from you, a woman I don’t know, sharing with me that you recently found out your husband has been unfaithful. As soon as I read it, I wished I hadn’t. You are clearly in pain over this betrayal. It’s awful.

Though I have no idea who you are, my stomach was in knots and my head began to throb with pain. It was supposed to be a family day, but my mind was too full with thoughts and questions and frustrations to engage with my husband and kids. I was elsewhere. Tony, my husband, kept trying to bring me back. He’d reach for my hand or tell me he loved me or ask me what I was thinking. He knows from experience that news like this wrecks me.

It was out of this kind of wreckage that we began #staymarried in the first place. I needed an outlet for the way I was aching for those around me. I wanted to be part of a solution, if that was even possible.

In the moments I was able to climb out of the trappings of my own thoughts, I would lock eyes with Tony and say, “Not us, right? You’re not cheating on me, are you?”

“Honey, I’m in love with you,” he said. “I am not cheating on you. I will NOT cheat on you.”

My poor husband. He knows when I am like this that our usual banter and sarcasm will not work. He knows he can’t get defensive. He just needs to say the words. I need to hear the words because, after reading your email, the confidence I usually have in our marriage is being shaken. It’s not fair to him, but he is not worried about what is fair. He takes the time to reassure me and not make me feel like I am being ridiculous – which I clearly am.

Villains and Victims

Something occurs to me whenever I read a message like the one you sent me. When someone has been unfaithful, it’s much too easy to identify them as the “villain,” and their spouse as the “victim.” Usually it’s the “victim” that reaches out to me. I get that. You are hurting and searching for relief from your pain, someone to confide in, someone who might be able to comfort. You are a real person; I am much too aware of that. What crushes me, however, is not that you have been the victim of the worst kind of betrayal, but that people in your situation often believe you are completely blameless. To me, both you and your husband are villains and victims. Sadly, though, you will likely receive compassion from your community and your husband will surely be shunned.

How could I place blame on you as you are experiencing such pain? How can I suggest that you try to take a look at your part in it? I can’t. But, in my heart I wonder how long you may have allowed yourself to be disconnected from your spouse before the affair took place. Did you marry a person who was trustworthy in the first place, or someone you hoped would somehow become trustworthy? 30% of divorced women say that they knew their marriage was doomed the day they walked down the aisle! Are we enabling this as a society? Have we glorified the wedding day so much that we aren’t giving men and women room to admit they’ve made a mistake in whom they chose before they actually commit the rest of their lives?

I wonder, too, if you will ever see that the signs were there long before the betrayal. Did you not reach out when your spouse began to pull away? When did you decide that friendship with the one you married was no longer worth the effort? At what point did it become okay to keep secrets from each other?

Before you cheat…

An affair does not happen by accident. I am not saying that your husband who strayed is not at fault. Clearly he is and his actions cause pain that is devastating to you and everyone around him. Cheating is not a solution to a troubled marriage. Not ever.

"The grass is GREENER where you water it." - #staymarried - An Open Letter to the Cheater and his Wife

You’ve heard “the grass is greener on the other side” but the truth is, the grass is greener where you water it. It is vital that you nurture your marriage. Invest in the person you committed your life to in the first place.

There are at least two sides to every story. I’ve had the opportunity countless times to be a listening ear to the one who was betrayed. But, if YOU are the one thinking of cheating, if there is someone outside of your marriage that you’re flirting with and daydreaming about, STOP IT! I promise you, the thrill you may experience with someone new will quickly be replaced with stress and shame as you work to hide what you’re doing. Then, when you ultimately get found out – which you will – you’ll experience a brief relief from the stress of secret-keeping, but now your spouse will be sent into a tailspin of hurt. If you have kids, they will find out what you have done and will struggle for the rest of their lives not only to trust you, but to trust in love and relationships at all. The ripple effect of acting on a flirtation could be felt for generations, even if you and your spouse are able to recover and stay together.

Cheater’s often say, “I didn’t mean for this to happen.” Sadly, I believe you. I’m sure one thing led to another and there you were making the mistake of a lifetime. But, you don’t go from being happily married and loving your spouse to cheating on them all in the same day. Dr. John Gottman shows us in his book What Makes Love Last? How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal that there’s a series of events that can often be identified before the cheating actually occurs. He calls it “The Cheater’s Cascade”…

The Cheater's Cascade from Dr. John Gottman's book "What Makes Love Last" - #staymarried - An Open Letter to the Cheater and his Wife

You know what I see when I look at “The Cheater’s Cascade”? I see that at every step there is an opportunity to turn back. Every decision from secret keeping to confiding in someone outside of your marriage is a chance to see that you’re heading in the direction you really don’t want to go. Please, take the U-turn. Humble yourself and reach out to your spouse before it’s too late.

As a friend…

I’m still learning what it takes to be a good friend in these devastating situations. I’m certainly not a therapist. I’m not professionally equipped to handle this kind of thing. When someone is hurting all I want is for them to feel loved and comforted. When someone has made the mistake of straying from their marriage, I want them to know what it feels like to experience grace and forgiveness and not allow such a mistake to define the rest of their lives. When someone confesses to me that the person they’ve been seeing is actually married to someone else, I’m crushed and angry. Still, even then, I want them to know they are loved and that I understand how these terrible decisions can be so easily made.

"Dating a married person is only cute if you're the one they're married to. Otherwise, not cute." - #staymarried - An Open Letter to the Cheater and his Wife

I struggle with how much of my own heart to share with you. Will it come across as empathetic or harsh and judgemental? Is it better just to listen? Is there actually anything that can be said to bring any amount of healing? I don’t know. I struggle to remember that I was not the one betrayed because the pain feels so real to me. Case by case, I am learning. Still, I aim to surround myself with friends who value their own marriage and who will encourage me to value mine.

While this is not the typical “5 Ways…” post we usually strive for on #staymarried, a post to encourage you with a “how to have a healthier marriage,” I had to get it out. I implore you to read and re-read it. If you are not thinking of cheating, chances are pretty good that you know someone who is or someone who has been cheated on.

While I don’t know much, I do know infidelity doesn’t have to happen. If not for the sake of your own marriage, please, for the sake of mine, let’s continue to build a community of faithfulness and #staymarried.

—-

You are reading An Open Letter to the Cheater and His Wife, a #staymarried blog. You may also want to read 5 Ways to Prevent Infidelity and Recovering from Infidelity. If you think these could benefit someone else’s marriage, please consider sharing. New to #staymarried? Welcome! Check out why we started this blog and our first entry to get a little background.

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Michelle

 

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41 responses

  • I am a betrayed wife. I am absolutely responsible for how bad our marriage was, which led to both of us feeling horribly miserable and lost as to how dig our way out. But my husband made the choice to cheat, and I am in no way to blame for his choice and resent being told otherwise. I follow your blog, and many others that provide positive inspiration for a healthy and happy marriage; as my husband and I work to re-build our marriage from the ground up. I look forward to more blog posts, hopefully of a more positive and uplifting nature.

    • Christa, I’m right there with you girl.

      And Michelle, I am the VICTIM, yes.. victim, of adultery. Was I a perfect spouse before the affair took place? NO! Am I perfect spouse now? Definitely not. But to try and shift ANY blame away from the adulterer is absurd. I can’t help but think “Clearly this woman has never been cheated on.” — I love this blog, usually. But I would just like to say.. be very careful writing such an offensive article about a topic that you have no first hand knowledge of.

      • Hi Christa & Teresa,

        I agree, you are certainly not to blame for your husband’s decision to cheat. What he did was horrible, I didn’t mean to suggest it was your fault and I am so sorry my words felt that way to you. I had a feeling this post wouldn’t help me gain any new friends, but these words – my words – come straight from my heart that truly is crushed over broken marriages. When I am devastated, my thoughts and words get darker and darker, that’s the reality of who I am. So, while we always want to bring hope and encouragement, marriage itself isn’t always a happy road to travel on and I’ve decided to be transparent with how that makes me feel.

        • Hey Michelle,

          First of all — We Love #staymarried! 😀

          I actually agree completely with your article. Cheating is atrocious & I feel the exact same pain you described every time I hear a story about it! I scream inside my head, wondering…how did it get bad enough for someone to do that to their beloved they vowed their life to? How did their mind get so clouded as to not see the impending horror it would cause? I’m sure it’s easier to make that mistake than any of us faithful spouses could imagine though. People who feel un-loved often do crazy things!

          There are many good people who have done very hurtful things in a time of weakness. Overall, I’d say that anyone who doesn’t understand that should look at their own life failures/weaknesses and try harder to understand.

          Also, I know it’s hard to not use labels like victim & villain, as that is how society views the issue, but I think you did a pretty spectacular job tackling that aspect. When a marriage is falling apart, there is no safe haven or intimacy, and the “cheater’s cascade” has started, there is definitely an issue going on in both spouses. One spouse may be the cheater, but they’re not usually a pre-meditating “villain” who means to cause they’re spouse harm. Both spouses contribute to the decline of a marriage, and both of them make it susceptible to failures (like cheating.) Nothing happens in a vacuum and taking personal responsibility for any part (even if it’s tiny) is always infinitely more empowering than playing the victim.

          The only thing I’d be comfortable asserting to the betrayed spouse would be that they are worth SO much more than that and should have never been treated that way, but spouses don’t always treat each other like the irreplaceable people they are… especially when they feel unloved…. ☹

          I’d love to hear your thoughts on how emotional cheating corresponds to physical cheating, actually. But anyway…Kudos! Keep sharing your deeper thoughts with full transparency! Not everybody is going to like it, but it speaks deeply to others. 🙂

        • Ladies, I have to agree with you. It does appear that Michelle, in a somewhat subtle (somewhat not) way does shift the blame a tad more onto the “victims,” almost as if she’s saying what so many others do — “you must’ve done something wrong or he would not have cheated.” I’m sorry, Michelle, to agree with these folks, but your post was clear. However, it is OKAY for you to feel that way. You have a right to your opinions and as you said, you had a feeling your opinion on this topic would not gain you more friends. Especially not ones of the female variety considering we’re supposed to have each others backs fully & you do imply clearly that they are more to blame. “Did you not….” Was all these victims could hear in your post, and understandably so. When you said “Did you not reach out,” it read like this “did you not do this? Didn’t you bother doing that? You must not have done your part, you let him cheat & it’s partly your fault.”

          No. I cannot agree that the cheatee is EVER to blame. Not a single bit. Not if he/she was being difficult, not if he/she was distant. Not even if he/she was less loving. That is where you, as a couple, would get to the bottom of THAT (of whatever the spouse is doing that might ’cause’ you to lean towards cheating.). If the cheatER bothered to do that, to care enough to dig and find a way with their spouse, they probably would’ve either 1. found a way to work it out and have a healthy relationship before it crumbled or 2. not cheated, that’s for sure! There is never an excuse for cheating, and that includes the cheatee doing anything to contribute. A cheater is always the one with the problem and I’ll go so far as to say that it’s their problem alone. It was within them, within their hearts before. It usually has nothing to do with the spouse, in fact! It’s something within them, the cheatER. They’re broken, or whatever. And they turn towards the wrong thing. And then they cry “I made the biggest mistake of my life, won’t you take me back love?” Yet that’s only them finding more ways to get MORE of what they want (now). Not them finding the solutions and fixing them and then trying to move on, repair things and help their spouse heal. Without that… Just why bother?

          Anyways, I could go on. I deal with cheating spouses on a daily basis, working with an organization that helps with pornography addiction and pornography/marriage-related issues, so I feel confident in my statements and beliefs surrounding things of this nature. It’s one way or the other. No lukewarm — either you’re capable of cheating or you love (real love) your spouse. One way or the other, but not both. Not simultaneously, anyways.

          Again, you have your right to speak your opinion, and I choose to respect all opinions, whether they are in agreement of mine or not. Yours is not, and I respect yours, which is why I was not harsh in my comment leaving my own. But, I wanted to chime in and try to make sense of how a victim (yes, victim. Harm WAS done to them, and intentionally. The cheater knew they were cheating when they did it. They were not sleep walking) would read your post.

          Cheers, and happy, healthy, loving relationships to all!

  • Michelle, reading your comment, I understand where you are coming from but I also agree with Christa & Teresa. Having survived an affair that my husband took part in, I know all to well what it means to be the victim of adultery. I don’t think that makes my husband the villain in our marriage though. I was worried that our friends and family would see him that way as we began to share our story, and some of them do/did. But the truth is, he is just a sinner that made a series of really bad choices. That doesn’t make him evil or wicked.. it just means he needs redemption and forgiveness.

    I would agree that, as you share your heart, it is so important to chose your words very carefully. Victims of adultery have enough of a mental battle to fight without people insinuating that they are somehow to blame for the situation they find themselves in. I have Satan whispering those lies in my head all the time and to read them in print makes them that much harder to fight off. Where adultery is concerned, the perpetrator is *always* 100% to blame for committing that heinous act. That doesn’t make the other spouse a saint and the adulterer a monster. It just means that, in the specific situation at hand, the one that committed the sin is the only one at fault for having the affair.

    Every marriage consists of two flawed people that need grace, redemption, and understanding to battle through all of the obstacles that inevitably come with marriage. But again, preexisting issues do not mean an adulterer is less to blame for his/her actions and that some of the blame belongs to the victim of the betrayal.

  • Just as the cheater is responsible for his or her choices which led down the path to infidelity, so also is the spouse for his or her choices which put the cheater in (and/or allowed the cheater to stay in) an unhealthy marriage. Every person on this earth has a right to be happy. That is 100% your own responsibility….until you get married. When you agree to marry someone, you are agreeing to become one with them. When your leg is hurting, do you ignore it and let it get worse or do you do something about it? If you are not on the level with your spouse such that you know when they are hurting, then you shouldn’t have married them. If you ignore a part of your body that is hurting, you cannot expect the rest of the body to not be negatively impacted. You can’t place all fault on the leg for getting infected. You knew your leg needed healing. But you ignored it. If you can’t come together as one in marriage, then don’t come together. If your spouse, being one with you, makes the decision to cheat, then that means that you made the decision to cheat. You are one. Don’t get complacent in your marriage. Pay attention to your partner as you would yourself. That’s the charge in marriage. Do this and you won’t be surprised.

    • Wow wow wow. @Anonymous, its that same mentality that tells a rape victim that they are to blame for the way they were dressed or what part of town they were in when they were victimized. Also, if my leg is infected, of course I take care of it.. its a leg. It can’t take care of itself. But a spouse is a human being responsible for keeping their self in check. I can’t prevent my husband from having an affair. *No one* can prevent their spouse from cheating.. no matter how much they work at it. Affairs do *NOT* happen because one spouse isn’t pulling their weight or isn’t tending to the marriage enough. Affairs are a symptom of something terribly wrong inside of the person that is having the affair.

      It is one thing to suggest that each person in a marriage is equally responsible for carrying their weight and working hard to do their part. But it is ludicrous to suggest that an affair happens because the perpetrator isn’t being fulfilled or satisfied by their partner.

    • @Annonymou- You blended two different stages of unfaithfulness into one, and that’s dangerous.
      There is (1) creating a situation for something to take place, and then (2) there is the something. I can mouth off to my husband and he can want to hit me, but choose not to… or he can choose to take the punch. I contributed to creating a hostile situation, yes… but I have zero control over his choice. Same with cheating: If a wife withholds sex as a manipulative tactic, and/or ignore a husband, takes him for granted, nags, etc., she helps to create an environment where her husband may want to seek the affection and attention of another woman. She must own to her part. HOWEVER, the husband makes the choice to cheat or not to cheat… and the wife is responsibility for her actions only, not his.

    • Coward, put a name with the vile words you spew. That to me sounds like someone who has cheated trying to justify their actions to themselves!

  • Ladies, with all due respect, you need to re-read this blog. You each have added statements in your comments that are NOT from the blog entry. I suspect you added what you think you saw because of your painful experiences. Fair enough, you’ve been through hell.
    First off, I am not here to defend Michelle… she’s a big girl and doesn’t need anyone to do that. That being said, this topic is very near and dear to my own life and I am compelled to recall her words.
    I think Michelle said, “I am not saying that your husband who strayed is not at fault. Clearly he is and his actions cause pain that is devastating to you and everyone around him.”
    Also, she mentions that each participant is the villain and victim… which is true. If your husband has sex with another woman while you are married to him, that is an act of a villain (Dictionary: a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime). Loved by Jesus? Yup! A villain at the time of sexual acting out? Yup!
    I too was a wife betrayed, and I knew the pain. It took a lot of time, and a lot of therapy, for me to see and accept at my contribution to an unhealthy marriage. I was faced with the brutal truth that my husband didn’t decide to cheat on his own. That being said, he pulled the trigger and that is 100% his choice. If you look closely, I just described two VERY different stages of adultery that Michelle also points out. I helped to prime our marriage for adultery, but I did not commit the adultery… he did.
    I loved this blog entry… it made me want to puke a little to recall those years of pain and devastation, but it’s a reminder that the not every #Staymarried entry needs to be filled with 5 happy hops to a healthy marriage. This, for me, was a very positive entry. How can you get more positive than dealing with real life???
    Ladies, I pray that your lives now are peaceful and amazing. I know mine is.

  • You can believe what you want to, and continue to play the completely innocent victim role all you want…but until you learn to accept your part in this situation, it will continue to occur again and again. Playing the victim may help you sleep at night, but it doesn’t prevent you from becoming the victim again. And worse, you just teach others how to become victims as well.

    If you can’t operate as one, don’t get married. You aren’t ready. (And that’s OK)

    • @anonymous:

      As a person who’s made the enormous mistake of straying, I can say with confidence that the deficiencies in my own character were the *cause* of my affair.

      Now, are there other influences? Certainly. A man can be swayed by marital issues, financial frustrations, upbringing, porn addiction, and so many other factors. But, in my observation of talking with countless fallen men, the greatest faults lie in the man himself.

      So, when it’s time for recovery, the first step is a leap. A man must examine and change his heart and actions drastically. Why worry about peripheral issues when most marriages don’t make it past that initial phase? Why bother to place some small portions of blame elsewhere when most men can’t overcome their flesh, baggage, and pride in the first place?

    • @Annonymous: The language you are using seems manipulative and condescending – are you aware of that?
      You say that “every person on this earth has a right to be happy”, which is a lie, that very well may help you sleep at night, but is dangerous. If sleeping with prostitutes will make someone happy, is breaking the law then permitted in order to fulfill their right?
      Then you mention something very interesting: “If you are not on the level with your spouse such that you know when they are hurting, then you shouldn’t have married them”. I don’t know which erroneous level of marriage you are referring to that we should “know” when our spouse is hurting without them communicating (verbally or non-verbally) with us first. I love my husband so much it’s amazing, but if he choose to keep his pain a secret, then how can I know his level of hurting?
      In broad strokes, I would like to say I see what you are meaning in your comments… but you make such bold statements with such little structural support it’s hard to take it seriously. I do, however, wish you well in your marriage and pray that Jesus is working in yours just like I pray He is working in mine.

  • Anonymous – I’m sorry but you sound like a man looking for justification to cheat on his spouse. And your opinion is one that perpetuates a cycle of men cheating on their spouses and feeling like its ok because their wife wasn’t good enough.

    Emily – I actually think we’re on the same page.. we’re just communicating our ideas in different ways. I think that a wife is totally responsible for her role in the marriage and needs to do her part to ensure her marriage is healthy. Neglecting to take ownership of one’s shortcomings is unhealthy. However, I think a wife neglecting her role contributes to an unhealthy marriage.. not to the affair itself. A wife can’t contribute to something that she isn’t involved in.

    Before my husband’s affair, I was not doing and being everything I should have been as a wife. That contributed to my marriage being unhealthy.. that did *not* contribute to my husband having an affair. His affair was a result of allowing himself to be in compromising situations and a result of his walk with the Lord not being strong enough to make sound/biblical decisions.

    • @Hannah. Ya, we are saying just about the same thing. High-Five!
      I contributed to an unhealthy marriage situation by holding super high expectations of us as a couple, and my husband felt he could never meet them. He may have been right. So, he felt crappy and started to act out sexually. The acting out got worse and worse and I had no idea for most of our marriage. The acting out ended up risking my healthy, my safety, his safety and our finances… and he owns that. He finally told me some of what was going on, and looking back, I own up to not reaching out for help at that time. My pride got in the way and I kept it a secret for a year, and the cheating kept going on. So yes, I was not responsible for the cheating, acting out, money spending, etc., but I was responsible for giving those behaviors a place to grow and fester. Soooo lame.
      The story has a joyful turn of healing, redemption and a new marriage with a wonderful man I respect the socks off of. I have learned a lot from my past, and have done things differently and the results have been outstanding. To anyone reading this, who gives two shakes, the biggest piece of keeping my new marriage pure are regular check-ins’ with raw honesty. We both lay it (grudges, anger, resentment, fears, hurt feelings, secret desires, f-ups) out of the table, and experience the love only Jesus can give in our marriage. It’s pretty rad.

      • @Emily – That’s awesome! I love hearing stories like yours. 🙂 My story is very similar.. I had my husband on a pedestal and the expectations began to overwhelm him. There were also issues with us simply not being prepared for marriage. We were very young and had no community to lean on when things got hard. We have learned so much throughout the process and while I will never be grateful for the affair itself.. I am so grateful for the work that God has done in our lives! Thanks for chatting. So grateful for your openness 🙂 Have a great night and God Bless!

  • “I’m sorry but you sound like a man looking for justification to cheat on his spouse.”

    That is why this will be my final post. I’m not going to participate in a man-bashing argument. You have no idea what my gender is. SHould it even matter?

    But that’s besides the point. What I’m getting at here is that there seems to be an open willingness to avoid connecting the dots when it’s not beneficial to the narrative you wish to perpetuate.

    Decisions are made by people when in whatever environment they are currently in. Fact.
    People make better decisions when they are currently in a happy environment. Fact.
    People make poor decisions when they are currently in an unhappy environment. Fact.
    Being married to someone gives you a profoundly influential role in affecting their environment. Fact.

    How then can you admit to being responsible for creating and/or maintaining an unhappy environment, but claim zero responsibility for the consequences of your actions?

    I’m sure you like to take credit for the smile on your spouse’s face when you do something you know will make them happy. It goes both ways.

    Look, I’m sorry I have to be the ‘mean’ person here. But just know, I’m trying to help. Ultimately though, if you want a different result in your life, it’s up to YOU to stop doing the same things that got you the old results. It’s up to YOU to change your mentality.

    I don’t think my perspective is welcome here so I will stop commenting.

    This was a great open letter, and I wish you all the best.

  • I am a VICTIM and so is the sweet little boy that is now my step-son. Not to pat myself on the back but I was and still am the “everything” in my marriage. Cooking, cleaning, homework, paying bills, food shopping, etc. I do it all and cater to my husband’s every need. He himself will tell you I am the perfect wife. He cheated and it led to the conception of a child. How devastated I was to learn this and know that it would have remained hidden had I never found out. My husband was and is, besides our children, my whole world. Together since 18 (36 now), I question could it be that we were together too long? But when you love someone time shouldn’t matter, it should get better not worse. How do you turn off a love that you felt was strong? I could not walk away and instead and making the best of having a 2 year old in my life that I didn’t give birth too. Yes it is painful to see him because he is a constant reminder of what my husband did, but when I look into this innocent child’s eyes, it isn’t his fault just like it isn’t mine that he is here. His mother knew she was sleeping with a married man just like my husband knew what he was doing. I will never forgive it but I have accepted it. But please, do not blame the other spouse, especially without knowing the background!!!!

  • First off I love Michelle and Tony and what you guys are doing with #staymarried. However in reading the open letter to the cheater I think might have just missed the mark or maybe just the correct timing on this. Most people here have read or seen our story, and through the counseling we went through, there was never any way that my counselor, nor Katie’s, would have asked her to question her role in my actions during the darkest hours. In fact it was quite the opposite, during the immediate aftermath of the lies coming out I had to allow her to be pissed off and angry at me and my role was to just take it. I cannot imagine if someone told Katie during those first few weeks and months to question what her part in it all was. I agree that there are things that both the husband and wife should be doing to and for each other so that they remain faithful to the marriage. However during this horrific time this is not the time to be questioning what she could have done different. I know your heart Michelle and I understand your intent but I question what good this has provided to the individual the initially sparked you to write this post and if it would be at all helpful for her during this hour to read it.

    My heart goes out to her, and right now she has every right to be pissed off beyond all recognition for what her husband has done and I hope she has people who care about her as well as professional guidance to allow her to vent in a healthy way

    • Wow an amazing story.U have a heart of gold to love that little child.Bless him. I am very annoyed that this person has sympathy for the victim of cheaters and then tell then its quite ok because victims you need to accept blame.Uh wrong!!!Never is it the fault of the victim…

  • @Annonymous
    People who are sex addicts make poor decisions whether they are in a happy or unhappy environment. FACT
    That is the nature of addiction. FACT
    Putting any blame on the spouse is unconscionable. FACT

  • I read this post this morning and was deeply troubled by it. I actually agree with most of what was said but I don’t think you go through a situation such as what this woman is going through and NOT question what part you played in where the marriage got off track. When the pain is still raw and the emotion and betrayal is in full force I don’t believe this woman should have to be faced with a blog calling her out for what part she played in this, especially from someone that really doesn’t know the entire situation. This woman needs to be loved. Her spouse needs to be loved. The woman who chose to cheat with the spouse needs to be loved, as hard as that is to understand to many of us christian’s especially those that can identify with the betrayed spouse. I don’t believe a loving response is to take a woman in her darkest hour and tell her to examine her own actions that may have caused the betrayal, trust me, she’ll get there all on her own. I believe this woman’s anger and hurt is justified, she needs to embrace it in order to move forward. I believe this post was well intended but should have been a private response to the woman. I hope this woman takes the good, throws out the misdirected comments, and focuses her efforts on those that have her best interests at heart and repairing her marriage.

  • I’ve been following your blog for about a year and half and absolutely love it. I love that you don’t sugarcoat the hardships of marriage and that you address tough subjects. This last post has missed the mark for me. I applaud that you’re willing to tackle the subject of infidelity, but the fact that you’ve labeled individuals who are experiencing infidelity as both villains and victims is simply not okay. While it takes two to enter into marriage I have learned first-hand that it takes only one to end it. You have grossly underestimated Satan’s ability to undermine, tempt, and steal the heart of a spouse away from their partner. You ask several questions of the spouse who was perpetrated against:
    -“when did you decide it was okay to keep secrets from each other?”
    – “when did you decide that friendship with the one you love so much was not worth the effort?”
    – “did you not reach out when your spouse began to pull away?”
    @Michelle- while I cannot answer for the person who wrote the letter to you, I can answer as someone who experienced infidelity at the hands of a spouse personally:

    – I trusted my spouse to tell the truth. I begged and pleaded for the truth, but even in the face of concrete evidence of infidelity, my spouse denied the truth.
    – I was willing to forgive the infidelity, undergo intensive couples counseling and repair our marriage, but my spouse dropped out and wouldn’t attend counseling sessions. Then he filed for divorce.
    – repeatedly I reached out to my spouse as I watched him pull away. I reasoned that my spouse was working hard and I was 9 months pregnant, so my spouse must feel stress anxiety. I never imagined infidelity was pulling my spouse away.

    @Michelle, your questions are accusatory and you assume much. I love your blog because you encourage the best In individuals who are in marriage relationships. Please do not stoop to labels and irrational questioning. Every individual’s journey is unique and I believe that, while it was not God’s plan for my spouse to be unfaithful, much understanding, healing and restoration can be brought to lives through difficult circumstances. It takes two to enter into marriage. It takes only one to destroy marriage. It takes Jesus to heal hearts broken by sin.
    @Michelle- please encourage readers to move toward health and wholeness, whether or not they are a perpetrator of infidelity or the one who was perpetrated against. Your lines of questioning are not questions, they are judgements and therefore not edifying.

    My prayers are with those who are facing the challenges of infidelity. Remember that as you walk through this valley, Jesus walks with you. He will neither leave you nor forsake you.

    • Your response is just perfect.Yes the anger is there for me very much so and it is not a black and white situation and certainly not my fault which has taken me and is still taking me time to fully accept. We are now working on our marriage and my husband has alot of issues from his upbringing and childhood cancer (which he has severe trauma from and was never dealt with until 34 yrs later!) which has led to his infidelity happening.Not my fault.I have very bad dark days now and then but I have support so i am doing ok.In time all will be ok and better.Although I will never say my marriage does have to be condemmed because of what happened.In my case anyway it doesnt but every marriage and situation is different and is not black and white.It is upto the individuals to walk or stay and make it work.For me we are separated so he has space to heal and have long term therapy and for me I remain at home with my daughter healing too.We are not together as my personal situation means this is the level of comfortablness I can manage with my husband and it is better than living together with this pain from him being around me and also from completely separating which i do not want.I do see him at weekends and we constantly talk and are still joined by our hearts.We are working on things but have to start a new relationship and take it slowley to repair and heal and reignite the love etc.Thanku to everyone who sees this is not black and white and that as a hurt partner we should not be to blame.

  • John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”.
    1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

    These verses apply to marriages & families as well as individuals. There is a demonic force at work named “Covenant Breaker”. He is sneaky. He blinds the adulterer. The other spouse may be seeing changes and begging for answers. Praying constantly for the changing & distancing spouse. But answers cannot and will not be come freely.

    As the betrayed spouse, I know first hand that after the after is discovered or revealed, Satan then begins to work on betrayed spouse. His/her head is filled with constant thoughts of “what did you do”, “what could you have done”, “is the other person (better looking, kinder, more fun…fill in the blank)”, “can you ever trust them again”, “will this marriage survive”, “when people find out, will they hate him/her, instead of lovingly accepting them back”…the list of questions/lies from Satan is unending. Add to that the thoughts of what your spouse has done/shared/said with another person and you find yourself living in your own personal mental & emotional hell. Yes…Satan is certainly at work on this spouse as well.

    I have enjoyed this blog for several months. However, this hit a nerve with me, as I believe it would with anyone who is currently trying to heal from the pain of adultery (and some days are worse than others, yesterday was a rough day). I was nearly in tears as Satan again began to fill my head with the questions I battle all day, every day…”what could I have done”, “am I a poor judge of character after knowing someone 4 years before marriage…and 15 years of marriage without any issues?”.
    I woke up again this morning, thinking about this post a little more in relation to the other posts I have read on your blog. I don’t believe you intended to sound harsh to the one hurting. You obviously have a heart for marriage…and by extension individuals in marriages. Please, realize sometimes both parties are hurting and the best thing an outsider can do for both the betrayer & the betrayed is offer prayer and let them know you are praying. Any other words can sound hurtful, even if that was not the intent.
    Much love to you & your family.

  • Literally, the only good thing about this blog post is reading the supportive comments of fellow victims and Carl, whom I appreciate very much. I think there is a difference between being transparent and being ignorant. Anybody can write a blog I suppose, but i do think it comes with some reaponsibilty i guess. I appreciate that you acknowledge not being an expert or a professional or having experienced this. But I do wish that like your other posts, you would have referred to some experts in the topic (Shirley glass? An EFT therapist?). I do love your reference from Gottman.
    I do know who I married. I did know he was pulling away. I sat through two marital therapy sessions with two different therapists trying to figure out why while he sat quietly knowing the entire time that he had another life. I cried, begged, pleaded for answers. I prayed. I read books. All the while pregnant with two little kids under 4 years old. I never gave up and never stopped loving him.
    Blaming the victim of an affair retraumtizes the victim like any other abuse (child abuse, rape, victim of spousal abuse-which cheating is, etc). And believe me, it’s a shameful to be the noncheating spouse as it is to be the one who got to have fun cheating. Even though we didn’t cause it, it’s not our fault and many of us couldn’t have prevented it. You can’t make another human being do or not do a behavior. Ask an alcoholic’s wife.
    Sadly, I wonder if some of the temptation to blame the victim comes from our feelings of wanting to think we can control whether or not this happens to ourselves. Maybe it’s too scary to think it could happen to you too, even if you do everything pretty well in a marriage. I know I would have said that prior to this landmine being dropped in my 4 week postpartum lap.
    I have loved your blog so far and ask will you please consider following up with some well thought out resources for your readers?

    Thank you fellow readers. Your comments made me feel understood and not alone for really the first time.

  • As a Gottman trained therapist devoted to marriage repair, I see that your view of both the cheater and cheated sharing responsibility (villainy?) misses a page from Gottman’s What Makes Love Last, How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal. Here is the top of the heap of marital research himself, “Although neglect plays a large role in marital dissatisfaction, it is not enough to land either partner in someone else’s arms.”
    This bit of blaming the cheated on is rampant in bad counseling as well and is why Peggy (RIP) of Dearpeggy.com had a list of recommended therapists for assisting with healing of affairs, and why that list was short. She told me that it is always refreshing to meet a counselor who gets it and can stop blaming the cheated on, as well as walk a couple through exploring the affairs, another thing most counselors shy away from.
    Most counselors have ZERO training in helping couples, even with a Marriage and Family master’s, even with a license in marriage and family therapy. It’s one of my little pet peeves because in surveys of counselors most will say they treat couples. It takes a lot of guts to go through counseling in that much pain and you would hope your counselor at least got training in marriage help.

  • Wow, I’m so glad that what I tried to post last week was caught up in a glitch and never made it. There’s a whole lot of vulnerability, guilt and shame in the messages from last week. In truth, it really doesn’t matter who is to “blame” in such circumstances. What really matters is that several people where in great need of understanding, compassion, and Jesus’ unconditional love, and like all humans, they fell short and let themselves and others down. The truth is, only God can heal something like this, and each party involved has to receive God’s forgiveness and healing before it will work. And, yes, for the record, my husband cheated on me 19 years ago with a stripper half his age, so I do have some experience with the dynamics involved. Please, go to God. Confess to Him. And most importantly, receive His love. Your life will change exponentially when you do.

  • I am so frustrated, how do any of you get through this??? NO ONE has addressed true raw issues with your spouse!!! Or current betrayal, they are all feel good posts about the other person is to blame. What about when you know that it is your own spouse to blame. Then what, especially when you don’t want to lose them. But you know they have stolen their heart mind and soul. All I have is laundry a big house to clean and a child to carpool, and I do get to sleep with him each night. He does come home to me. Do I blame her or do I blame him? He hates this blog and hates that I follow similar ones. He thinks they are all man haters and fill my mind with false hope. All of these posts hit a nerve. I have been married for 2 decades and we have 3 children together. 2 in College and an 11 year old son. I know my husband has had one night stands or flings in the past. I knew he loved me and he always came home to me. I looked the other way over the years. We were happy on the surface. We have no divorces on either side of our families. We own a prominent business in a small town. My daily nightmare is I think he is in love with another woman. But I am too terrified to ask. I have been in denial, and have not wanted to admit it. I have bitterly blamed the other woman for trying to steal him from me. I hate her. She is also married to someone else. They seem happy outwardly. She is also very well known in our business and as a professional. She is fit and beautiful and very kind. Everyone likes her, and most do not believe me when I confide in them or ask for their opinion. It makes it hard. A wife knows. She just does. We only seem to fight about her for the past several months. I actually added fuel to our fights with some of my friends that have tried to to scare his straight. It did not work. He adamantly denies a love affair and says they are just friends and are there for one another when no one else is. I know she is a gold digger and has not a pot to piss in and her kids are draining her financially . Her husband is a prominent business man, but seems to have no common sense or a clue that his wife is stepping out on him. I am tempted to call him. Although, I just have my gut instinct and no proof. No one in these posts have touched on a husband who is in denial, lying to your face because he is too cowardly to move out of his marriage or out of his affair. Truly having his cake and eating it too. I think he still loves me and I know he loves our kids. I know you think I am weak for staying, but I do love him and could forgive him. Although our life will never have any trust again and I will always wonder if I killed a part of him if he stays with me. I have seen him look at her before when he did not know I was there. It is with such longing and passion that I have not seen for years. He tells her everything about our life, our business, our children, our parents, everything. I think he is cowardly in regards to not taking responsibility for his actions. The scandal to our new business in a small town is too much for both of us. I know he is worried that I may become suicidal if he leaves. This is stupid. I’m not! I still love him and want him to commit to me. He says he will and I want to believe him but this affair is not a one night stand. They have known each other for more than 15 years and are very close, they do everything together. Work together, travel together “for work”, exercise together, meet for breakfast lunch and dinner on occasion. We have actually all traveled together as families. My dilemma is he is so addicted to her, he talks about her in his sleep, he is distant and I know she is on his mind 24/7 I have no proof, but I think they have been intimate partners for years. I know he buys her expensive gifts and talks to her many times a day and texts her constantly. In my mind I blame her, but I am terrified that he is truly in love with her. I am afraid to ask, for fear of the answer. I will also not ask him to choose as I am afraid that my children and I will lose. I’m unhappy, I drink and smoke excessively I quit taking care of myself, I have even stopped eating hoping to have a slim body he will desire again. Sex is not spontaneous it’s the same all the time. I could tell you step by step what we will do each time. We are roommates with the great wall of tension between us pretending to be happy so that the other is not alarmed or pushed away. It is no way to live. I don’t want to be alone, but I also do not want to be second in the eyes of the man who is supposed to love me until death do us part. How do you compete or win your husband back when he gives you the promises that he will make it right, but you know in your heart he is promising her dreams too. At used to think of her as a friend, now I hate them both for destroying what I thought was beautiful. I know it is really stupid, but I went to The Other Woman last night with my girlfriend’s hoping to maybe find some solid answers. It didn’t help… Its cheating when someone does it once and feels remorseful and stops. Its an affair if it goes on for any length of time. Its a love affair if they cant give her up. Is it possible to be in love with more than one woman? I am not willing to give up on our marriage and he knows that I will never kick hi out in fact I am sure that he has said this out loud to people before. Do I continue to take stand in line? What if I just disappear, will he look for me? Or will he be glad I am out of the way so he can continue his new life. I want to confront her, destroy her world, I want to contact her husband and tell him what I know. But I am fearful that he will be violent towards my husband and her. Although I no longer know if I care or not. I have been getting counseling and I already take medication for my depression. Nothing is bringing him closer. he puts on an act for awhile, then its back to the lies. He thinks I don’t know… I am not a stupid woman. His clothes come home with makeup smudges sometimes, I smell perfumes, I also have seen flecks of glitter on his cheeks. Her hair is very long and mine is not. I find strands in his car or on his jacket occasionally. He has no interest in making love to me, and when he does it is barely to full manhood. It does nothing for me. But I crave him to want me sexually. okay enough said, has anyone out there been where I am? all of the past blogs have been happy and how easily you overcame and forgave. Isn’t it true that once a cheater always a cheater??? What do I do? If I ask the pointed question, do you love her? Then what do I do? Please help me. I am so lost and so raw. I just want my old life back. Is that even possible? He is showereing me with expensive jewlery, a spur of the moment trip which is so out of character. But I know that he is seeing her every day. I see the phone records and its HIM calling her, HIM texting her, don’t get me wrong she answers and texts back a lot, but he inniates it. I have been so blind. But right now he seems so committed to us. However I am so skeptical. Have you ever just woke up and realized your whole life is a lie. I almost wish she would just take him off my hands. I hate being second in line. He does not deserve me. She deserves him!

  • Hi Michelle,

    I am torn by this blogpost. On the one hand I see what you are saying. And I believe your advice is spot on when both partners are basically good people. But that’s not always the case. I was married to a chronic cheater who cheated throughout our 10 year marriage without a regret. Nothing I could have done would have made him behave differently. I know this because I tried it all. Thankfully your target audience are those who believe in the sanctity of marriage.

  • Ignorance is bliss and woe to him or her who thinks he is up to the test of marriage fidelity. It is easy to worship God in name only, but harder to do so, in reality. Perhaps this is God’s way of showing your spouse his or her need for God, in reality.

    If your marriage has not suffered adultery, thank Our Lord for that grace, for that is from where it comes. May all marriages be so blessed.

    To those women (or men) who have unfaithful spouses, adultery is always a sign of insanity. You must pray for your spouse, continually. Immerse yourself in the Holy Wounds of Christ, you will find spiritual strength and consolation. And your spouse will see God’s strength acting in you, he may have a need to see the Love that never Fails, Who Is Christ, at work in you, in order to follow Christ, in reality. It may take time, maybe years. St. Monica prayed for decades, and it was when she herself became more deeply converted to Christ, that the others followed.

    You have been given a Cross, and your cooperation in the carrying of the Cross will help. That Cross is a bridge to Paradise. By embracing your Cross, you will suffer more in your heart than is possible in the body, but you will suffer for the cause of Christ. May God bless you and strengthen all such souls.

    My educated guess is that people who are unfaithful are dealing with organic health issues (Meneire’s Disease would be an example) and are reverting to childhood behavioral patterns as a way to cope with the organic issue. A weak faith will not get one through such an ordeal, blessed is the spouse who has a spouse who genuinely cares and will ride out the storm, in faith.

    As far as passing judgment, we are not to do that, but any thinking person who would have sex with a married person is as far from God as a soul could ever be. So pray that all souls come to their senses, and that the world is ridded of all that is demonic.

    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

  • I used to look my husband in the eyes and ask the same thing you ask yours. I got the same responses from my husband. It hurts to think about that now.

    My husband had an 18 month affair with an old RX girlfriend. We had just had our 16 th anniversary when the sexual aspects of the affair began. We were going through so much when he began the affair. All out of my control. One of our children was diagnosed with a life long chronic health condition, we had a new baby (number 5) and I was having health issues stemming from the birth of our youngest child. His position at work was moved and we were forced to move too. It was not a place we wanted to live but felt forced to take the transfer. I tried so hard to keep my husband from pulling away and putting up walls. I talked to him and encouraged him to talk to me. He simply wouldn’t. I tried to be there but it was like hitting my head against a brick wall. I never believed he would become a liar and betray me and our kids the way he did.

    My husband did not fit into the neat box you have above. He and the other woman both have said it was sex as a “release”. They never talked about the sex. As soon as they were finished, they both acted as if it never happened and were “just friends”. They both say they never talked about me or the marriage. She told me that the only thing my husband said was very positive and that he loved me and would never leave me. He says he did it because he was “not in his right mind” and totally sure he could get away with it because I trusted him completely. She has said she did it because my husband gave her money and she felt she needed to repay him.

    Finding out my husband (and the father of our 5 children) betrayed his family for meaningless sex has been the most painful experience in my life. No one can truly understand what it feels like unless they experience this kind of devastation.

    We went through a lot of counseling, read countless books and have put in so much hard work. We are 2 years and 3 months into the healing process and things are starting to hurt a little less. My husband has done everything he can possibly do to try to make this better. He stopped all communication with this woman, made his life transparent and moved us to another country. I have had to find a strength inside myself that I never knew I possessed. The strength to forgive him, the strength to choose to love him unconditionally and the strength to keep my family together. Slowly, we are getting there.

  • Quite frankly, I’m offended with this blog entry. My husband cheated. I was at home raising 5 children and actively nurturing my marriage. I worked everyday on my marriage. It was never on the back burner. The only thing I could possibly be guilty of, would be of letting him have a job outside of the home. He had an affair at work. I never had reason to expect it would happen….ever! He was completely attentive to me and our relationship especially during his affair. If you think you can say you understand or feel or empathize, you are so so wrong.

    You were very out of line to publish this post. Not every situation fits into your stereotypical box. My husband actually brought a different post to me thinking it might benefit our recovery process. However after reading this, I will not be able to find any value on your site. So beware. I was just like you. He assured be he would never cheat, even at the height of it all… If you find out tomorrow, that he has been cheating, how much blame will you be willing to take?

  • I agree with the post above from Missy. How DARE you! Many times in my marriage my husband has not been “present” – did I cheat – NO. We both have careers and I have primary responsibility for raising our daughter. He, on the other hand has expensive hobbies, travels for work and is waited on hand and foot. There is more to a cheater than just some “lonely spot” in the relationship. Mine has mental problems stemming from childhood issues that have impacted many of his poor choices. Cheating is emotional and physical abuse to the spouse or partner – hands down. These things don’t just happen. Mine plotted for weeks, planned a trip with much detail, decided to treat me horribly for any excuse he could find and justified his actions for months. Over a year later, he still comes up with excuses while owning it and being sorry – he is like two people. The sadness, despair, depression and anger this has caused is worse than a death. It likely will ultimately cause a divorce, because “getting over it” is nearly insurmountable. I pray time will heal – I DESERVE to be happy again – I don’t know if he does – this is a wretched thing to do to anyone!

  • Please, explain to me how everyone in a marriage killed by infidelity is both villain and victim. Tell me how I am to blame for my husband cheating before we ever had a chance to live together. Tell me how it’s my fault when my husband deployed right after our wedding and was a cheater before we got to his home duty station? Tell me why someone who claims to have a heart for women broken by situations like this would make such a stupid statement. You are giving the cheater an out. You are no better than the defense attorney who claims that a rape victim wanted it.

  • Hi,

    I normally don’t respond to blogs, I read and go away but u made me think and I can’t find the answer.
    I have been with my husband for 3 years but he was my best friend and we even lived together for 4 years before this.
    This was my second marriage, I broke off first one within a day as he told me he loves me on the same day.
    May be this is my karma coming back to me but I worked for 4 years and took care of finances while he opens a so called business.
    I bought gifts, food, looked after my dog alone and now that he has a job for past two months he goes out with friends, stays out.
    All this while I’m still paying for all expenses, he eats at home and then a month back I found snaps of them together from 6 months back.
    What should I do now? Stay married or leave? Where’s my credit for everything I did.? What’s my fault? That I was too independent or trusting?

    I never thought I’ll think of divorce in my life, let alone two of them, or just carry on as it is, I have a 14 pages letter re written thousand times under my pillow deciding what to write coz he does nt know I have seen the pics….

  • The only thing I would like to say is that it is never ever the victims fault the affair happened.That is terrible that you would even say that.The person having the affair took the action to do so and what ever is making them unhappy or even if they are happy and just want a thrill it is never ever the victims fault. As a wife who was betrayed by affairs etcI was loving loyal kept good house always made sure my husband was happy in all areas.Not my fault…..