The message in this post was submitted to the ‘My Story’ section of the site. I decided to post it here instead together with my response. The woman who wrote it was not directly involved in an affair, but she has seen the impact of cheating on someone close to her.
“Here is the hard truth….He has cheated on you, and you have just discovered your husband has had a long term relationship with someone else. You have children, you are devastated, and your primary response is to keep him. Ladies, think long and hard before you decide to give this man another chance. You will never know the real truth about this man, only what he has told you, and you have convinced yourself to believe the fabricated story you have created in your head about their relationship. This is not real. The truth is in most long-term affairs, very deep feelings develop for the two people involved…and sometimes love. If he has convinced you he wants to work it out, that is only because of financial ties, children, and family pressure—not because he loves you. He will always think of the other woman and hope they will have a chance to be together again in the future. You both had a fair chance to be together, you were able to date freely, go on vacations, spend time together openly, unlike the other woman he fell in love with, and the bottom line is that he strayed from you for a reason he will only know. Does he love you? Did he ever love you? Has he fallen out of love with you? He will never regret what he did, although he will tell you that he does. The truth of the matter is, the days he spent with this other woman were probably the best days of his life, so much so that he risked everything to be with her. He will always think of her and secretly desire her. He will never respect you the same way, because he fooled you, once again, into staying married. It will only be a matter of time until he will do it again. Unlike what society likes to believe, (she’s a sleaze (sic), he is scum etc.) usually long-term affairs genuinely happen to good people who have become vulnerable, who have stayed in their marriages for the “children’s sake” and simply feel trapped, or are very unhappy and have fallen out-of-love with their partners. You need to ask yourself, do I want to spend the rest of my life with a man that stayed married to me for all the wrong reasons? Give yourself time before you decide you want to give this man another chance. If you at least allow yourself some time before holding on to him as if he were the only man left on earth, he and everyone else will at least respect you…you will develop some self-respect, and self-worth. Does he really deserve a second chance? If only you were able to see him in action with this other woman, and more importantly, be able to witness the emotional involvement he had with someone else, I can guarantee you that any woman, sane in mind, would NEVER give him a second chance.”
“Baytta, it’s hard to explain the situation unless you have been cheated on by a husband, that’s the plain, simple truth. Trust me; no one who has been through this will debate me on this point: our primary response is not to stay—far from it. We don’t stay because we believe his story; we stay because we said “for better or worse.” We stay because if we leave, we can’t afford to raise our kids alone without moving to a bad neighborhood. We stay because if we leave, we will go into foreclosure or bankruptcy. We stay because when you’re married, you are in a legal contractual agreement with another person. Your life savings, your money, your house, everything is tied up in this person, so you can’t just walk away.
You still have family obligations to meet, whether you stay or leave. Many women stay because their kids would be so traumatized by jumping up and leaving. And many stay because love is not like the movies; it takes work, and so does a marriage, and they feel that they should fight for their marriage, so at least then they would leave knowing they gave it a good shot. And last but not least, some women stay in order to prepare to leave mentally, emotionally, and financially, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Now, you ask did he ever love you, and say that the days with the other women are the best days of his life. What you have to realize is that those times were so good because they were fake and artificial. In real relationships, you bring your full self to the table, A-Z. Our husbands accepted us A-Z, so much so that they were willing to marry us. The relationship one has in an affair isn’t a full one. The people engaging in affairs are just giving themselves A-D (A: flirting, B: sex, C: fantasy/lies, D: companionship). It’s not a full person engaging on either side—it’s a fantasy. And we all like fantasies, until real life comes along.
I disagree with what you’ve said about the best time of his life being the relationship he had with the other woman., If that were the case, why is the percentage of married men who go marry the woman they cheated with so low? Because they know the relationship is fake; they’re not engaging with these women fully, and if they knew them fully, they wouldn’t have half the chance of getting the ring.
I also disagree with what you said about long-term affairs happening to good people who feel trapped. Affairs happen to people who get lazy in the relationship, are too selfish and ultimately too scared to be honest, so they take the easy way out and cheat. Yes, it’s so easy to cheat, and much harder to stay and work on your marriage. You wrote it in a way that seems like people that cheat are good people who are trapped. Let me tell you, if I have kids and am in a marriage that I hate, I can think of 100 things to do other than cheat, and if all those 100 things don’t work, I would get a divorce. There is no such thing as “being trapped”—that’s just what people say to justify cheating. They cheat instead of getting a divorce because they are selfish and want the family, the house, the kids, and the woman on the side.
I do think that your points about thinking really hard before you give him another chance are valid. That’s something we should all think about. However, your last comment about any how any sane woman should not give her husband another chance is just not true. It’s false statistically, and it’s false emotionally. Giving your husband a second chance is very likely, and it actually happens all the time. I know this, but you probably don’t. There is probably a woman in your family who stayed with her husband after he cheated and who never told anyone because she didn’t want to deal with people who have the same perspective as you.
I do thank you for sharing your perspective. I do think that many women who have not been cheated on by their husbands have the same exact attitude and perspective as you. Ultimately, this is just like when people who don’t have kids say negative things about how you raise your kids, until they have their own and realize that raising kids is not as easy as it looks. It’s the same thing when it comes to cheating husbands. There’s so much more to it that people who haven’t gone through it can see.