Need advice from betrayed spouse who made their marriage work after being betrayed

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-09-2013
Need advice from betrayed spouse who made their marriage work after being betrayed
Tue, 07-09-2013 - 8:24am

I am so lost right now and I don't know what to do.  It has been two months since I first discovered my wife is having an affair and a little over a month since I asked her about it and she confessed.  I really want to forgive her and make our marriage work, but I don't know if that is even possible.  After our initial talks a month ago, she deflects any converstation on the topic of the affair right away.  She has not shown a willingness to go to couple's counseling or even counseling on her own.  I have started going to see a marriage counselor on my own since discovering since the pain is so unbareable.  I'm pretty sure she still has contact with the other guy (who is married as well) through Facebook.  He lives several states away from us, so I don't think anything physical is going on that this point, but they are probably still chatting intimately online and probably Skyping too while I'm at work.

I would really like things to go back to the way they used to be, not only for the sake of our children, but because I love her.  Is there anyone out there who has been betrayed and was successful at rebuilding their marriage in the awake of an affair?  How long does it take for the pain not to consume you?  How long does is take to have any sense of trust in your spouse?  Is there any hope at all, or is this just a pipe dream?  Any insight would be greatly appreciated.


Avatar for khatru1
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2004

I am not a betrayed spouse and I don't know how much insight I can give you but I do know one thing. If your spouse is unwilling to own up to what she did and move toward seeking forgiveness and counseling to repair your marriage, I do not think there is any chance to make it work. In your case she in fact seems to be going the other direction, by staying in touch with the other man.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2007
I'm a betrayed spouse who managed to successfully rebuild my marriage. I am in the process of leaving to do some errands right now so I can't go into much detail. I just wanted to let you know you are not alone. Rebuilding is doable but it is a long process. It doesn't sound as if your W is ready yet, though, which makes it harder...not impossible...just harder. TTYL.

Nothing has any meaning save the meaning I give it.

Avatar for pater_familia
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2008


My name is Tom. I've been there. I'm so sorry. This is a nightmare. There are things you can do, but there is a great deal of things that, from here on out, is her decision. Three things are very important for you to understand. They call them the three "Cs."

1. You didn't Cause this.
2. You can't Control this.
3. You can't Cure this. 

All you can do is take care of yourself.

Hurt, my spouse had three affairs in the space of about six months and a forth about two years earlier. I did the whole thing, I called the men, I followed my spouse around the house asking why, I banned her from an entire county. I almost killed myself. I did a lot of stuff wrong. I also learned to do stuff right.

Can I share some advice? It may sound stupid, but I'm telling you, this is the honest trick. 

Breath! Take a step back and let the oxygen flow in and out. 

Eat! You have really big decisions to make. I lost over thirty LBS after I found out. You probably aren't eating or taking care of yourself. Force yourself to eat healthy food, no junk food right now. This will give you an edge in allowing yourself to feel just a little bit better while you make really hard choices. 

Work out! Leg lifts, crunches, pushups, walking or joging, will help you work off some of the stress. I went from 15 pushups to 70. Usually saying one of the man's names toward the end allowing my hate to flow and get those last few reps in. This does two things. Relieves stress and rebuilds our shattered self-esteem which makes us attractive again. 

Stop talking about the affair! Let her know that you are interested in working things out, but it is now in her court. Then move on. Start preparing to live alone. No matter what is screaming in the back of your head, don't say it, chin up, start working toward your new life, she is welcome to come along, but under new terms. No other man, no secrets, and she has to live up to YOUR bottom line. You are happy to listen to complaints within your marriage such as you watching less TV or doing more housework. These are fair complaints, but no more taking about the affair unless you are both in a shrinks office. If she can't do this, then it is time to move on. This is not a plan for divorce; this is a plan to save your marriage. Showing that you are willing to address your stuff, that you have had your wakeup call, and you are going to fix yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But you are not going to live with a spouse having an affair. Once she knows this is in her court and you are taking steps to move on with your life. You will be making yourself attractive. If she doesn't return to you, someone else will. If she is worth having, she will quickly get this and a spouse that returns on your terms is so much better than a spouse that returns because you begged her. This is basic divorce busting. This is really hard stuff. You can do it! Respect yourself and she will also. 

No alcohol. Time to be sober. As the saying goes. Feelings Buried Alive Never Die. Face this stuff sober and head on. Allowing yourself to feel the pain, all the pain, is actually the shortcut. 

Get yourself into a shrink, even if she doesn’t. This is out of your league. We need an expert to help us here.

Read! A very fine book on the subject is “Getting Past the Affair: A guide to cope, with or Without Your Spouse.” I read ten books, this was the best one. If you can get her to read it, that would be a home run.

Hurt, This is going to take a long time. This "hurt" is for the long haul, I'm really sorry to say that deep emotional scaring takes about two years to get past. The knot in my stomic didn't start to loosen for almost six months. I promise you though. There is life after this. Fix you, work on you, take care of you and no matter what, this is going to be ok. I promise. 

Chin up, You can do this!


We have five kids. Our D-Day was in August, 2008.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-09-2013

Thank you very much Tom.  Thank you for sharing your story.  I can't imagine that it was easy of you.  I appreciate the in-depth insight.

A lot of thing you talked about are things that I am going through right now.  I dropped 15 lbs since learning of the affair, 10 of which were in the first week when I had no appetite.  I have started exercising and working on myself emotionally.  I am seeing a marriage counselor on my own and I have probably done more sit-ups in the last week than I have done the entire length of my marriage.  I have not had a drop of alcohol since learning of the affair.

The thing that I can't do is to stop thinking about it all of the time.  I find myself zoning out at working and starting to think about it.  Whether it's the pain itself, or the second guessin myself and blaming myself, or the wondering if she is online chatting with him right now, or the feelings of no self worth.  I don't feel like a man right not.  I feel completely emasulated.  The thought of my wife seeking emotional and sexual satisfaction from another man is unbareable.  Logically, I know it will take time to heal, but it's hard for me to look at this logically when I'm consumed with so many emotions.

I also appreciate the other responses it my original post.  To the one person who has not gone through something like this, I would be saying the exact same things prior to going through this.  Heck, most of my thoughts these day on the future of my marriage are very bleek.  With my wife continuing to stay in contact with the other man, I can see that the odds are not in my favor.  I've done a lot of soul searching when I first learned of the affair.  I have come to the conclusion that dispite everything that has happened and all of the pain I am feeling, I still love my wife.  We had some good times together and we have two beautiful children together.  It would have been easier for me to deal with the pain by walking away from my marriage, but I can't do that.  I love my wife too much and my children too much to not at least try to power through the pain and re-build my marriage.  I know it's an uphill battle when my wife is still in the "falling in love" stage of her fling where I'm sure in her mind that this guy is perfect, dispite the fact he is cheating on his wife as well and risking his family as well.

Avatar for pater_familia
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2008

I'm sorry for what you are going through. 

Sounds like you are doing a lot of the right things already. Keep it up. I found that there was a lot to learn and that when I was going through this, I could only digest a small amount of information at a time. I would ask my spouse a question and she would answer, but I could only take in a portion of what she was saying, so I would ask a question again and she would say, "I've answered that." But I couldn't hear some of what she had said because it was just too much to take in. You might consider writing her a letter and ask that she write you one back in response. That way you can both deconstruct what each other is saying over a period of time. Digesting information a bit at a time. It also solves the wall issue. When I would try and say something, the wall between us was so thick that nothing I said got through. A letter solved this issue. 

ON this list we push the 180 method. I know some of this won't make sense right now, but could you trust a verteran and know that this is tried and true. This is your chance to get your spouse back and here is some of the best wisdom to do so. Two years from now, you will facepalm and say, Yep, this was genious!!!


<<"180 is a list of behaviors from Michelle Wiener Davis, the author of Divorce Busting, that will help your spouse to see you moving forward as a healthy person. 180 makes you look strong. Strong is attractive">>

So here's the list:
1. Don't pursue, try to reason, chase, beg, plead or implore.
2. No frequent phone calls.
3. Don't point out "good points" in marriage.
4. Don't follow her/him around the house.
5. Don't encourage or initiate any discussion about the future.
6. Don't ask for help from the family members of your WS.
7. Don't ask for reassurances.
8. Don't buy or give gifts.
9. Don't schedule dates together.
10. Don't keep saying, "I Love You!" Because if you have a brain in your head, he/she is at this particular moment, not very loveable.
11. Do more then act as if you are moving on with your life; begin moving on with your life!!!!
12. Be cheerful, strong, outgoing and independent.
13. Don't sit around waiting on your spouse - get busy, do things, go out with friends, enjoy old hobbies, find new ones! But stay busy!
14. When home with your spouse, (if you usually start the conversation) be scarce or short on words. Don't push any issue? No matter how much you want to!
15. If you're in the habit of asking your spouse his/her whereabouts, ASK NOTHING. Seem totally uninterested.
16. Your partner needs to believe that you have awakened to the fact that "they (the WS)" are serious concerning their assertions as to the future (or lack there of) of your marriage. Thus, you are you are moving on with your life with out them!
17. Don't be nasty, angry or even cold - Just pull yourself back. Don't always be so available for anything! Your spouse will notice. More important, he/she will notice that you're missing.
18. No matter what you are feeling TODAY, only show your spouse happiness and contentment. Make yourself be someone they would want to be around. Not a moody, needy, pathetic individual but a self assured individual secure in the knowledge that they have value.
19. All questions about the marriage should be put on hold, until your spouse wants to talk about it (which may not be for quite a while). Initiate no such conversation!
20. Do not allow yourself to lose your temper. No yelling, screaming or name calling EVER. No show of temper! Be cool, act cool; be in control of the only thing you can control- YOURSELF!
21. Don't be overly enthusiastic.
22. Do not argue when they tell you how they feel (it only makes their feelings stronger). In fact, refuse to argue at all!
23. Be patient and learn to not only listen carefully to what your spouse is really saying to you. HEAR what it is that they are saying! Listen and then listen some more!
24. Learn to back off, keep your mouth shut and walk away when you want to speak out, no matter what the provocation. No one ever got themselves into trouble by just not saying anything.
25. Take care of you. Exercise, sleep, laugh & focus on all the other parts of your life that are not in turmoil.
26. Be strong, confident and learn to speak softly.
27. Know that if you can do this 180, your smallest CONSISTENT action will be noticed far more than any words you can say or write.
28. Do not be openly desperate or needy even when you are hurting more than ever and are feeling totally desperate and needy.
29. Do not focus on yourself when communicating with your spouse. It's not always about you! More to the point, at present they just don't care!
30. Do not believe any of what you hear them say and less than 50% of what you see. Your spouse will speak in absolute negatives and do so in the most strident tones imaginable. Try to remember that they are also hurting and afraid. Try to remember that they know what they are doing is wrong and so they will say anything they can to justify their behavior.
31. Do not give up no matter how dark it is or how bad you feel. It "ain't over till it's over!"
32. Do not backslide from your hard earned changes. Remain consistent! It is the consistency of action and attitude that delivers the message.
33. When expressing your dissatisfaction with the actions of the wayward party, never be judgmental, critical or express moral outrage. Always explain that your dissatisfaction is due to the pain that the acts being committed are causing you as a person.

Hurt, If your spouse were to walk in front of a bus tomorrow, having prepared to live without her would be the best advice. Preparing to live without her because she might not come back, is just wise. Doing this list will prepare you for whatever happens and it will make you an attractive healthy person.

Chin up! 


We have five kids. Our D-Day was in August, 2008.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-02-2002

Dear Hurt,

I too am a BS and went thru a terribly difficult time.  I couldn't eat, sleep, and could barely get thru a work day.  But I chose to quickly seek out a psychiatrist who put me on paxil and recommended group and individual therapy.  I sunk to new lows during those first few weeks because I so desperately wanted my life back as it once had been.  However after a few weeks on medication I began to get stronger.  I was able to see things with clarity and return somewhat to the strong woman I once was.  I was able to sleep again and not fall to my knees.  Finally I was able to say to him 'if she is what you want then good luck!'  This was the turning point.  I spoke reasonably about our situation.  I realized why he had turned to another person and my role in our disinegrating marriage.  I began to have the upper hand, determining my future, not waiting around for his decision.

Soon, we started having heart to heart talks and he finally got rid of her.  We have been married twenty years now and he is still the love of my life, and I am his.  

He wasn't interested in all the therapy and "making it work" at first.  I fell apart, then realized I needed to help myself.  Once I was in a emotionally balanced place, I could think rationally and make my own decsions.  If your partner is not willing to get help, then at least you should.  Meds saved my life.  Please seek help for you.  The rest will fall into its rightful place.  And you will be able to deal with it.

I am so very sorry for your pain.  You are not alone.  And it will get better.  Promise.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-12-2010
I am a recovered BS. I found out about my DH's A five years ago this month. I have to disagree with Peter about stop talking about the A. My DH gave me full disclosure. He gave me every dirty little secret he hid from me the eight months he was shagging the xow. I had to know the entire truth. It helped me to heal in a way that you wouldn't believe. Of course I was mad as h*ll for at least two years but my DH did EVERYTHING to prove to me that he wanted me and our M. We went to counseling and my DH went to individual counseling. He found out what in him gave him permission to cheat and we discovered loop holes in our M which allowed another person to enter our M. We worked on our M and he worked hard on himself and we fixed what was broken. Also, something really important that helped us is exposing their A. The OW's DH should be told. Exposure takes away the excitement of it being hidden. Of course you are going to think about it everyday but if you work on yourself soon you will realize that something was broken in your W which caused her to stray. I thought we had a great M pre-A but we realized that my DH traveling brought out loneliness in him and some resentment in me. My DH doesn't travel alone for work and would rather quit his job and find a new one before he does and we have a better M than I ever thought imaginable. Get help for yourself and concentrate on you and your children if your W isn't willing to make amends for cheating. The biggest thing I discovered after my DH's A is that I am a whole person with or without him. While I love him so much that I love breathing "his air" I can also walk away from him if he EVER betrays me again. I feel so blessed to have had him in my life and every day we make the best of our M. To recover from an A, it takes the WS to be more than willing to make right of the wrong that they have done. If not, your efforts are wasted. You can be a great father with our without being M to your W.
Avatar for pater_familia
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2008
Terrific posts, well said.


We have five kids. Our D-Day was in August, 2008.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-09-2013

Thank you all for sharing your experiences with me.  This has been very helpful.  It's making me realize that I am not alone, and it's also giving me some hope seeing that you have been able to have your marriages continue for years after the affairs.

Ivil_Newbeginnings, I had not given much thought as to finding a way to expose the affair to the other man's wife lately.  I first thought that I would like to ruin this guy's life and find a way to expose him to his wife.  Then when my pain set in, I thought about the pain his wife would feel if the affair was exposed.  I didn't want to be the cause of this type of pain for anyone else.  However, now I'm realizing that I wouldn't be the cause of this pain.  This guy and my wife are the cause for this pain for me and would be for her as well.  Could you please elaborate on how exposing your husband's affair with the other woman's husband helped in your situation?  Of course, since I don't know the other man's name, I don't exactly know how I would be able to expose his affair.  I know people I my wife's life that know who he is, but I doubt any of them would tell me who he is.

Lisachilene, how were you able to get up the courage to tell your husband "if she is what you want then good luck!"?  I've been running through what I want to say to my wife for my expectations going forward for our marriage and thing that I am going to need from her.  Things like the affair must end, contact with the other man must end, a willingness to work on the issues either together in couple counseling or individually through conseling, etc.  However, I am so afraid that when I bring this up, she is going to leave me.

My counselor encouraged me to write down my list of things I need going forward and I have done this.  I just feel confronting her with this list will seem like a list of demands versus a list of things I need in order to start to trust again and in order to forgive.  It's not like I expect things to change overnight, but they can't go on being unaddressed forever either.  I guess another post I saw on this site under another thread has spooked me.  It was a woman who cheated on her husband who admitted that she became sick of her husband bring up her affair so she told him the other man was bigger and better in bed.  With my self esteem as low as it is right now, I don't think I could take something like that or take my wife telling me that it's over, she chooses the other man.  But at the same time, I am so sick of holding in all of my feeling at home and only being able to release them in the counselor's office or here on these board.  I am so sick for crying everyday.  There has not been one day that has gone by since my wife admitted to the affair when I confronted her that I haven't cried at some point in that day.

Avatar for pater_familia
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2008

As for replaying events in your head. This is going to take a while. This is very normal and awful. 


Look, there are no shortcuts here. My spouse's main other man transferred his job and I have had to drive past his work, everyday since. That was almost five years ago. Now, almost five years later, I think I drive past that place hundreds of times without thinking about him or what happened but back then; I would start to cry every time I did. 

I got pieces of healing from different places. I got some from the shrink, some from these boards, some from books and some from my spouse herself. Wherever you can draw wisdom from, you should do that. To get from here to where you will find peace is unfortunatly on you, and there are no shortcuts. 

To stop thinking about it, I found that there are a few things that you have to do. You might get your hands on a book called Authentic Happiness by Seligman (page 79). His section on forgiveness was very useful to me. He talks about very carefully and thoughtfully allows yourself to walk through everything you know about what your spouse and the other man have done. Let the awfulness of it wash over you. Allow yourself this one time to accept what happened as reality, to feel all of the hurt. When you are ready, after you have accepted what has happened, after you have felt all of the pain.

Set the hurt down, let it go, and walk away.

About the year mark, I still could not go more than a few days without thinking about what those men did to me amd my family, someone on the boards gave me some advice, and I began writing on the back of my thumb in pen. “NO TIME.” Those other men hurt me, and they no longer deserved any more time in my head, so when I began awfulizing about them, I would look at my thumb and remind myself that they were not worth my time, they had already stolen too much.

Taking a step back, you deserve to, and should, know the following as you take steps toward healing yourself. Who is the other man, when did the afair starte, is it is still going on, when did it end, was there touching, was there sex, is it over? 

To protect yourself, don’t let your spouse tell you more than this. This will only cause more problems with the visualizations. Trust me on this. Stick to just the above basics. 


We have five kids. Our D-Day was in August, 2008.