Coping with Infidelity – Embarrassment

Recovering from infidelity is one of the most difficult challenges any marriage will face. Ironically, even though I didn’t cheat, I felt an incredible amount of embarrassment about the situation. I felt like a failure. I was ashamed. I was not coping well. Most of all, I didn’t want anybody to know. Through my own recovery journey, I have learned to deal with emotions like this, but doing so took a long time. For example, it took months of reflection and asking “Why am I still ashamed to tell people when I know for a fact that it’s over?”

Some of you might relate to this: I actually had an easier time telling strangers than family, friends, and co-workers. Strangers or distant acquaintances worked for me because they didn’t know me, so I didn’t feel like they were going to judge me. And you know what? Those acquaintances helped me with the embarrassment. In one case, I remember going to Denny’s right after learning about the affair, looking shocked and depressed. I told the waiter what had happened, and he was so sympathetic and made me not feel so alone (He got a good tip!).

I didn’t tell any family at first because I thought things might work out between us, and I didn’t want family in our business. But when he kept on cheating, I said that’s it and told his immediate family and mine. I did that for two reasons. First, I felt that telling family would help me accept that our marriage was finally over. Second, I was starving for someone to talk to about it.

My husband didn’t want me to share the fact that he cheated with anyone (very common). I think he was embarrassed by his behavior and what other people’s reactions would be when they found out. And I catered to his wishes for a long time. Now, I wish I hadn’t done that.

Strangely enough, telling my extended family was tougher than telling immediate family, because they thought highly of me and my accomplishments, and in a way I felt that having my marriage end I was letting them down. In fact, telling my Dad was really hard. See Telling parents about the affair for that story. As for my friends, I told each one in my own time and in my own way, and they’ve been very supportive. Over all, though, the hardest thing was telling co-workers. I had built a good reputation at my job, and I didn’t want it to all go down the drain because I was now “the woman with the cheating husband.”

If you are feeling embarrassed by the adultery within your marriage, you are not alone. There are several emotions and ideas that you really have to work through as you learn to cope with infidelity, and embarrassment is one of those emotions. Coping with the embarrassment of the affair was a big part of my recovery journey.

To help you, let me tell you what happened once I started being more vocal about the affair.

1. I realized that there is a huge part of the population that has dealt with affairs (both cheating on their partners and being cheated on). Each time I opened up, I heard another story, and each time I heard another story, I thought, “Oh, I am not so alone.”

2. After I told people, I didn’t feel so much shame anymore. When it comes down to it, people are too obsessed with their own lives to obsess over yours. While they might tell other people about your husband’s affair, the subject does not become this big event like you imagined it would be. When I told my co-workers—the people I dreaded telling the most—they just responded with “Sorry to hear that.” and only mentioned it casually to other people.

3. The support you get is amazing. I promise you that you have family members and friends who have dealt with affairs. In fact, you may be surprised to find out just how many people you know who have. When you talk about your experience, you allow them to open up and share their story, which is a wonderful thing.

4. People are willing to help you, but if they don’t know what you’re going through, they can’t help. The more I started opening up, the more people started coming into my life to help me through how I was feeling.

5. Lastly, I realized that he cheated, not me, and that I had nothing to be ashamed of. It took me a long time to arrive at this conclusion, but I have.

Of course, you have to make your own decision about how you want to deal with opening up about the affair; what I’m describing comes from what I learned during my personal two-year journey. You might be dealing with different attitudes and different situations based on your culture, religion, age, or other factors. But just know that you are not alone, and the embarrassment you imagine is not as bad as reality.

21 thoughts on “Coping with Infidelity – Embarrassment”

  1. Great post, Jewels! I too have wondered why *I* am the one that feels so embarrassed. I guess it’s because when I left 4 years ago, not because of cheating but simply due to many years of underlying marital issues, he begged me to come back. Begged to go to counseling and work on things, couldn’t understand why I felt the need to ‘find myself’ after many years of pouring myself into the kids and their activities, work, household duties, etc….Just imagine my own shock when I found out he was all-out cheating on me in just under 3 short years after I returned home. (I was gone and rented a townhome for about 7-8 months, with us going to counseling and “dating” the whole time. He would hardly give me a minute’s peace then…wanting to be with me all the time, missing me, etc.).
    So now, it is so unbelievable to tell family & friends that yes, he was caught having a 4-1/2 month affair with a girl half my age!! The few that I have told are absolutely stunned!…and actually say something like “Oh my gosh, after he couldn’t make it without you!” Even last week as I told my mother and her good friend that I was living in the RV (finally! after 7 months of little remorse and/or rebuilding effort on his part); my mom asked ‘Why?’…and all I could say was “Let’s just say mid-life crisis and bad decisions on top of years of BS”. I still can hardly bring myself to tell people!

    1. Hey Sandy, I know, telling people is a huge part of recovery. I think part of it is the realization and disappointment that he just can not get it together. Most men beg us to stay, and it takes alot of strength to take your husband back after cheating, only to find out he did it again. I am glad your family and friends are realizing how crazy it is to beg for someone back and cheat again. I know your living in an RV, but I hope mentally you are in a better place.

  2. Yes great post Jewels. I have told my family, his family and my closet friends. Our adult sons know about his cheating too, actually their Dad told them. My husband is ashamed, embarrassed, remorseful but not very talkative. When we separated I fell apart, now he has been back for a month and I find myself hardly wanting to talk to him. He is the one who asked to come home but yet he continued on with his affair until 2 weeks ago. He finally ended it and then I finally found his secret phone and had her cell phone number. It was unlisted so I paid to have it traced, voila had all her information including her husbands. So now she just told her husband and sent my husband a text stating that her Dentist husband wants a confrontation. She also let my husband know that she wanted a man with a backbone, one who could commit and he was not it. It is looking like she wanted a hero to rescue her from her bad marriage, a man who would right away move in with her and marry her. Well that is when my husband in his words “started freaking out”. The good is that my husband is now going to get the therapy he desperately needs, nothing seems to make him happy the past 2 years. As for our marriage?? I am the one having doubts now, how can I continue hanging on? My husband shows hardly any physical emotions towards me, although yesterday he told me he had a complete blood work up to find out why he is so tired, can’t sleep and has no libido. I should listen to that and not assume it is me.

    So do I feel shame? No not any more. Do I want to tell all their gym buddies, absolutely! Will I? No. But I am re-joining this gym. It has only been 3 months since my husband admitted to this affair which had been going on for a year.

    I guess I am the confused one now, my husband has stopped saying that. Do I tell him? Do I tell him I am very lonely in our marriage and what I need? I know something is going on with my husband as he is very distracted, exhausted and overly worried about aging. He is quite possibly in a mid life crisis too, so hopefully this hormone Dr. can help him. But what should I do about me? We have been married 24 years, youngest is leaving for College next week and my married life has been about raising babies, having a husband who traveled for work and taking care of all of us. I do not have a career, my family has been my career.

    1. Hello Jules,

      The secret phone technique – my husband did that as well, after I first found out – I thought I was the only one! I was thinking who in the world finds out their wife is cheating, says they want to work it out, and buys a secret phone? I guess more than I thought.

      As far as your husband, yes he probably is going through something. My personal theory is many men cheat once their kids are old to see if they still ‘got it’. The fact he is going to therapy is promising.

      As far as you, two things. My kids are young, but I hear once the kid goes off to college, that is a big transition, especially for you because raising kids has been your life (and your youngest will be going to college) and raising a family was your life (and now your family has grown up, and you have a cheating husband). I think you should go to therapy as well, alone. What you have experienced is traumatic and you need to sift through your emotions as well during this time of transition for your life. The good news is that since your family has been your career, you have an opportunity to start a new one, maybe embark on something that you always wanted to do but never had the time to do until now. Executing on that can take your life into an wonderful direction. I wish you well!!

  3. I also feel embarrassed and ashamed that I am married to a husband who has cheated (multiple times that I found out about in one hit). I told my family and recently told his family and his father berated me and tried to find fault with my own brothers as a way of dealing with what I told him about his son, he also said that I couldnt be 100% sure that my parents didnt cheat. He knows nothing of my parents relationship (which doesnt include cheating) and yet for him to make that accusation makes me believe now that he was also a cheater. He also said that I am not the the only woman to be hurt. Does this imply that his wife was also hurt by his cheating? I know that she cheated on him because my husband told me. So I believe that my husband was raised by cheating parents, due to their behaviour when I told them and it hurts me very much for me to think that they all knew my husband would cheat eventually but no-one bothered to tell me that there was a history of infidelity in his family.

    I now have to face the in-laws at a party and I feel that I am a woman deserving of less respect than my SIL’s whose husbands havent cheated on them. I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I have a cheating husband and wonder why my SILaws deserve more respect from their husbands than I do. I did nothing wrong, I didnt cheat lie or deceive, yet I feel as though they will all look at me differently now. Husband has no problem with going to the party and acting like there is nothing wrong. He can still hold his head up high in the presence of his family and my family, which I find confusing. Why am I the one who feels ashamed in front of both families and he doesnt?

    How can he put himself in the presence of my family with my parents knowing the absolute devestation he has caused me? Why do my parents act civil to him and say nothing? It just seems to me that infidelity is so accepted by his family and mine (no cheating ever occurred in my family) yet I am the one who thinks about it all the time and is still incredibly hurt by it everyday of my life.

    I thought by telling his family I would get some sort of empathy or they would say something to his son about it. All I got was berated by his father and nothing from his mother. I guess they lived through it in their marriage and now they see it as my turn to live through it because to them it is normal. I am the one with the shame and embarrassement, not my husband. He should be fully ashamed of what he did and even if I leave him, I will be seen as the one who broke up the marriage and hurt their grandchildren by divorce, not him because of his 5 years of deceit, cheating and lies.

    1. Hello Lousie,
      When I told his family, I was expecting alot more remorse as well. His mom made it seem like some vicious women can into the marriage, and I knew that her son was not the victim, he knew what he was doing. Here lies the problem – we both did the same thing. We were holding on to something that was never ours, which was how people perceive a situation. You can expect people to react a certain way to finding out about an affair, because you will be disappointed every time. People have their own lives and it’s not their job to fight this one, because they are bringing all of their own personal baggage with them (like your father in law).

      As far as your siblings, there might be infidelity, it just might not be known. I know you feel like the only one, but remember, he cheated, not you. You did nothing wrong. Keep telling yourself that everyday. Look at it like this, if he can cheat, and want into a party laughing acting like nothing happened, so can you. You can hold your head up high knowing that you remained a faithful wife. Trust me, he will have his moment where he will understand the full impact of his actions, he is not there yet and that is ok. He will understand because there will come a moment in time where he will realize this marriage is not the same, and he will look in the mirror and say what have I done? Again, he is not there and don’t wish or hope for it, it will come in time.

      Lastly, I know some might see you leaving the marriage as the one who broke up the marriage, my husband blames me for that very same thing. It’s just a mind trick, a play on words to make you feel like the bad one, it is an illusion. He cheated – there are always consequences to your actions, especially after 5 years. You don’t have to make a decision at this time, as you are still sifting through your emotions. Just know Louise the way others feel is just that, the way you feel is of upmost value, and you should go through great lengths to make sure that you strive to feel proud and happy again weather you stay or leave. You will get through this, and be able to lift your head up high again. Take Care.

  4. Thank you so much for the post! Having a site like this makes me feel better….not so isolated.

    One of my close friends told me to “be careful not to act like a woman scorned.” Can you imagine? I’m supposed to monitor MY behavior so as not to embarass myself! It is amazing how someone else’s actions boomerang back; somehow along the way, society decided that if a husband cheats, the wife must be doing something to make it happen. What a heavy burden. What a no-win situation.

    Luckily, I have the support of friends who remind me on a daiy basis that I am in no way responsible for my soon-to-be-ex-husband’s actions.

    1. Thanks Stephanie! You are so right, I am not sure what year it was decided that we carry this burden or must of done something wrong. But I think it comes from years of cheaters blaming us or making up lame excuses for why they cheat, and people actually believing them. Your close friend probably has some issues or past drama that she has to deal with concerning her own life for her to say that. I am glad you have a positive support system, it’s so important, take care!

  5. This is my story I married a man with a young daughter, that I took care of for eight years always treated her like my own. Her natural mother was using drugs. Now eight years later he sleep with this woman that put him through hell. Me being the fool ask him what can we do to get through this, he replies he wants a divorce becasue it brung all this feelings for her back to light. Well, I am leaving and I hope I don’t ever look back. I really hope they can be one big happy family. This is the short side of the story.

  6. My husband and I will have been married 32 years .He is 18 years older than I. Ours was a love that people were envious of. We have no children. Over the thirty odd years we became complacent in our marriage. Sex had become a thing of the past. He had gotten older and I had entered menopause. Life was good (or so i thought)We enjoyed being with each other, had lots in common, had worked together side by side for many, many years. We each would light up when the other walked into the room……….
    Until about three weeks ago…….when I forced him to tell me he was having a affair………with my youngest brothers wife.
    I am totally devastated! Feels like the end of my life.
    He says he is so sorry, that I don’t deserve this! He is remorseful but yet has not ended the affair. Telling me that he needs to clear his head and give him some time.
    He also says he will understand if I don’t.
    This evening he left to go see her (in another state) and I am left here alone and waiting……..
    I love him with all my heart and he says he loves me. I have not told anyone, in hopes that it will all go away and life will go back to what it was…….my family is very close to him. I am trying to spare them the pain in hopes of reconciliation.
    My emotions are all over the place…….one minute hopeful the next not so much…..
    I feel like I share the blame for this……lack of communication between us……but I also know that my sister in law is very manipulative and sees him as her ticket out of her unhappy marriage and financially …….she is 13 years younger than me……
    Should I give him more time at the expense of my sanity..??

  7. My husband cheated on me early on in our marriage of 5 years. One of the affairs resulted in a child. I am still embarrassed by it, especially since he now has a kid with one of the women. My embarrassment stems from my own expectations about the life I want, and also what others expected of me. I never thought I’d end up with a man who’d cheat. I’m embarrassed because I thought I knew him. I’m embarrassed because I feel like he “played me” for a fool from the start. Sex is no longer great because I think about these women and I wonder if he’s thinking about them too. He fantasizes about a threesome and once he mentioned involving one of the women he cheated with. I hate sex because of him. It is no longer a beautiful and fun thing. If I don’t deliver, he make comments that he’d have to go out and find it. I’m not comfortable in this thing bc I worry about it happening again. Will he fool me again? That’s what I think about.

  8. Kim from the USA … Any husband that says things like that to you is not being respectful at all. The questions you should ask yourself is not if he will fool you again, you can’t control his behavior..ever… But you should ask yourself if he is worthy of you? Does he treat you the way you deserve to be treated… Respectful, caring, honest, and open? You deserve the very best… You deserve to be loved by a man that respects you not threatens you with cheating. We only get one shot at this life…. Read what Jewels wrote about a new year ..recover your power! You my friend are so strong, you have put up with and accepted a lot from your husbands behavior and poor choices. Make 2013 about Kim! Trust me, when you find that inner strength again, you won’t need to ask yourself such questions anymore, you will just know. Stay strong and focused on you!

  9. One thing to always remember – it is not the wife’s fault that her husband cheats. When there are problems in a marriage, both partners need to take ownership. However, the cheater is 100% responsible for being unfaithful. A person has a lot of choices in deciding how to handle problems in a relationship. The way they choose to handle those problems is based on their own character and not the fault of the other partner. A man who CHOOSES is cheat is responsible for that choice, it is not the fault of the partner or spouse. He had other options for dealing with his problems – counselling, separation, simply talking it out with the partner etc. It is his own defective character that made him make the choice to cheat.

  10. It’s such a deep rooted addiction(sex addiction) that an addict really really has to want to get help, or yes, he will continue on this very destructive road…. If there’s internet porn, which i know for a fact he watches, and sexting, which they delete quickly so you’ll never find it, then, that’s an addiction….most men are NOT willing to give it up, since they don’t see it as an addiciton…just as a “guy thing”…but it’s so deep rooted and so destructive…….You need to ask yourself, if you deserve better than this…If you’re not enjoying sex anymore, which would normal under the circumstances, that’s a huge red flag and you need to get out….and he’s still fantasizing about past gf’s and threesomes??? are you kidding??? We as women deserve better! I know that when I found all the sexting, internet porn, phone calls, etc….i forgave the first time because he said he was sorry…boo hoo….but my GUT told me, he wasn’t going to change and guess what??? He DIDN’T!!! they DON’T…..you need to move on…there’s someone better out there for you who’ll treat you right, but you have to BELIEVE that first.

    1. Hi Ladies….

      Kim the other ladies comments are all on point. The comment he made about if you don’t deliver he is going to go looking? Not cool at all, what women could perform sexually given those circumstances. I felt the same way about sex after the affair, I was too shaken up to relax. I know you had expectations about the life you wanted, just realize you can still have that life, even if it is not with him…take care!

  11. I just found this site. Last Saturday my husband and I were planning a night on the town. I just happened to look at his phone and see a message from someone talking about him being her soulmate and that she loves him ect. He had written back virtually the same thing. I feel like I have been punched in the gut and can’t recover. He is begging me to stay and says those were only words that meant nothing. He admitted to having a 2 year affair. we have a very close family,one daughter,my parents are older and love him, I’m carrying this and feel like I’m going to vomit any second. We’ve been married 32 years. We had become a bit boring, he would come home and drink a lot every night so sex was basically none. I’m stuck, I’m successful at my job and can put on a happy face but I’m blubbering and heartbroken inside. I’m so so sad.

  12. Hi Denise, what you describe is being in the devastation stage, it’s not pretty – at all, but most women go through it when they find out, it’s literally shock. It’s been a couple of weeks now so I am curious as to how things are going for you.

  13. I found out 2 months ago that my husband of only 5 months and partner of 8 years was cheating on me with escorts for at least last 4 years. I read very descriptive emails and even talked to an escort on the phone that confirmed who my husband was and when she slept with him last and that she had met him on several occasions before. My heart broke. I wasn’t angry with her because she was providing a service -my husband went to her she didn’t go to him. My now ex completely denies ever meeting escorts. He even claims that the multiple emails I read were written by a hacker! It makes me sick thinking about how many times he cheated on me. I told a few colleagues but then they told others. I am so embarrassed. Too many people know about my failed marriage. I know it’s not my fault because I was a great partner. But I do feel like a failure and I wish so many people didn’t know. I asked him to leave when I found out. I don’t think he will ever admit to it. His mother said it’s not true unless he says it happened. she said that i was the one that was fixated on escorts and wrong for reading his texts and emails and besides sex isn’t the same as love. I guess a parent will always support their child. I will always be hurt by what he did.

    1. Yes a parent will always support a child because my ex’s mom did the same thing with defending my ex-husband. I understand the overwhelming feelings of shame, as I was embarrassed as well. It’s almost as if I felt responsible for his actions as a wife. But I now realize we are each accountable for our own actions. If my ex-husband decides to do something embarrassing, that is on him, not me. Lying to a loving wife for 4 years, he should be the one embarrassed, but I bet he is not, because from a psychological perspective, he is in total denial. I can see him saying a spooky ‘hacker’ when into his account and wrote those emails when it first happened, but 2 months later with the same story? The only thing I will tell you is do not deny what is in your heart, you know what happened and sometimes other people can get you to question yourself, don’t. You are not a failure, you just found out you were with the wrong person, now it’s time to look within yourself grow so that you can be ready for the real man of your dreams. He is on his way, you just have to have the confidence to believe it. I wish you the best.

  14. Ok ladies what do I do so after 6 years of marriage and one kid who’s 4 and another one on the was the same weekend I found out he asked for a separation then a divorce and he didn’t want to work on it at all so I thought moving away to be around family would help we can’t get divorce till the baby is born and now I find out his is cheating and lieingury and I don’t know how long it’s gone on he knows he has been caught just say she was someone who listeNed but now there seeing each other and I’m not there to see it but we’re still legal married and I have proof of it and it hurts more and that he lies and now I know why and had the nerve to tell me if I stayed that things may have been different because he would have been focused on our kid and the new baby really making me feel like crap because I left but I just was to emotional to let this happen and not know why he never gave me a good excuse on why he didn’t want to be married what do I do be cause I want revenge but I’m sure it won’t help I want everyone to know who he really is and this girl who is ok with being with this type of guy I’m sure he hasn’t told her the truth but what do I do

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