January 29

Surviving Infidelity – Practical Steps To Heal the Hurt and Move On

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Tags

adultery, coping with divorce, deciding to divorce, forgiveness


Seductive woman holding a man whose back is to the camera. Surviving infidelity.Surviving infidelity. You never thought those words would apply to you.

When you first find out that your spouse has been having an affair, “survival” in any sense of the word seems questionable.  At least, that’s how it feels.

You can’t eat. You can’t sleep. All you want to do is lay in bed and cry.

If you do manage to get up and get through your day, you feel like you’re sleep walking. On the outside you may look okay. But inside, there’s nothing – just empty space.

Dealing with Your Spouse’s Affair

For some people, an affair is a “deal breaker” in their marriage. When they find out that their spouse has cheated on them, they’re done. They don’t care about reasons or rationalizations. For them, cheating means divorce.

It’s that simple.

But, for most of us, cheating isn’t that simple. Neither is divorce.

You have finances to consider – and kids! Plus, as crazy as it may be, you may find that even though your spouse cheated, you still love the louse!

So although you’re devastated, you’re not sure what you should do. You don’t even know who you should tell!

If you tell your friends that your spouse cheated, they’re going to be all up in arms! They’re going to expect you to file for divorce and go for the jugular. If you don’t file for divorce, they’re going to think you’re an idiot. They may even think you deserve what you got!

You also aren’t sure you want to share your news. The last thing you need is having everyone talking about you behind your back. “Look! There’s Suzy. I heard her husband left her for some (fill in the blank with your worst nightmare)!”

That just piles rejection on top of rejection.

Surprised cheating couple in bed now dealing with alimony, infidelity and divorce

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Your First Steps in Surviving Infidelity

The way you go about surviving infidelity depends a lot on how good or bad your marriage was before you found out about the affair. If your marriage was floundering for years, discovering that your spouse was unfaithful may come as no surprise. (That’s not to say it won’t hurt. It just may not be a big shocker.)

On the other hand, if your marriage was reasonably stable (or you thought it was reasonably stable!) the news of your spouse’s infidelity can be world-rocking!

Either way, step number one in dealing with infidelity is to find yourself a good therapist.

If your marriage has been dying a slow death for a long time, then your focus in therapy may be more about dissecting what went wrong in your marriage than in dealing with the affair per se. If the affair was simply a symptom of a bigger problem, then dealing with that bigger problem first may make sense.

If your marriage seemed okay until you discovered your spouse’s affair, however, you’ll be taking a different approach. You need to get through the shock of discovery and process your pain before you can do anything else.

Step number two in surviving your spouse’s infidelity will be deciding what kind of recovery you want to have.

The Two Types of Affair Recovery

In “A Brief Guide to Recovering From Affairs,” the late therapist and affair survivor, Peggy Vaughan noted that there are two types of affair recovery: personal recovery and marriage recovery.

Personal Recovery

Personal recovery is exactly what it sounds like. It means that, as a person, you work through, and heal from, the pain of your spouse’s affair.

To experience a personal recovery after your spouse’s affair, though, you have to do a whole lot more than just “get over it.” To really recover from an affair, you have to allow yourself to feel your feelings and work through them.

Yes, that sucks. It also takes a long time. But burying your feelings or pretending you’re okay when you’re not, can never give you a true personal recovery.

To truly recover from your spouse’s affair, you have to learn to let go. You need to let go of the anger and bitterness you feel toward your spouse. You also need to let go of being a victim.

To recover from an affair you also need to learn to forgive. You have to forgive your spouse for having an affair.  You also have to forgive yourself for supposedly not being “enough.”

Ultimately, when you recover, you grow from your experience. You turn your pain into strength.

Marriage Recovery

Marriage recovery, on the other hand, isn’t exactly what it sounds like. If all your marriage does after your spouse’s affair is stay together, you won’t have accomplished much.

Sure, on the outside, it will look like you won. You survived infidelity!

But, unless your marriage changes and grows in the aftermath of the affair, you still won’t end up being particularly happy. As a matter of fact, unless your marriage changes, there’s a pretty decent chance that either you or your spouse will go on to cheat again. Or, your marriage will die the slow, painful death that comes with resignation and regret.

Again, you may be married on paper. But your relationship will be an empty shell.

A true marriage recovery happens when a couple uses the affair to “level up” their marriage. They learn to communicate more openly and honestly with each other. They begin to talk to each other about difficult or sensitive issues without anger or criticism.

In short, they use the affair as a catalyst to deepen their connection and improve their marriage. They create a new “Marriage Version 2.0” that’s better and stronger than the marriage they had before the affair happened.

To truly turn an affair from a negative to a positive, you want to strive to have at least a personal recovery. Whether you also go for a marriage recovery depends upon whether you think the marriage is worth saving or not.

Wooden sign with an arrow pointing to "happily ever after."Can Your Marriage Recover After an Affair?

Deciding whether or not your marriage is worth saving is rarely easy. Most marriages are a combination of good and bad. What’s more, love tends to complicate more than clarify the situation.

Even though you may hate your spouse for cheating, you also may love your spouse because, well, because you love him/her!

If you still love your spouse, or you have small kids, or if you aren’t in a financial position to divorce, then working on your marriage may be more appealing to you. On the other hand, if your spouse has been abusive to you, or has a drug or alcohol problem, then even if you love him/her, getting a divorce may be worth considering.

Finally, even if you are leaning toward trying to save your marriage, you still need to consider your spouse.

If your spouse doesn’t want to work on your marriage, or if your spouse won’t end the affair, then like it or not, your marriage is over. (Sorry!)

Why is that true?

It’s true because pulling your marriage back from the brink of divorce after an affair takes work. It also takes two partners who are both committed to doing the work. If your spouse doesn’t value your marriage enough to work to save it, then what exactly are you trying to save?

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The 3 Phases of Affair Recovery

Even when both you and your spouse want to make your marriage work, recovering from infidelity is a process. It takes time, energy and an incredible amount of patience. While an affair may have lasted as little as one night, healing after an affair can take years.

What’s more, the road to recovery is NOT a straight line! As a matter of fact, you’re likely to feel like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back as you work through your post-affair issues.

That’s why it helps to understand the different phases of recovery that you will pass through as you work to heal your marriage and yourself.

According to Drs. John and Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute, there are 3 phases involved in recovering from an affair.

1. Atonement.

In the atonement stage of recovery, your spouse (i.e. the betraying spouse) must be genuinely sorry for the pain s/he has caused you. Your spouse must be empathetic toward your feelings. S/he must also take full responsibility for his/her actions without being defensive.

During the atonement process, you need to gain insight into what went wrong in your marriage without accusation or blame. That means you need to be able to talk to each other openly and honestly about everything. You also need to explore the reasons each of you wants to stay together. Most of all, you must be patient with each other during this process. According to research, the atonement process can last up to two years.

 2. Attunement.

During the attunement phase of affair recovery, you and your spouse have to commit to putting your marriage first. You also need to continue to connect with each other without falling into anger or blame.

During attunement, you will continue to work on conflict resolution and communicating with each other openly and honestly, even when it’s hard. You will also continue to work on being empathetic towards each other and seeing things from the other’s point of view.

3. Attachment.

In the attachment phase of affair recovery, you start to reconnect with each other through physical intimacy. Rebuilding a sexual connection is a key step in creating a solid attachment and a good marriage.

As Dr. John Gottman explains, “Without the presence of sexual intimacy that is pleasurable to both, the relationship can’t begin again.”

Cheating spouse wiuth hands behind his back taking off wedding ring.

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Steps to Surviving Infidelity

Whether or not you and your spouse are able to get through all 3 phases of affair recovery so you can get your marriage back on track depends on many different factors. But, at the heart of them all lies the two of you, and your commitment to each other as a couple.

Here are some specific, practical steps you and your spouse can take after an affair if you want  to help your marriage heal.

10 Steps For The Betraying Spouse

  1. End the affair now.

You can’t save your marriage if you’re only half committed to doing it. So you either go all in and cut the cord with your affair partner, or you kiss your marriage goodbye. (Sorry!)

  1. Take full responsibility for your actions.

Even if your marriage was floundering before you stepped out on your spouse, that still doesn’t justify your affair. If you aren’t willing to be 100% responsible for the affair – WITHOUT blaming your spouse for it – affair recovery becomes way more difficult.

  1. Apologize, apologize, apologize – and mean it!

Being sorry for having an affair can be surprisingly hard. If your affair lit you up like a Christmas tree and made you feel alive again for the first time in years, it’s hard to be sorry it happened. Apologizing under those circumstances can make you feel like a fraud. Yet you CAN be sorry about the pain you caused your spouse. THAT is what your spouse needs a genuine apology for.

  1. Commit to complete transparency for as long as it takes.

No good marriage can survive without trust. Yet trust is always the first casualty of an affair. Rebuilding trust will take time, work, and an enormous amount of transparency. That means you will need to share all your passwords with your spouse. You will need to give him/her access to your cell phone and your email accounts. You will also need to let your spouse know where you are and what you are doing all the time for a long time.

  1. Tell the truth.

As much as you may not want to share, you need to honestly answer EVERY question your spouse may have about the affair. If you try to avoid any question, or hide any information, your spouse will only think you’re lying again. Like it or not, you need to be willing to talk about the affair, in intimate detail, over and over again, until your spouse has had enough.

  1. Be empathetic.

Surviving an affair is similar in many ways to surviving trauma. If you can’t be empathetic about the pain your spouse is going through, the healing process will either take longer, or stall out completely.

  1. Be patient.

Your spouse may not trust you for a long, long time. S/he will continue to test your commitment to him/her and to your relationship. Your spouse will also be hypervigilant about what you’re doing and who you’re with for way longer than you think is necessary. Remember: what is or isn’t necessary is not your call. You need to give your spouse as much time as s/he needs to heal.

  1. Figure out WHY you had the affair.

What was going on in your marriage before you had the affair? While the fact that your marriage was in trouble before your affair is no excuse for having the affair, it may provide you with an explanation of your motivation. It might also be useful to examine the events leading up to your affair. Was there a point at which you could have turned away? Why didn’t you do that? What could you do in the future to stop yourself from crossing the line again?

  1. Ditch the self-blame.

Constantly being angry at yourself for what you did is not helpful. Burying yourself under a mountain of guilt changes nothing. As a matter of fact, those feelings can actually prevent you from learning from your mistakes and moving on. Get yourself a therapist. Dig into what may have caused or contributed to the affair. Then cut yourself a break and stop beating yourself up for what you did.

  1. Don’t expect quick or easy forgiveness.

If your marriage is going to recover after an affair, at some point your spouse is going to have to forgive you. Otherwise you’ll never be able to move on. But that doesn’t mean that forgiveness will come easily or quickly. As a matter of fact, your spouse may make you jump through more hoops than they have at Cirque du Soleil before forgiving you. That’s okay. Again, rebuilding trust takes time and effort. Like it or not, putting in that time and effort is your job.Guilty woman using cellphone while her boyfriend watchs. Affair recovery is hard.

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10 Steps For The Betrayed Spouse

  1. Allow yourself to have your emotions.

 Denying your emotions won’t make them go away. It will just send them scurrying underground. They WILL come out later, probably at the worst time and in the worst way. Pretending you’re not angry, hurt or upset will only make getting over those emotions take longer.

  1. Don’t make any life-altering decisions while you are in a state of shock.

It’s not unusual to feel like you’re walking around in a fog for awhile after you find out your spouse has been having an affair. Your brain is flooded with emotion and you literally can not think clearly. Making good decisions requires a clear head. So, if you can avoid it, try to minimize the amount of decisions you need to make until the fog clears. (That includes NOT deciding to get a divorce until you can thoroughly think through all of your options!)

  1. Only ask questions if you REALLY want to know the answers.

It’s only natural to want to know all the gory details about your spouse’s affair. Just remember, that you can’t “un-know” something. Getting too many intimate details about what your spouse did (and HOW s/he did it!) can create vivid negative images in your head. Those images can stay with for you a LONG time. They will also get in the way of your healing. (In other words, they will make your recovery harder.)

  1. Be honest.

If you want to get past your affair, you need to be brutally honest with your spouse and with yourself. You can’t sweep the stuff you don’t want to look at under the rug. You have to bring those tough issues out and talk about them openly. You also need to have those hard conversations with your spouse without blaming or judging your spouse or yourself. (Yes. I know that’s hard!)

  1. Take responsibility for your actions.

Your spouse’s affair was NOT your fault! But, chances are, when you go back and look at your pre-affair marriage now, you can see that there were issues you didn’t deal with at the time. You need to take responsibility for your part in any of those issues. That DOESN’T mean that those issues provided an excuse for your spouse’s cheating.  But examining what was happening in your marriage before the affair can give you valuable insight into how the affair came to be. According to Dr. Susan Heitler, the more willing you are to look at your own role in the development of the affair, the more quickly you will heal.

  1. Acknowledge your spouse’s efforts.

When you’re hurt, it’s hard to see anything your spouse does as positive. Even if you do see how hard your spouse is trying to make things right, you feel like you deserve it. Your spouse SHOULD have to work like crazy to make up for what s/he did! While that kind of thinking may be normal at first, after a while it becomes counter-productive. It makes your spouse question whether continuing to try to put your marriage back together makes sense. Inevitably, you feel that ambivalence. Then you start questioning your spouse’s commitment to your marriage. That kind of thinking throws you and your spouse into a downward spiral of negativity.

  1. Be willing to set a time limit on affair talk.

When you first discover your spouse’s affair it takes over your life. It becomes the only thing you can think about. It’s all you want to talk about. That’s normal. But, if you want to get over the affair, at some point, you’ve got to be willing to STOP OBSESSING about it. That may require a few good conversations with a therapist. It will probably require some self-discipline and it will definitely require a willingness to let go. But as long as the affair is controlling your brain, you can’t heal. You can’t move on.

  1. Be willing to forgive your spouse.

Unless you’re willing to forgive your spouse at some point, your marriage will never recover. Neither will you. The longer you hold onto your anger and desire for revenge the harder you make your own recovery from infidelity. If you hold onto your anger for too long you will become bitter. You will also drive your spouse away and doom any chance of saving your marriage.

  1. Don’t rush into forgiveness if you don’t really feel it.

Forgiving is important, but “fake forgiveness” is garbage. Rushing into “forgiving” your spouse when you’re still seething with anger is counter-productive. You have to deal with your anger first before you are ready to genuinely forgive your spouse.

  1. Be open to looking at the affair differently some day.

Human beings are meaning making machines. If you want to heal from an affair you need to change what the affair means to you. Initially you may interpret the affair as meaning that your spouse doesn’t love you. Maybe you think your spouse doesn’t even want you. When you can shift the meaning to something closer to, “that was a super painful experience, but it was a wake up call,” everything changes.Orange flower blooming in black and white winter photo signifying hope to save your marriage.

Healing the Hurt So You Can Move On

Recovering from an affair is no easy task. It takes time, effort, commitment, and a whole lot of patience.

Yet, it can be done.

You can rebuild your life after an affair. You can regain your ability to trust another human. If you and your spouse choose to rebuild the trust between yourselves in your marriage, you can do that, too. Bet even if saving your marriage isn’t in the cards for you, learning to trust again is still a worthwhile endeavor.

There is hope for surviving infidelity. There is hope for you.
_______

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  • Any advice on how to survive ‘loosing’ one’s children to (infidelity induced) divorce? (‘Loosing’ not legally, but due to the other party’s successful brainwashing efforts. Talking about adult children)

    • I’m sorry to hear that your ex has brainwashed your adult children against you. Unfortunately, your question is way too broad for me to answer intelligently. Without knowing way more (which I don’t knwo that you want to share on the interent) I don’t know what to say. Sorry.

  • Good. Stuff to read. I have been there still.I don’t even. Want to look at him or talk what’s the point.Divorce is going.2. Years almost allimony he don’t want to pay!CONTEMPT. Is in process. So now I
    He is MEAN.

    • I appreciate your article and am trying to incorporate your ideas but my hurt is so recent. My husband and I have been married 29 years. I learned a month ago that he has been cheating on me with a women he used to work with and whom he had cheated on me with 14 years ago. That affair devastated me. I told no one about it, forgave my husband and continued to have what I thought was a happy marriage. Found out accidentally when his tablet pinged with a text from her. No name but I will forever remember that phone number. It is the same. I confronted him. I can’t believe how calm I was, he admitted it and said it started last summer when she called him out of the blue. After some research on my end I know that he has been in touch with her since 2017 and to top it all off he has been giving her money off and on since then for a sum total of $8,740. He claims that he had no idea that he had been giving her that much money, that he had not been keeping track, she needed help with her mortgage, doctor bills, etc. I am hurt, livid, disgusted and not sure what I want to do. When I first found out last month about it, we committed to seeing a therapist and work on our marriage. We have our first appointment on 7/30. I love this man, but don’t know if I can ever trust him again. I have confided in a close friend because I needed some support and she has been supportive of anything I want to do ( leave or stay) and is a good shoulder to cry on. I knew that I couldn’t shove all my hurt under the rug this time and it has helped me.

      • I absolutely agree that you shouldn’t shove all your hurt under the rug. That’s never a good idea!

        Also, while having a friend who can listen to you is awesome, you also might want to get an individual therapist. S/he has more training in how to help you deal with – and heal from – the hurt you’ve experienced. I also encourage you to keep working with your marriage counselor. That will be crucial if you want to get to the bottom of what’s going on in your marriage and rebuild trust again.

        Finally, no matter what you do, give yourself time. You need time to grieve, time to process your emotions and time to heal. Once you’ve started to manage and work through your emotions, your head will start to clear. After that, you’ll be ready to take your next steps.

        Be kind to yourself.

        Best,

        Karen

  • I want to day thank you. I read every article I received from you. I even made a notebook and put my articles in tabs and cross reference as needed. This articles saved me.

    When things happened in the divorce proceedings, I wasn’t surprised cause your articles had prepared me for that situation. My divorce was finalized Jan 23, 2019 and I received more than I expected.

  • hello Karen Covy., Is there any way I can talk to you. I’m Mr. Goodman . I love your story’s, they are so precise and so true. I am going through a bitter divorce now. It’s my fault for marrying a young woman, ( big ager gap. Yes One thing I got out of this marriage was 2 Angels 2 beautiful gorges kids, But the rest of Her Cheating on me BIG time . was just a Tragedy. I never never ever hurt her or did anything wrong.. I love my kids so dearly I am such a proud dad. You would be shocked Karen if you knew why she cheated on me, Made no sense whatsoever. (tragedy ) She has not grown up yet, she is very immature. I brought her over from the Philippines sponsored her on a finance visa. made her a US Citizen, 2 beautiful kids a gift from G-d. the best food on the table. No Debt. my condo all paid off. Sent $$$ to her poor parents of the Philippines, and I live only on Social security. But I have a heart. she didn’t care , she decided to get a low life job as t a retail thrift store, a regular shopper that comes into that store everyday, as of may 2017 started to hit on my wife, passes etc. buying her gifts like the latest apple I phones- latest apple I watches. and coming home late from work lying to me, that she has a ride to not comer, and pick her up, that continued, and co workers were calling me home, and secretly telling me that to be aware that my wife is dating a black married man, and she meets with him daily, and karen this went on for a long time for about a year. etc.,. When I confronted her where are u getting all these electronics she kept on lying,. while coming home late everyday from iWork and my toddlers are hungry, and im doing all the chores, and changing diapers, at age 71, yes I said age 71 Karen. and she is 29, and the Black gigolo that’s she is dating is 54 years old, and is married to his happily wife of 68 yrs old, Yes u are probably scratching ur head karen, and saying what a Mess. My wife became a materialistic gold digger, and apple I phones the latest, and apple I watches the latest was a lot more important to her, then comin g home to a loving husband, and to love her kids, and her husband. Yes if u are wandering why did I marry at such a late age, itsw very simple Karen. I came from a broken home, poor parents. Never had a childhood, when I moved tpo las vegas at the age of 29, and have been here for over 40 years, never married. I decided to meet a philippina online, not fo0r sex, just so I can bring her to the USA, and have a companion for just love, and builds myself a little family, of which I never had, and since I made miraculously tw o beautiful kids with her, I figured why not I will hopefully let her grow and mature up to a woman, and love the kids, and stay strong,, and who wouold have guessed that she would BETRAY me, and Disrespect me, and take advantage of me, and destroy my life, and the end of the day its really all about my kids, that are getting traumatized a by all this. and now Im going through the divorce proceedings, Im at the beginning of the stage, and I originally filed for joint custody, But since Nevada is a NO fault state and a BROKEN SYSTEM. I went to mediation and I did not come to an agreement with her, because I amended my joint custody to SOLE custody, ( She doesn’t deserve these kids, she was never their for them. she is nothing but a Pretender. She is very neglectful and always absent fore these kids. now we share these kids 3/1/2 days each and the days the she has my kids, she and her lover are alienating my kids, brain washing my kids in a very extreme fashion,. My little 5 yr old Danielle on the days I have, with my little Joshua , My little Danielle states to me OH daddy I have something to tell you, and I will ask her go ahead and tell me. she says that her mom is forcing her to call her black lover married man boyfriend DADDY Thats crazy ,and a tragedy to mky kids, and emotional distress, as my kids are getting destroyed, I have told her a million times, why are you having your lover, exposed to my kids, He is NOT their father, . You are legally still married to me, you are not divorced yet, And she doesn’t get it karen. I hope to G-d the judge will hear me out, she is out of control. Oh My Poor loving kids, I pray everyday to get a a healing resolution to this mess and a horrible irresponsible decision of not knowing w marriage is all about.

    • It certainly sounds like you’ve got a mess on your hands. To keep it from becoming a bigger mess, I’ve removed the contact information you put in this comment. That is NOT the kind of information you want published on the internet.

      I really wish I could help you, but it sounds like what you need at this point is legal advice, and that’s something that I can not give outside of the state of Illnois.

      With your kids involved I STRONGLY encourage you to get a good Nevada divorce lawyer to help you. I also encourage you to truly put your kids and their best interests first. Do your best to do what’s best for them.

      I know this is hard. I can tell how messed up all of this for you and for your kids. Right now, the best thing you can do is to focus on them.

      I wish you the best.

      Karen

  • Thank you Karen. This is very helpful for me and my spouse. I will definitely follow these great insights into recovery from the affair.

  • Hi –
    I have been caught for the second time in 4 years being unfaithful to my spouse. In my heart I feel our marriage has been over for some time. We did not have much intimacy for years and years. We did not get along and our personalities clashed much more frequently. She used the term rooI feel I have used this affair as an excuse to leave the relationship because I am too much of a coward to tell her I wanted a divorce. I liked the trappings and material things, but the connection was gone. Now I have to face the music. Do you see this – people afraid to leave a relationship with courage and using an a affair to act out their dissatisfaction with the relationship?

  • Hi Karen, I have been married 9 and 1/2 years. I have helped multiple friends whose husband had cheated and every single time I would think “I’m so lucky to have my husband. One thing I’ll never have to worry about is him cheating”…. I guess you see where this is going. I just found out during a big argument that my husband whom is a truck driver sees women while on the road then ejaculating that night thinking about them instead of me while he’s away from home. Our whole marriage he would tell me that no other woman turns his interest because he loves everything about me and he is just not interested in other women when the one he has at home is more than he could ever hope for. I of course believed him over the years because when we were out together he never ever seemed to look at other women. I was hurt, but I thought I could handle that and we had a good 4th of July week as he was on vacation. One week after that bomb he decided to come clean since I took the other so well I should be able to handle his confession of having cheated on me 7 years ago while layed over for the weekend several states away. He claims he stopped it shortly after it started but the facts remain he still cheated on me. I’ve been trying so hard to tell myself that was 7 years ago, but when the confession of thinking about other women was still happening I don’t really know what to think or believe anymore and I feel like an idiot believing it truly only happened once. I feel like our whole marriage was defiled and one big lie after another. I really don’t know what to do or what not to do. Of course I don’t want to hurt our preteen, and I still love him but I am so incredibly hurt and I just don’t know how to get past that. Thank you for this article, I know I’m not the only one going through this. I feel for everyone who is or has been through the ultimate betrayal of a lifetime by one you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with.

    • Oh my! Let me start by saying that I really feel for you! I can hear how horrible you feel. I’m not surprised.

      Your husband’s first affair may have happened 7 years ago. But, you just learned about it now. So your pain is NOW. That’s why it’s so hard to let it go, even though it happened so long ago.

      The second complicating factor is that your husband has cheated on you more than once … and you just found out about that too! All in all, it’s a lot to take in!

      On the positive side, at least your husband came clean. I know that doesn’t feel particularly positive to you right now. But, because he came clean you now have the opportunity to work on getting past the infidelity rather than hiding it under the rug. I know that doesn’t feel like a very good thing right now. But if your marriage survives this, it will ultimately be stronger and better in the long run.

      Your husband needs to understand how hurt and betrayed you’re feeling. I would strongly recommend that you both start working with a good marriage counselor near you asap. Getting past any infidelity (even one that happened years ago!) takes work. It also takes time.

      Hang in there! You will get past this!

      Karen

  • Hello Karen,

    I just recently found out my fiancé had a one night stand. We are both divorced with teenage children. We have been together for six years. I discovered this cheating four months ago by finding a condom wrapper in the back seat of his car. Yes how awful!!! My children, family and friends want me to move on and meet someone new. I have been secretly still seeing my ex fiancé as he is begging for forgiveness and is remorseful. I have never been so conflicted. I started therapy last week. I am very angry, sad, depressed but I can’t seem to break it off with him for good.

    • Working with a therapist is a fabulous idea! Meanwhile, I encourage you to take everything really slow.

      I can hear how conflicted you are. When you’re in that kind of state, it’s really hard to think clearly. When you make decisions without being able to think clearly, you make mistakes. So the best thing you can do is to take everything very slow. While you do, keep your eyes open.

      I also encourage both of you to go to a relationship/marriage counselor. It doesn’t matter that you’re not married yet. You’re in a serious relationship, and that relationship has just undergone a serious breach of trust. You MUST both deal with what happened in order to be able to figure out whether or not you can put things back together again or not.

      Finally, I strongly encourage you not to marry this guy for a long time. As heartbreaking as it is to split with your fiance, as you know, splitting with a spouse is 100x worse. You need to invest some time into seeing how everything evolves.

      I wish you the best,

      Karen

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