Would You Tell Your SO About An Affair After It 'Ended'? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 68 Old 10-03-2012, 04:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by limabean View Post

 

I see what you're saying, but I think the point of the poster you quoted was more that, while marital issues can be a huge contributing factor to the decline or dissolution of a marriage, making the choice to specifically have an affair lies squarely on the shoulders of the adulterer. They could have chosen to leave the marriage first, in other words, rather than cheat on their partner. 

 

I have mixed feelings about it. I do agree that the choice to cheat is ultimately on the cheater....but I don't necessarily agree with Mulvah's stance that the betrayed spouse has nothing to do with the affair. While my emotional affair with dh didn't turn physical until after the breakup, even the emotional part would never have happened, if my ex hadn't beaten me down so badly, emotionally. I don't just mean that I was miserable and needed someone. I mean that he'd turned all my values and beliefs and everything upside-down and inside-out. Marriage problems can mean the normal ups and downs of married life, but they can also mean various forms of abuse, and that kind of thing can seriously warp the other party's thinking. I can remember thinking things back then that make me shake my head and go "WTF?" now...but they made sense at the time.


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#62 of 68 Old 10-03-2012, 04:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BabyMae09 View Post

I I think that sometimes the issue of the cheater might be seen as ego, or entitlement, when really it could be that they are feeling so lonely in their marriage they feel like they could die.

 

 

 

yep. The pattern for people we know is that someone has given up on the marriage (or given up on their needs ever being met in the marriage), but staying for reasons such as the children. Then they meet someone. It's messy. It's painful. Sometimes it brings the problems in the marriage to a head and they can be worked through. Sometimes the  person having the affair has already checked out so much they no longer want to try.

 

When I was younger, I felt a lot of judgment toward people who cheated on their spouse. Now, I just feel sad for everyone. Something about my DH and I make us safe people for others to confide in, and to hear someone's heartbreak who is on either side of this is just overwhelming. One of my DH's friends cheated on his wife and broke his marriage, and for the next 2 years we were worried he would kill himself. He was miserable in his marriage, but the guilt of not living up to his own personal standards and knowing how much he hurt his children and ex wife (even though he didn't love her anymore) nearly tore him apart.

 

Another of my DH's friends is newly single because his wife, who he loved and hope to grow old with, left him for another man. In hindsight, he feels he had been a really horrible husband for the last couple of years and knows that she had made it clear that she wasn't happy. But he thought she would just stick around and be unhappy. He was also suicidal for awhile.

 

The people we know who've been through this aren't horrible people. They are just humans who screwed up and paid a terrible price. I think getting stuck in the judgment limits our own ability to look honestly at ourselves and our marriages and get real about the weak parts. Most of the posts on here don't address the question -- what would YOU do if YOU had an affair. For most of it, it is unthinkable that we would fail in such a way. Yet, I know people who've have failed in this exact way who believed, just like we believe, that they never would.

 

Having seen what I've seen and heard what I've heard, I don't think people take really nurturing their marriages nearly seriously enough. Many people are so busy with either their jobs or their kids or both they are they really clueless about what their partner is experiencing. Some people see all sort of flags in the marriage, but opt to ignore them for a wide variety of reasons. They know that they know they have seriously marital problems and they know their spouse isn't all that way into the marriage at this point, yet they've figured out some way to have a level of OKness about that.

 

The best thing that could come out of this thread is for us to collectively check in on our own marriages and take them up a level. To sit down with our spouse and really listen. And really talk honestly from our hearts. To do something fun with our spouse that we enjoy doing together -- people who have fun together usually stay together.

 

It's really hard to tend a marriage with small children. Very hard, but it's still important.

 

yes, every person is responsible for their behavior. None the less, a spouse isn't a slave. We don't own them. They can leave. They can meet another person. And so could we. Since the point when my DH and I got really clear on that, our marriage has really thrived. We quit taking each other for granted. We check in with each other often. We carve out time for the 2 of us. Our collective moment of clarity that our marriage is fragile (because ALL marriages are fragile) and should be treated with care paved the way for a more loving relationship than we had before.

 

I don't know -- may be you have to watch a couple that you know really well who you know at one point really loved each other go through this to get it -- it really can happen to any couple. No one has immunity.

 

BTW, some of the posts imply that men are the ones who cheat. In our circle of friends, it's been pretty mixed between the husbands and the wives. I don't see this as a gender issue at all.

 

The OPer didn't ask about spouses who cheat as a habit or are constantly on the make. That is the sort of behavior that comes from ego. For the most part, an isolated affair is much more about what is broken with the marriage.

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#63 of 68 Old 10-03-2012, 05:00 PM
 
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Most of the posts on here don't address the question -- what would YOU do if YOU had an affair. For most of it, it is unthinkable that we would fail in such a way. Yet, I know people who've have failed in this exact way who believed, just like we believe, that they never would.

 

You're right. That's what prompted me to post my "never say never" thread -- I was thinking about how I bet most people who cheat would have sworn they would never do that. And yet, I still feel like I would never do that...

 

It makes me think of a conversation I had with a friend recently about parents who forget their child is in the car and the child dies of heatstroke. Her stance is that parents to whom that happens are Bad People, and that there's something majorly wrong with you if you're capable of forgetting your child. My stance is that it's a horrible, horrible thing ... that can happen to anyone if just the right circumstances align in just the right way, and that refusing to acknowledge that could make us foolhardy, because we might not implement safety measures (such as keeping our purse in the backseat) if we believe ourselves to be immune to the problem by virtue of being a Good Parent. 

 

So yeah, I can see your point. And yet it still seems impossible that I could ever, ever make the decision to cheat on my partner. That just feels like such an absolutely foreign concept to me. But maybe I should work on not painting cheaters with a simple "Bad Person" brush. 


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#64 of 68 Old 10-03-2012, 05:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

When I was younger, I felt a lot of judgment toward people who cheated on their spouse. Now, I just feel sad for everyone. Something about my DH and I make us safe people for others to confide in, and to hear someone's heartbreak who is on either side of this is just overwhelming. One of my DH's friends cheated on his wife and broke his marriage, and for the next 2 years we were worried he would kill himself. He was miserable in his marriage, but the guilt of not living up to his own personal standards and knowing how much he hurt his children and ex wife (even though he didn't love her anymore) nearly tore him apart.

 

Another of my DH's friends is newly single because his wife, who he loved and hope to grow old with, left him for another man. In hindsight, he feels he had been a really horrible husband for the last couple of years and knows that she had made it clear that she wasn't happy. But he thought she would just stick around and be unhappy. He was also suicidal for awhile.

 

The people we know who've been through this aren't horrible people. They are just humans who screwed up and paid a terrible price. I think getting stuck in the judgment limits our own ability to look honestly at ourselves and our marriages and get real about the weak parts. Most of the posts on here don't address the question -- what would YOU do if YOU had an affair. For most of it, it is unthinkable that we would fail in such a way. Yet, I know people who've have failed in this exact way who believed, just like we believe, that they never would.

 

Having seen what I've seen and heard what I've heard, I don't think people take really nurturing their marriages nearly seriously enough. Many people are so busy with either their jobs or their kids or both they are they really clueless about what their partner is experiencing. Some people see all sort of flags in the marriage, but opt to ignore them for a wide variety of reasons. They know that they know they have seriously marital problems and they know their spouse isn't all that way into the marriage at this point, yet they've figured out some way to have a level of OKness about that.

 

The best thing that could come out of this thread is for us to collectively check in on our own marriages and take them up a level. To sit down with our spouse and really listen. And really talk honestly from our hearts. To do something fun with our spouse that we enjoy doing together -- people who have fun together usually stay together.

 

It's really hard to tend a marriage with small children. Very hard, but it's still important.

 

yes, every person is responsible for their behavior. None the less, a spouse isn't a slave. We don't own them. They can leave. They can meet another person. And so could we. Since the point when my DH and I got really clear on that, our marriage has really thrived. We quit taking each other for granted. We check in with each other often. We carve out time for the 2 of us. Our collective moment of clarity that our marriage is fragile (because ALL marriages are fragile) and should be treated with care paved the way for a more loving relationship than we had before.

 

I don't know -- may be you have to watch a couple that you know really well who you know at one point really loved each other go through this to get it -- it really can happen to any couple. No one has immunity.

 

BTW, some of the posts imply that men are the ones who cheat. In our circle of friends, it's been pretty mixed between the husbands and the wives. I don't see this as a gender issue at all.

 

The OPer didn't ask about spouses who cheat as a habit or are constantly on the make. That is the sort of behavior that comes from ego. For the most part, an isolated affair is much more about what is broken with the marriage.

 

I had a long post, but it's fairly unproductive. I agree with a lot of what you've said here, but I still disagree about the telling part of it. Screwing up is human. Lying about it is human, too. But, two wrongs don't make a right.

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#65 of 68 Old 10-04-2012, 08:49 AM
 
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I liked that post alot as well.  I, too, have seen affairs up close from couples I never would have originally expected.  I wonder how many times, before someone actually leaves the marriage in divorce, someone has already checked out or left the marriage emotionally and/or physically?  I would tell (and want to be told) because I think this is a really big step that may lead to someone leaving for good.  

 

Telling certainly doesn't abdicate responsibility for looking closely at your marriage, checking in frequently, etc.  All of that is crucially important day to day, I agree.  But if you do all that constant open communication only to lie about an affair?  Why is it good to be honest about the small stuff only?  Because it's painful, but less so?  I don't know...I'm still inclined toward telling.


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#66 of 68 Old 10-04-2012, 11:04 AM
 
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I liked that post alot as well.  I, too, have seen affairs up close from couples I never would have originally expected.  I wonder how many times, before someone actually leaves the marriage in divorce, someone has already checked out or left the marriage emotionally and/or physically?  

 

Well, I did have an emotional affair in my first marriage. I couldn't have taken it to the physical level without ending my marriage first (I know this from experience), but I can see how it happens, in some cases. I hadn't checked out, exactly...but my ex-husband had. I was exhausted - beyond exhausted - from trying to hold a marriage (and household, as I was also handling the housekeeping, childcare and financial details) together by myself. But, it definitely wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been miserable already.

 

I get how it can sneak up on someone, because, looking back, I was radiating a receptive vibe to men around me in a way that I definitely wasn't when the marriage was still working. I had no idea I was doing it until long after the fact, though.

 

I will say that I have trouble with the "he/she left her/him for another woman/man" stuff, though. Lots of people said that about me. It wasn't true. I broke it off with my ex before I'd even met dh in person, and before I had any idea if we'd work out or not. I left him for me, not for dh. Meeting dh made me aware of just how little I had left for my marriage, but he wasn't why I left. My ex was why I left.

 

I would tell (and want to be told) because I think this is a really big step that may lead to someone leaving for good.  

 

Telling certainly doesn't abdicate responsibility for looking closely at your marriage, checking in frequently, etc.  All of that is crucially important day to day, I agree.  But if you do all that constant open communication only to lie about an affair?  Why is it good to be honest about the small stuff only?  Because it's painful, but less so?  I don't know...I'm still inclined toward telling.

 

Exactly. I see telling as part of the whole process of keeping the marriage open, honest and accountable.


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#67 of 68 Old 10-04-2012, 04:17 PM
 
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 But if you do all that constant open communication only to lie about an affair?  Why is it good to be honest about the small stuff only?  Because it's painful, but less so?  I don't know...I'm still inclined toward telling.

 

 

I can see how you could feel that way. We don't need to agree.

 

I personally believe that staying on top of that communication can prevent an affair, and I believe that it's more important to be in present in your marriage rather than in the past.

 

I don't know if it's totally possible to fix everything in the marriage without coming clean about past transgressions.

 

The thing is -- I know a couple of couples that survived affairs where the spouse knows. I know how much hurt and long term damage is done by knowing.  But I don't know any couples where the spouse has kept it secret -- how could I? If they kept it a secret, they wouldn't tell their closest friends. So I don't know if that is really possible.

 

If it is, though, it does seem more humane to me. Because the couples that I know that have survived affairs, even though they are doing well in their marriage, were never the same. The cheated on spouse was never really the same.


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#68 of 68 Old 10-05-2012, 07:31 AM
 
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If it is, though, it does seem more humane to me. Because the couples that I know that have survived affairs, even though they are doing well in their marriage, were never the same. The cheated on spouse was never really the same.

 

I completely agree with this observation.  The fallout is an absolute mess, and people involved (even the cheater) are forever altered.  As you said, though, I'm not sure it is avoidable, to really work on the marriage with that secret remaining - the real damage is inherent in the cheating, to me - not just the telling.  But I can see why you would say that.


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