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Marriage After an Affair - Leave or Stay?


Wife Discovers Husband's AffairHere's some valuable advice for the many of you struggling after an affair. Trying to decide if you should leave the marriage or stay? 

Read this wisdom from a wife who's marriage went through the affects of an affair. This is from Carolyn Hax's column, After an Affair, Forgiveness is Possible -- and Liberating, in The Washington Post:

On choosing not to divorce a spouse who cheated:

It was a rough road for us for a couple of years, but when my husband finally died after 35 years of marriage, I was so thankful we worked it out. I guess the biggest help to me was when I realized that his cheating wasn't about sex (our sex life was great); it was about filling a need where he was lacking, and sex was the solution he chose. I, too, still loved my husband, although never the same way as before the affair, but I know I would have never been happy with anyone else.

One of the things I would change if I could is this: I deliberately held a part of myself back from him for the rest of our married life. He knew it and accepted it; however, the year before he died (he had cancer), I knew there was nothing he could do that would hurt me more than his dying, and so I let myself love him 100 percent. It was the happiest, most wonderful feeling I have ever had. All those years when I was subconsciously punishing him, I was also punishing myself.

It will be the hardest work you will ever do, but if you hang in there and you both work at it, it will be worth it.

She's right -- repairing a marriage after an affair is really, really hard work, but it's also really worth it. Many couples I've worked with in marriage counseling after an affair would confirm this truth and agree that the right choice is not to divorce a spouse who's cheated, but to stay and work it out.

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My husband has an affair 7 years ago. We had been married for 3 years and I was pregnant at the time, and it was with a friend of mine. Needless to say, I was shattered. I chose to stay because he seemed deeply remorseful and willing to do whatever it took to stay together. We have worked very hard at getting over the affair and moving on with our lives. Now, we have a seemingly nice relationship, we date and take care of each other and our family.However, my advice to any victim of infidelity is this: if you can leave, do it, and don't look back. You will never be able to forget. It will haunt you the rest of your life. It is like having a big black cloud hanging over you. In the midst of incredibly happy moments, the realization that the love of your life defiled your marriage and disrespected you in the worst way will overshadow you, even subconsciously. Leave if you can, even with kids. The bible also states that divorcing after infidelity is OK. I think people that say their marriages are better after infidelity are lying to themselves. Think of it this way, if you had a loyal dog for years that one day mauled you out of the blue, would you trust it or feel safe with it again?
Posted @ Sunday, November 03, 2013 9:59 PM by blue
Blue is completely right. Leave the marriage if you can. I tried for months to save my marriage after he cheated. We we went to counseling and tried really hard. But I found myself in panic attacks daily wondering if he really was where he says he was. The trust was gone. I knew our love would never be the same again... 
I'm much happier now that we divorced & I started fresh with someone truthful in my life.
Posted @ Monday, August 11, 2014 2:13 AM by Whittney
Whittney, Glad to hear you're in a better place now. Racing thoughts can be stopped and trust can be rebuilt, so leaving the marriage isn't the only option. -Kurt
Posted @ Monday, August 11, 2014 9:42 AM by Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC
I am at a crossroads. My spouse has been cheating on me with multiple partners for more than 7 years. Maybe he was trying to emulate Tiger Woods. It began after a military deployment. We had been married for 8 years when his affairs began and I became pregnant around that time. We waited to start our family and then when it started, he started cheating. He is an introverted person, also an alcoholic. He says he cheated because we had no communication. Interesting because I have to interview him to get him to talk about anything, he is so quiet and moody. I used to be a journalist, but sometimes you want to not have to work so hard to get any sort of important or even mundane info out of your parter. I don't know if I would stay with him if he asks, and he hasn't. I thought I was just married to a quiet guy and I truly thought I loved him and loved me. He never had been really affectionate, so I thought nothing was wrong. But he has been leading a secret life where is believes he has achieved Adonis-like status. Since I found out about the affairs, from the husband of the latest girlfriend, who happens to be a cop with a vendetta, I was basically forced out of our home and now our daughter and I are living with my mother in a different state with better schools and better jobs. I hadn't had a job in a year because where we were stationed for the military, it was a tiny rural place with limited work. I am scared because I am financially dependent on him and can't even afford a lawyer. The cop has told the military and they are threatening to kick my husband out which means he loses 19 years and all retirement benefits. The cop has also filed a civil suit, as well. If things go south, my husband will be lucky to get a job at McDonalds. I am hoping to get a job that will be able to take care of our daughter and me and possibly pay numerous legal fees. And that's even before we get to the divorce part of this. He won't talk to me about the infidelity, as he needs to focus on the cases, which I understand, but it is difficult for me to be patient. He did say he wants an open marriage and this is his lifestyle now. I have no idea who this person is. He had a visitation with our daughter yesterday and at night, he crashes on a 'friend's' couch. What a mess, a catastrophe, really. I am trying to rebuild my life, but I do want to encourage him to get evaluated and into a treatment program to handle what I suspect is PTSD, sex and alcohol addiction. Even though he has asked me to 'stay by his side' during the legal proceedings like a good wife, I don't think he has any intention of going to marital counseling following the results of the cases, as planned. I don't think traditional marital counseling would work for us, anyway. I am trying to see what I did wrong. I am not perfect, but what did I do to cause him to 'play,' as he puts it, with singles, couples, groups, at whore houses, sex clubs, and the lot? There is no way I could have provided as much sex to equal what he was getting on the side. I am only one person. And until this last year when I hadn't found a job, I worked full-time and had a young child as well as managed the home. Here I was asking him for more couple time when we could fit it in, and I guess he wasn't all that interested because he had all his women. It is hard for me throw away 15 years of marriage, but I am not sure if this was a marriage. I think he just wanted a maid and nanny out of me. He told me he loves me, and the others are just sex partners. Typical woman, I equate sex with love and intimacy. Should I make plans to leave or stay in my separated state and see if he gets some treatment, stops being so selfish and learns what it means to be a real man, a real spouse, and a real father in the real (not fantasy world of his) world?
Posted @ Sunday, September 07, 2014 6:19 PM by Elena
Elena, You have some good insights into your marriage and behavior. Focus on his actions. If he starts to make changes and stays with them, then maybe give him some more time. If he doesn't change, then your choices are clear and you just need to pick one. -Kurt
Posted @ Monday, September 08, 2014 2:43 PM by Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC
So, I know I maybe jumped on, but I am the person who cheated. I was so tired of being ignored, my feelings and desires were ignored. I wanted a divorce but he kept saying that money prevented it. I kept on and eventually, I got upset and went out because he was faking sick to not have to be intimate with me. I just went for a drive and a friend called me, inviting me to a party. I went, never expecting anything to happen, however, I drank and I made a mistake. At the time, the mistake felt good, like I was free of the domination, his critical nature, and how I was not good enough. I felt free. It started a two year period of what I now call evil. I had a few partners and I pretended I was not a christian and that I could do whatever I wanted. I pretended that what I was getting was love. I was not loved or respected. I was used and discarded after some time. I asked for a divorce from my husband and two days later my father passed away from his second heart attack. I felt I was being punished, I felt that life was aweful and that no matter what, everything ends up bad.  
After I asked for a divorce and told him that I was going to file the next Monday, he was actually trying to fix it. It felt like too little too late, when my father passed, he was emotional about the loss, he was there for my mother and me. I saw a side of him that I had not seen in a while. We went to counseling, and worked through things. However, it has been about 4 years and things are almost as bad as they once were, I am not cheating, I have no desire to, but I am hurting, I feel ugly, fat, disgusting and unloved. He has not passionately kissed me since the night we were married. I am not so focused on the sex, in the big scheme of things, it won't last forever. I want to be hugged, held, touched, loved, cuddled... which is what I have asked for, for years... I have been very clear in what my need are, he just does not seem to care. I am on depression medications because I cannot handle the hurt, pain and anxiety. I have PTSD from a couple things that happened when I was in the service, but most of my problems with depression come from feeling worthless. (I am in counseling, so don't worry there... but I am sharing because cheating is not a one-sided thing, there are reasons why people cheat, and yes they shouldn't but when your words fall on deaf ears and you try to act to show what you want, what else can you do? I have resigned myself that I will never be truly happy in my marriage and I still wonder if I should divorce him, but I think about what if I saw him with someone else, could I handle that? Which the answer is no... so I stay, faithful (now and forever), and pray everyday that God change me to not need the physical touch, hugs, kisses and love that I feel I need, or He changes my husband to see that he is leaving me feeling worthless.)
Posted @ Friday, September 12, 2014 1:49 AM by Rika
Rika, Thank you for your honesty and courage in sharing another side of cheating. One wrong does not justify another, and it's good that you recognize that. We can have understanding of what contributed to you cheating without saying it was right or okay. -Kurt
Posted @ Saturday, September 13, 2014 11:08 AM by Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC
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