Cheating Husband Triggers and Sexual Abuse Triggers

Hi, ladies. I know it’s been a while since I’ve last written. I was transitioning into living in my new apartment, and I’m glad to say that everything is going well.

Today, I wanted to talk about the connection between sexual abuse, triggers, and affairs. If the term is unfamiliar to you, a trigger is anything (big or small, but usually small) that reminds you of a tragic or traumatic event and causes a negative emotion. I first learned about triggers during my marriage because of a trigger that was happening during pregnancy. For reasons I didn’t understand, I would push my husband’s hand away with brute force whenever he would touch me in a certain way. I should stress that this only happened when I was pregnant. I didn’t want to reject my husband, but I kept doing it and I couldn’t figure out why.

Then, through self-reflection, I remembered something painful from my past that I had suppressed. During summer camp one year, a little boy kept reaching under the lunch table and trying to touch my private area. It was very annoying and upsetting for me and I didn’t know how to handle it. Eventually, I told someone and I was taken out of camp, all of my family found out and I was super embarrassed. Now that I remember, I can see how this event in my life would cause me to lock up when I am touched in certain ways that resemble the incident in my childhood. I explained this to my husband in hopes of helping me heal. But by the time I solved the mystery, I believe he was already with the other woman, and wasn’t really interested in listening to me tell him about my triggers. He felt rejected and hurt. In fact, he didn’t consider what had happened to me to be a big deal at all, and figured I should just “get over it.”

For any men who are reading this, please know that sexual abuse comes in many shapes and forms. Essentially, though, it is any form of nonconsensual sexual contact. It’s frightening and hurtful and is not something that you just “get over.”

Just like there are triggers that come from sexual abuse, there are also triggers that come from experiencing an affair. The fact that infidelity causes triggers proves how deeply emotional this experience is. (Read “Five emotional triggers” to learn more about triggers). Sometimes, these triggers don’t make sense to our husbands after they’ve cheated. For instance, a husband may tell his wife that he’s going to the grocery store, and gets confused when she responds by bursting into tears. To me, though, her response makes perfect sense. During the affair, her husband said he was going to the store when he was really going to see the other woman. Now when he says he’s going there, he brings up this memory for his wife.

So now that you know what a trigger is, how do you get over them? One of the best ways to overcome triggers is to try to eliminate things that could cause one. For instance, during the affair, I found bottles of Red Bull all over my house because she drank it. Because of this, I can’t stand Red Bull now; I want to stab Red Bull every time I see it. So you will not see me with Red Bull ever, and if my husband and I were living together, I would ask him not to buy it because it’s too much of a trigger for me.

One big trigger that can come from your husband cheating is his cell phone. This is a huge trigger for me because that is how I found out about the affair! Every time his phone rang or a made a noise when he received a text message after I found out, I felt uneasy and angry at the same time. My husband did get a different-looking phone which helped, but he couldn’t stop keeping his phone attached to his hip, and seeing it there was another trigger for me. In the end, the way he kept wearing it was one of the many things that led to me moving out.

The takeaway lesson here is that triggers are real. They stem from traumatic events, and your husband cheating on you is a traumatic event. My heart goes out to everyone experiencing triggers caused by a cheating husband, sexual abuse, or any other situation.

Take care and have a good weekend!

15 thoughts on “Cheating Husband Triggers and Sexual Abuse Triggers”

  1. Hello Jewels,

    Thank you for sharing about such a difficult subject. I had an experience strikingly similar when I was a child. A neighbor boy touched me inappropriately while we were hiding during a game of hide and seek and it left a mark on me to this day.

    As I’ve shared with you before I was raped when I was thirty and spent years in counseling and support groups in order to heal from that. One of my triggers surrounding that is having a man block my path or crowd me. I shared that with my husband while we were dating and at that time he expressed understanding. However, once we were married he would become angry with me if I pulled away or wouldn’t walk past him in the hallway at home. He felt insulted that I still reacted a clear indicator of his selfishness. He turned a traumatic situation for me into a feeling of rejection of himself. It’s clearly the all about him show with everything.

    My counselor has told me that it is normal for me to have. Flashbacks and triggers regarding the rape again. I hadn’t had many in over ten years. My triggers about the affair are very intense and seem to be brought on by so many things. His phone (same kind) his truck (had sex in it), certain words like baby, or your beautiful. He said those things to her. The text i I caught him with said “I’m sorry baby”. He was apologizing to her that he had to take me to the Doctor.

    Often times he is a trigger, I will look at him and flash on all them times he was home acting like everything was normal and he had a whole other life going at the same time. Sometimes he will get angry with me when I experience a trigger and say things like he has to walk on eggshells and can’t even be himself anymore. Those attitudes make me feel so angry about his arrogance.

    As I’ve mentioned before, her cupcake shop is a quarter mile away from my house in our neighborhood shopping center. It is a unique center that is very community based and has a lot of activities like musical acts etc. That we used to go to. I also used the dry cleaners right next door to her store, star bucks and blockbuster as well as the grocery store where they had sex in his truck in them parking lot. I either change my entire routine or see her and/or her store. I am so angry about that!! I loved to go to the used bookstore and meet a friend and visit with our coffee or have lunch. I go back and forth as to which is healthier, let her continue to effect my life by changing my life or suffer them triggers and still go there.

    I have such a hard time hearing him say that he never thought about what it would be like for me after the affair to have her so close. I feel that is further evidence that he really was going to leave me so it didn’t matter and for whatever reason he changed his mind. I saw her yesterday when I was returning movies and felt sick visualizing my husband all over her.

    Is it wrong for me to feel further hurt and insulted that she is ugly? I was devastated when I found out she was twelve years younger than me until I saw her. I might be older than her but if I say so myself I am much more attractive.

    When will the obsessiveness and triggers subside? I am still in the same place I was a year ago. My counselor says it’s due to all the issues of the affair compounded by my Mothers death. I just don’t want to feel this way everyday and can’t seem to move ahead.

    I hope your well and adapting to your new life.

    1. Thanks Susan,
      I had the same reaction of that he felt rejected and highly offended that I would even come close to reminding him of a violation of my body. He took it way too personal, all I really wanted was for him to hug me and say it will be ok, instead he felt offended and just wanted it to go away. He was so caught up in his own emotion that he didn’t see mine.

      As far as the other woman being ugly, that is good. If she was half way decent, you would have a couple more emotions on top of the ones you have now like, ‘am I pretty’, did I ‘lose my touch’, etc, etc. I think in the majority of cases (not all), when people look at the other woman, it’s never level of caliber as the wife, in all areas. I don’t think my ‘other woman’ was attractive either, she is younger and immature.

      The only thing that helped my triggers is to not be around them (That sucks that you actually see her). I also would say affirmations when I would encounter one. I would say something like ‘I will not let my current emotion overtake my spirit.’ After saying that several times it seems to help me not get into stage where I am crying because of the memories.

  2. Hi Jewels,
    I really really like the affirmations idea especially saying I will not let this overtake my spirit. I have been trying very hard to focus on me the last two days. It’s been inconsistent but I know learning anything new is a journey of ups and downs.

    The woman that cuts my hair said that all married men seem to “cheat down” I think that’s so true! My husbands other woman was 12 years younger than me but not attractive at all. She is very harsh looking and not known as a nice person. I just don’t get it at all.

    I know that you will have someone in your life that will love and honor you and be emotionally mature enough to respect you. You have a right to be treated well and be supported. If a man can’t be sensitive to the fact that you were harmed sexually at a very young age and respond accordingly out of love and respect he is not worthy of you.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  3. Sorry Jewels but I cannot stop reading and commenting on your webpage! I find it so helpful!

    I have also experienced sexual abuse as a child and as a young lady. I have been able to move on without having triggers or flashbacks of those terrible times lately. But now after the trauma I have been thinking more on those days. I didn’t know why I was but now after reading this I can totally see why.
    Regarding the way men “cheat down” that Susan referred to is also true in my situation. I haven’t seen my husband’s girl yet but I do know a few things that he’s told me about her and she doesn’t sound that great ei.over weight. I think she was a huge step down in the department of what we (me and my husband) like I’m sure she over weight because he told me that if she’s not working or sleeping that she ALWAYS was drinking beer (that’s probably where her beer gut comes from) and she hates the music he listens to and he hated hers. With him being a musician most of his life I can’t understand how he even began talking to her. He can hardly stand guys if they don’t like his music! Then she’s a boot wearing, camo wearing duck hunter! He has NEVER been a sporty type! He like for a girl to look girly! He’s had me dress up as a pin-up girl several times because that is the look he loves. So anyways I guess even if you ask the guys they can’t even explain why… I think that they (the girls) just so happened to be there and knew just what to say and do when the men were at their most vulnerable and gullible at that time. I think they just went for the first THING showed them interest.
    I personally find it a positive thing that she is nothing great or special because I know how great and wonderful I am and that makes her more pitiful than she already is. Because I (and He) knows how often ALL of his guy friends tell him how lucky he is to have a woman like me (and they told him all the time). Because I know and He knows that if I wanted to, I could start a relationship with a guy that I work with that is interested in me and is super fine! This guy also happens to be one of the nicest men I have ever met in my whole life… And he knows that too! Like I said I’m not going to go down that road but it is comforting to know that if I decided to move on that I could with someone that would be worth my time and possibly a large step up! I actually decided to share that tidbit of info with my husband right before I came back down from my trip up there to visit him. I know I was probably trying to hurt him but I do want him to have a fear of losing me. And loosing me to a sweet, fun, muscular hunk has got to be scary for him!

    1. lol…you are funny Mrs. Bigs with your sweet, fun muscular hunk!! It is a good feeling to know that someone else out there in the world thinks you’re great. At the same time, never heard a story of someone that cheated on their husband after the affair and felt good about it. Typically it feels good for about 24 hours, and then they feeling absolutely horrible, probably not worth it in your situation! The ‘cheating down’ thing is very interested, it actually made me feel better as well once I saw this woman had nothing on me, I knew at that point it was probably only about 1 thing. A beer drinking duck hunter..huh? Nice. Take Care – don’t mind the comments at all!!

  4. Jewels,

    I really liked you’re comments about trigger objects and cell phones. While my husband was cheating on me he had his cell phone on him at ALL times, which was weird because before then I was always bringing him his phone if he had a text or call. Well come to find out he was texting the mistress. My husband and I are currently trying to work things out but he is starting that action again of keeping his cell phone in his pocket all the time. On top of that he still goes over to her place to “just talk”. How am I supposed to believe him when he doesn’t answer his phone when I call? I want our marriage to work but he doesn’t seem to care that I have a problem with him hanging out with the OW.

    1. Hello Shonda,

      I am really sorry to hear about your situation. My husband was really open with his phone prior to the affair as well. I just didn’t notice the transition from always seeing it to not seeing it at all because it was in his pocket at all times. Shonda, I will be honest with you, the fact that he still goes over to see her just to ‘talk’ without answering his cell phone is really troubling me. No need to do anything major right now, but if I were you, I would tell him to cut all ties with the OW, including the friendship. If he doesn’t, be cool about it, and start mentally preparing for your departure. Just mentally, everyone has a different situation. I starting ‘mentally’ preparing my departure 12 months before I actually left because of my situation. Him still seeing her as ‘friends’ is just not cool. I hope the best for you, please keep me updated and feel free to send me an email or post anytime. Best of luck with everything!!

  5. Triggers triggers triggers. Oh my god, they feel like being stabbed in the back all over again. I lose my mind and all my cool and all my hard work at finding inner peace and recreating my inner safe space. Downtown, commercials playing off safe sex, people chatting about ‘gentlmen’s clubs’ (what a sick name joke), on and on and on, even innocent seeming turns of phrase are thick with triggers after his willingness to look me in the eye to tell so earnestly his lies, and to set me up to believe his deceit, and to keep his options open so that he could also go to his cheap sex whenever he wanted.

    As to never having met someone who cheated after discovering an affair and felt good about it, you just have. I made no secret of the fact that if someone was going to cheat on me then I was going to have sex of my own. He was fully aware of that when I discovered. After the porn and strippers and prostitutes he gorged on, sex with other men felt downright clean. It certainly made it clear to me that, just because he decided he wanted his cake and eat it to and that I was worth losing for the price of admission to some strip club, I was still desirable and sexy and hot! It saved my sanity, and I have NO regrets about my ‘dates’ whatsoever.

    But the triggers every day are like torture.

    1. Yes, triggers can be painful. I guess the important thing now is he has done his thing, you did yours, what’s next? It can’t be a lifetime of painful triggers. Hopefully he is very sorry for what he did and willing to stop his behavior and work on the relationship, that’s if you want to. Best of luck to you!

  6. Again, stop being so emotionally involved with these men. it makes me sick to hear how they treated you.
    Men are natural sexual predators, they feed their need for sex. And they feed their needs selfishly if you need emotional bonding they feed off of it as a child needing a daddy. They see it as a way to get what they want by giving you what you want so to them that is a pact. So they marry you give you the fancy wedding and many kids and then they pull an arnold schwarzanegger on you.

  7. Geezus! i comment and ask a question on one blog, and find the answer on another… so thats what i have, “TRIGGERS” and i have alot of them coming from the affair, but i never thought i would learn anything from this website about sexual abuse. I was sexually abused by my sisters dad from 1st grade till 6th grade i went to the first visit of counseling and never went back i didnt think i needed it. i did experiance triggers like you explained when my husband would touch me certain ways, it made me very uncomfortable. but i never knew that after i found out he cheated on me it would bring up so many issues i never dealt with, my problem is now, are all men this way? (dogs) they only want one thing and they will do anything to get it.. i love my husband I have been with him for 12yrs, we have kids together but i feel like my childhood pain, and issues that i never dealt with are making it that much harder to get over the affair my husband had. Oh and some of my triggers are hard to stay away from its not like the red bull I mean i cant stand the Los Angeles sky line :/ the only thing that stops me from smacking him if we are driving past it, is i dont want to get in an accident

    1. Hi Lori,
      It’s interesting how cheating can ‘trigger’ memories of negative sexual experiences. Once those emotions ‘come out of the closet’, it can be difficult to put back. I know you mentioned going to therapy once and stopping because you didn’t think you needed it. You might want to consider going again, just to talk through all of this. What you are going through is very traumatic, very complicated, and isn’t easy to resolve. Regardless if you stay in the marriage or leave, you are going to have some emotional barriers to work through, and trying to overcome them alone is tough. Especially since you and your husband are still together, I think going on your own to a few therapy sessions will not only help you, but help the marriage.

      Are all men like this? I don’t think so and here is why. Although my site is focused around women. Men download my ebook. Men contact me totally devastated and have told me they have never been in this much pain in their life. So I think there are men who have been as faithful as we have, the hard part is just finding them…lol!!

  8. Jewels,
    thanks for responding so quickly. And I actually have been thinking about going to counseling because I felt, I had no one to talk with about it. I just always find an excuse I guess you can say I still put myself last, NOT WITH HIM ANYMORE but i have 4 children that i feel i owe the world to because unfortunately they were affected by the affair to. As for it being harder because im still with my husband i think your right, after i had found out 2 months later i left him and i felt better because i didnt have to face him everyday so i wasnt reminded about the affair. But after 6 months we decided to try and make it work and he moved back in, but then it took me back to square one and im having to deal with what i ignored, all that time…

    1. Hello Lori, that’s understandable that you have kids and you want them to be ok, it’s hard for me to deal with my kids around the separation, they are so innocent.

      Just realize that your kids need you to be ok, and that is very important. We all go through things in life, and as much as we want to shelter them from the realities in life, it’s just not possible. Life happens. But what is important is how your kids see you react to the situation. Once you go to counseling (hint hint…lol), I feel it is perfectly ok to tell your kids that mommy is going to have some time to herself for an hour. I think that is huge and teaches them without telling them that mommy makes sure she takes care of herself. And when they grow up and encounter life, they will subconsciously do the same (well, at least I hope so).

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