I recently received a very heart felt email from a wife who was struggling to regain her life and her marriage after her husband's affair. She had learned of her husband's affair about six months ago and he promised that he would end it and would work with her to save the marriage. They had been struggling along and she felt that they were making some progress but she had recently found some evidence that made her pretty sure that he was continuing to cheat with the same woman and she was heartbroken over this.
Despite her shock and pain, she still wanted to save her marriage. She didn't want to take her children's father away from them. But she had no idea how to get him away from this woman once and for all and how to even begin to be receptive to him again when she was so angry and hurt. I will go over some of the issues she and I worked through in the following article.
Finding Out That Your Husband Is Still Cheating When You Thought He Was Working On The Marriage: Let's be clear. Learning about an affair the first time around is so devastating. But, having to deal with it not once by twice (with the same person at that) is just about unbearable. And, outside of that, it's almost impossible to repair a marriage that is still based on dishonesty and infidelity. If the husband were really interested in saving the marriage long term (at least right now) he would not continue to have contact with this other person.
Now, in order to look at this from the other side of the fence, I must tell you that men in this situation will often recount how this other woman won't leave them alone and eventually wears them down. They will swear that they love and are committed to their wives.
But what they absolutely are not able to understand is that there is no way that they are having an honest and healthy relationship with either of these women so long as they exist at the same time. Yes, the other woman will sometimes not be willing to let go. However, it's your job to deny all contact until, eventually, she gives up. If you don't give her access to yourself, how can a relationship possibly exist? It can't. It exists because you are allowing it to.
Making It Very Clear That The Cheating Must Stop Immediately And For Good If You're Going To Consider Saving The Marriage: It was very clear that the wife was taking fixing this situation onto her shoulders. She was trying to figure out what she needed to do to lure him away from this woman. She didn't understand that this really was not her job. Not only that, but in order for the reconciliation to work, the husband needed to decide to get away from the other woman on his own. If he didn't, there was every chance that he was going to continue to carry the torch and to think that this woman was something desirable that he was being denied. Of course, that was going to make him want her just that much more.
The only authentic solution here was to very calmly but firmly confront him, to tell him that she knew he was still cheating, to tell him that this was completely unacceptable, and to demand that he put a complete end to this and offer reassurances until it was clear that this was lasting. In other words, since he had shown himself to be untrustworthy, he was going to have to work that much more hard to restore the trust. And, this responsibility lied with him. The wife was doing nothing wrong here. The husband had made the choice to continue to cheat and it was, unfortunately, going to have to be the husband's choice to end this relationship. Very clearly, the wife could not make the decision for him and have it really stick.
Spelling Out Exactly What Needs To Happen To Save The Marriage: Once the wife confronted the husband, one of two things were going to happen. He would either decide that he wasn't going to give up the mistress. Or, he was going to be full of apologies and beg forgiveness and offer all sorts of promises and compromises. I cautioned the wife that she could no longer just blindly trust what he was saying. If the husband were to claim he was turning over a new leaf, she needed to make it very clear that he was going to need to prove that to her. He was going to need to turn over his cell phone records and emails. He was going to need to stay home with her for a while. And, he was going to need to seek counseling or help with complete compliance.
If he was unwilling to do these things, then it would be pretty clear that proving his loyalty to his wife was not his highest priority and that he needed some leeway for potentially questionable behavior. Either way, laying her cards on the table was the first step in seeing exactly where his husband's true loyalties were. Because in order to save her marriage and to restore the relationship and the trust, there needed to be complete transparency and cooperation. This obviously wasn't happening if the husband was keeping one foot in the door of his old life and one half of his heart with the other woman.
I was the cheated on, not the cheater, in my relationship. So, I know exactly how the "cheated on" spouse feels. But, I also know that healing and moving on is possible. Although I never would've believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger than ever after my husband's affair. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/