Infidelity and the Determination to Hang On

These thoughts come from a coaching call with a client who doggedly wants to hang on to his spouse and repeatedly tries to forcefully convince her of the errors of her ways.

He, like many I coach, are tied to the hip of their spouse/partner. And that is understandable.

After xx number of years sleeping with a person, sharing meals with that person. raising children together, celebrating Holidays and birthdays, paying bills, vacations together, seeing the best and worst of another, allowing the other to see the best and worst in us, and living out the good, bad and ugly of life we form a bond that is nearly unbreakable – even if marked by intense pain and disappointment.

He, like some of you, is fighting like crazy to keep his relationship. He doesn’t want to lose her (and all that she represents).

He, like some of you, out of his fear and pain, says words that push her away, although he wants her close. Because she is lost in her own pain and lostness, she cannot hear beyond his words.

If this is your scenario, please consider trying on some of these suggestions.

1. Appreciate the power of your determination. You are doggedly determined. You will not give up. Embrace that as a power of your character. Examine other areas of your life where you show that same kind of determination. Smile at yourself for your persistence.

2. Take small steps to be more subtle. Care for yourself in kindly small ways.

3. Watch carefully the response you get from your spouse/partner when you resist less his/her attempts to pull away from you.

Your determination can never be taken from you. And, you can learn to use it in more subtle and perhaps more powerful ways.


  1. This is how I ended up losing my long term boyfriend of 5 years. His mother left his father when he was 7 and his wife had an affair on him.
    I was shocked that the man who despised adultry,and so was so loving and caring ended up mirroring the behavior. I lost him to a relentless flirting administrative assistant. He was “confused” at how good she made him feel. The attention that you get when something is “new”.
    Unfortunately there is no support to trying to resolve the relationship. I ended up walking away with my heart left behind. It has been 7 months and I am still confused at what happened and how blind I was to anything that was going on. How could I still love a man that would do this to me? How could he do such an about face? walk away without ever looking back, not unlike a hit and run accident.

  2. Mele, I too am in a similiar situatation. My husband of 17 years (a professional musician) is trying to decide if he should leave me and our 3 kids for someone else, (also a musician). This has been going on/off 18 months. Her endless flirting, newness and admiration of his talent has changed him into someone I do not know. How can you love someone who is willing to throw a 20 year relationship and family away? I do love him though and am trying to hang in there while he is getting counseling and “deciding” what he should do. I also am not presently working so we are financially vulnerable if he leaves. I understand your pain and confusion and sympathize for your loss. Be glad you are not married with children, you could be me. Perhaps it was time for your boyfriend to show his true colors and you will find someone eventually who is a better match for you. Try to be optimistic, sometimes that is all we have; hope. I believe some things happen for a reason even if we do not know what they are at the time. I do think this is true. You will be a better person for this experience. Take care and I will try to do the same.

  3. my husband of 25 years had a text messageing relationship with someone 13 years younger. i believe it was more than that because he started buying sex toys and changed his ways of having sex with me. plus i was treated mean and when i confronted her about things she denyed the rumors and when she saw me on the same busy street as her she called the police saying i was following her. she even came to my house on valentines day with a gift for my husband saying if i want to think it then here you go. that was before i found out about the text messageing from secret cell fones that i didn’t know about. he insists thats all it was. i don’t believe it. the texts went on every day during work and at night to. he only met her at a bank when he opend an account. and 6 weeks later they had their secret fones. she has the whore reputation. and isn’t attractive. i am and people cant believe hed go for her. he even last summer would leave on his motorcycle every chance he could. she flips me off when she sees me now and blows me kisses. the police told us to stay away from each other. but she still agitates me. i have witnessess to it.

  4. In 18 years I also would have never thought but life does go on. The sex changed I am sleeping with a stranger, we are still together but not really in both our hearts he is affraid to cross the line at this time but it will happen and he will totally move on, I firmly believe that. The reason I say this is I told him to go and be where he would be happy and he is still here out of what I don’t know but I believe he loves me but is not IN LOVE another of lifes little parables. My life just sucks at this point but it will get better in time they say it heals and I just hope they are right. Wishing everyone the best and bright future no matter which path they take.

  5. Well my husband of 13 years had an affair for the past 3 years and in July 2006 I threw him out because I couldn’t take it any longer. He still doesn’t know, or tells me, who he loves more her and me, but he is mostly with her and was seeing me a couple times a week until he came out and told me that he was going to move in with her. I exploded and called her and told her he has been seeing me. He got furious with me as she does not trust him now (probably never did) He cheated on me and she cheated on her husband. The affair was fine until she divorced her husband then she started the presure for him to leave me about 8 months ago. Which has been 8 months of hell for me. He still calls me and tells me he loves me. I still love him so much but can see that I must move on with my life as I know I have lost him. He and her are both alcoholics and really belong together!!! I hope and pray that people start to get morality and don’t have to go through this ever.

  6. My husband left me 10 month ago for the love of another woman whom I detest ofcourse. Before he left me, she would fly to the places he’d go to for business, like Dublin, Stockholm or Barcelona. Now isn’t that what you call a real bitch (excuse my language). They did this for about a year. We live in Munich, Germany. We have 5 kids, 3 of them studying already, and we’ve been married for 23 years. I’m devastated and have the feeling I’m not going to get over this. She’s taken away my family.How can a woman do such a thing? Something I will never understand. I know he is responsible for his own actions, but a woman shouldn’t abuse a mans temptations, not when he’s got a family with 5 kids and 23 years of marriage behind him. She doesn’t know the family or the situation.She’s got now ground to stand on, dispite the fact that she thinks she has.She’s just shallowly believing everything he says. So selfish! I’m just hoping that his weakness (he misses the family contact)will make him dump her (which she deserves), and come back to me, after gaining his respect of course. I hate the idea of having to face this seperate life for the rest of my life. I want to celebrate the family things together with him and not alone or with a third person between us. I love him. I want his love back!

  7. Movin on Up says

    You have to draw a line at some point and stand up for yourself. My wife’s affair began about 18 months ago. She became involved with a man who was also married and had 3 children. I am sure it was full of thrills in the beginning as they decieved everyone and weaved a web of deception so they could be together. The behaviour was completely reckless so it was only a matter of time before they were discovered. My spouse agreed to councelling and so did he. She said she didn’t know what she wanted and we sat through a lot of councelling sessions basically completely stalled out. She claimed she was not seeing him but it was painfully obvious within a few of months this was not true. They were still seeing eachother but more careful to hide it. Not good enough though. Her only tie to me was the children it seemed. Protecting them became my motivation for saving the marriage because I could find nothing good about her. As the lies continued and she could not break off the relationship I learned to love myself and eventually saw that I needed out. How could I ever trust or respect someone who had so little regard for their family and the OP’s family which was in it’s own struggle to salvage the marriage. I just could not take it and decided to stop being a doormat. She moved out and it was like a great burden was lifted. I missed seeing the children daily but found that my new found peace made it possible to be a better father again. When everything in your life is upside down and you are constantly emotionally drained everything in your life suffers. Anyway, I made a decision to file and she moved out. The OP eventually moved back in with his wife and family. Even then she said they still talked. She thought we should try councelling again but I recognized that the damage was to permanent and I would never regain respect for her. How can you live with someone you will never trust and have no respect for? She now tries to make me feel like this is somehow my fault and I presume believes that I should have waited on the sidelines while she determined if the new relationship was viable. “If you loved me you would have give me time to work throught it”. When did people stop having to be accountable for their actions? At times it has been challenging to remain strong. Children are so precious and the divorce process can be excruciatingly painful. However, self respect is all you have at the end of the day and you owe it to youself to seek happiness. Why do so many people allow precious years of their life to be stolen and hope their cheating spouse will repent. What then? A person who has no morals will either cheat again, walk out one day or engage in some other destructive behaviour.

  8. My husband thought her could pick up women, have sex, and that would be the end of it. But his last “friend” turned the tables on him, she blackmailed him with the pregnancy, then abortion, yadda yadda. She kept the pressure on by threatening to call me and exposing their activity. Well he stupidly (his words) was so scared he went along with it for 2 years, until. lo and belhold she exposed it anyway. We have been tearing down (trying to get past this part) and rebuilding (working hard here) our relationship. We are in counseling, and he has been very open with me regarding the whole thing. He has said repeatly that he is so sorry, that he hurt me so terribly. We keep saying that we are almost over the hump, but God, it’s is so hard. I told him, I could never do this to anyone, it is such a total betrayal. My life before exposure, is like a bad dream, I don’t know what is real or true any longer. I don’t know how long it takes to get over this, I don’t know if I ever will. I just worry that I will harbor deep ill feelings towards him and that they will stop our relationship from moving forward. I pray for spouses that are cheating as well as the spouses that are being cheated on. What a selfish, deceitful thing to do to anyone, much less someone you love, and if you don’t love that person anymore, LEAVE THE RELATIONSHIP. There is NO excuses for this type of behaviour. It’s total immaturity. Good luck all.

  9. It really makes me wonder – what type of a woman will deliberately and knowingly enter into a relationship with a married man ? Has she no morals, no conscience? The funny thing is, my cheating spouse was telling me about how his boss was having an ‘affair’ with a younger female colleague, how he would shower her with gifts, etc. And he said he was disgusted and disappointed with the boss.
    But he himself went ahead and enter into affair no.2. Seems to be very inadequate, always ‘searching’, and justify himself by saying he has ‘inherited his father’s genes’.
    Can any spouse with some sort of dignity and self-respect ever continue with this marriage? Yet my faith (and some love left for him) tells me to hang on. But for how long I don’t know. Perhaps I should just take one day at a time ? Can anyone advise?

  10. TheOtherWoman says

    I am the mistress of a married man. I’m sure you’re all going to get righteous and indignant–sobeit. But for your edification, I thought I would weigh in (pun intended ;)) below:

    I do not expect my lover to leave his wife for me. I am more-or-less content with the arrangement we have. I supply elements in a relationship for him that he cannot get at home. And I’m not talking just about sex–although that is how it started (of course). Primarly I give him intellectual stimulation–I’m cultured, witty, well-read, widely-traveled, etc. We also share many of the same leisure activities and the same black, dry sense of humor. We have a similar perspective on faith and spirituality. We have opposing political views, which usually leads to flaming rows–it’s good to be passionate ;).

    I am an independent creature–I do not rely on him for any sort of financial support–in fact, much (not all) of the time, I foot the bills (I make as much money as both he and his wife combined). In return, he does stuff around my house for me.

    From what he tells me, his wife does not make much of an effort to challenge him spiritually or intellectually. In fact, I felt I got quite an insight into her personality when he quoted me a line from a diatribe she scribed where she said “My life is boring and humdrum and you don’t seem to care.” Erm–whose responsibility is it that one’s own life needs some excitement and interest? Would that not be one’s own responsibility? People who are bored tend to become boring themselves. Q.E.D.

    She is very reliant upon him to make all decisions, do all thinking, etc. for the family. This, needless to say, is not a quality he finds attractive–the needy, dependent, clingy persona. He loves that I am competent. No surprises there.

    He has said that he chose unwisely in selecting a partner for life when they married (he was 25, she was 21). What he wanted was an equal, a partner, not another dependent. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

    She likes to watch television and gossip about mutual acquaintances, etc. I haven’t watched television in 4 or 5 years now (it’s a long story). I read books. I talk to fascinating people. I get out of the house and participate in interesting activities. This all gives me fodder for interesting discussions. As a friend of mine puts it in describing her own unhappy marriage, “You interact, not just intersect.”

    Intersecting, in her terms, means that your contact with each other revolves around what the children did today, how was work today, gossip about mutual acquaintances, etc. Nothing of any serious intellectual or spiritual import. Nothing that really requires an unveiling of the self. Interacting, on the other hand, involves mutual passions, shared interests, spinning ideas, concepts, feelings off of each other so that you are each pushing each other to the next higher level of being. This is not a quality reserved for a sexual relationship, by the way. I have this quality in almost all my friendships as well.

    Incidentally, it’s *so* not about the looks/age thing. I am almost 40 years old. I am quite overweight. My hair has greyed considerably. He is 36, fit, and good-looking. She is 32 and average in appearance.

    This has been going on for 18 months now. She vaguely suspects there is something going on, but I believe she doesn’t really want to know the answer. He does not want to break up the family since he has two small children, and I do understand that. When I met him, he was drinking himself into oblivion on a daily basis because he was so miserable. He told me I made him want to be a better person, and he cut back significantly on the alcohol consumption.

    They were on the verge of divorce. I appeared. I believe I am a buffer that allows him to continue with his home life as he has a place to interact with someone on an equal footing. They did the counseling thing for about 4-6 months, and he did say it helped him to tone down his angry outbursts and to communicate better than they had been. But at core, there have been no changes in how they relate to each other.

    So that’s a brief perspective from the other side. I write this mainly because I was curious about the balance of the posts to this board–they seem to consist of “I don’t understand what he sees in her–I’m younger/prettier/more moral, the sex was just new thrills, it’s totally his fault that this occurred, etc. etc. etc.” And I am left wondering how you got to where you are, and how (if) any behaviors will change as a result.

  11. To the other woman: Notice no capitals here for my lack of respect for you. Self-righteous and indignant is what you described us cheated on wives could react. If you reread your letter I would have to say that is how YOU portray yourself. You write you are “more or less” satisfied with the relationship. At what point will you be “less” satisfied? At what point will you want “more?” All relationships either escalate to a higher level or wither given enough time. When either scenario happens, you the mistress will have effectively helped to drain the marriage of energy the wayward husband should have spent on his relationship. As long as you continue with him, you are an obstacle to all three of you being true to yourselves as worthy human beings.

    You say you are providing him with needs he doesn’t get at home. And he provides for you the role of handyman. That is a steep price you pay for self respect. If you make as much money as they combined, why can’t you HIRE a handyman? Wouldn’t that create self respect instead of bragging about your income? Seems to me you are trying to justify your behavior.

    So. He doesn’t get the stimulation of an intellectual partner who is independent but receives that from you. Since they have only been married 11 years and he “chose unwisely,” when will he be honest with her and make a choice? Eleven years is not very long and at 32, she can start her life over WITH SOMEONE WHO WANTS HER. If she is a boring, TV person with nothing going on in her life, that is her choice. If in fact she is and he is not handing you baloney so you “understand” him. He is the one responsible for moving the marriage along in some direction other than stagnation and creating obstacles to recovery. Is this fair to anyone? Most of all the cheated-on-innocent wife?

    There are self help books on this subject that center on NEEDS not being met by spouses. Just as you described, it’s not looks. Seems you have “helped” since he was drinking when you found him. I don’t see how distracting him from his problems, creating a diversion from his marriage and draining emotional energy is helping him. If anything you are a whale in his path preventing his ship from sailing. Because “at the core” of the marriage there have been no changes because of….. YOU! So you see. Your stroking of your own ego in this picture paints you a self centered, selfish person who tries to justify her actions by the deficencies of another person; the unsuspecting wife.

    By the way, my husband has no degree and I have two. I am well educated, articulate and interesting. I “interact” with people and have many friends. If I seem self-righteous and indignant, I deserve to be after reading the diatribe above. There is just NO excuse for cheating with a married man. All marriages have problems and it is up to the couple to be honest with each other and improve their relationship. NOTHING JUSTIFIES A THIRD PERSON IN MARRIAGE!!!

  12. How well written, Ev. Couldn’t have written it better myself. The third person in my marriage justified it by saying I wasn’t a good enough wife to my husband. He was a drunk and cheated on me 6 times(I just found out). I guess I should have been happy with that. NOT!!!
    If husbands spent have the time trying to make their wifes happy as the OP I believe the divorce rate would be a least 1/2.

  13. Chan: You are asking for advice. Here goes: Yes, live one day at a time because each day can be different. Lean on friends and family if you can but remember, it is your problem not theirs. At some point you may need to see a professional and get on anti-depressants. Don’t feel bad about this because you need all the help you can get. This may be more of the cheater’s problem causing the crisis, not you. At some point you will have to ask the old question, “Am I better off with him or without him,” You can hang in there as long as possible and this book explains how to do that, how these situations happen and what your choices are. There are more people doing this in the world than you could ever imagine. Help is out there, look for it and read as much as you can. The best way to survive is to be active and get a life. I know. I am finally crawling out of the pit.

  14. Thank you Ev. It just seems more challenging with 2 kids (aged 7 and 9). Especially when they ask about the father and how they miss him, etc.

  15. Chan…Hang in there. This too shall pass.

    Think of the things that you want to accomplish for you and your kids.

    This is an chance to better yourself not a setback. Do all the things you did not do before. Go Crazy! Get Silly! Read that Book! Take that Class!

    I have used my situation to lose 40 pounds … I feel great and like it when people tell me how nice am I looking these days. I am going for 50 more.

    Wish me luck!

    Good luck and Keep the Faith!

  16. Movin’ on up: It was nice to reread about your experience and how you are handling your situation. I have hung in there long enough until tonight. We both agreed he should move out for the time being. At some point you have to stop being a doormat and start thinking about yourself and the kids. My husband has been cheating on me with an emotional affair. They can’t seem to leave each other alone. I don’t share my husband and I have been doing it for too long, 21 months. I hope it will be more of a relief and I can find a job. I never thought it would come to this. We both agree we had a good marriage until this OP came along. This could happen to anyone if they are not careful and nourishing their marriage.

  17. We have been married for 25 years. Very happily. Until about 3 years ago. I overheard my husband telling somebody over the phone that she is “not 100% but 200% what he wants..” He saw me and quickly ended the conversation. He explained that he had too much to drink (he came from a work function) and that he loves me very much.
    Over the last 3 years I noticed his libido taking a dive, and constant sms’s from this person. I confronted her (she works with him) and she promised that she would stop depending on him for emotional support at work.
    This past year we have had three showdowns regarding their affair. And he admitted that he slept with her, took her away for a weekend etx. After the second showdown he promised that he will stop. I got hold of his cell acc. and saw that he was still sending her up to 100 smse per day. Not counting the calls to her phone.
    That really hurt me. To think that he made a promise to be true. And while I was still recovering from the pain he was already busy courting her again.
    Anyway, the last and third 27/10 time I confronted him, I was so calm – I even noticed the colour of the leaves falling on the lawn behind him. He chose to stay with me and end this affair. I still dont trust him, but I am reading a lot about how to handle situations like this. And I keep my ears and eyes open. I only tell him that I love him once a day.Not more. I went to see my doctor and got anti depression tablets to help me look happy. And I made an appointment with a marriage councellor. He is going to see him in an hours time.
    I hope that he will be able to talk to this man and tell him what it is that he is looking for, or afraid of.
    I never thought that something like this could ever happen to me – we were so happy.

  18. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. Thank you Ev for articulating the basic fact: there is no excuse for a third party interfering in a marriage. My husband is letting himself spiral out of control with his career and family while he messes around with the indecision whether he should end the affair or pursue more vigorously. Prayer and an understanding clergy have been a huge help. Luckily, before I discovered this website, I already felt I shouldn’t involve my family, in case our marriage does get stronger. It is difficult to erase a bad reputation with extended family. So I introspect: I am ok. It is not my fault. I don’t want divorce but if it comes to that, I will pick up the pieces and go on. Life is good and God blesses. I just hope I gain the strength through this trial that will make me a better person, no matter what the outcome. My prayers to you others out there.

  19. It is great to come here and see that I’m not alone either. My husband and I fell in love when we were 12 yrs old and have been ever since. We got married at 18 and had a baby 3 yrs later (we’re now 23) 9 months ago I caught him having an affair with his ex..he was ending it when I found out. My world fell apart and I kicked him out..the girl was nothing but trash..she was planning her wedding at the time. Of course I got a hold of her poor fiancee and told him eveything so her wedding fell apart. The minute I cought him he dropped her like a bad habbit and begged for forgivenes..said she was a huge mistake and now he really realized that I’m the only one for him. He took me to church and wanted to do counceling..anything to help me forgive him. I believe that he’ll never do it again, and now he treats me better than ever and I feel his love for me is 10 times stronger. But I’m sooo full of anger and pain I don’t know what to do with it so I take it out on him everyday…it has been almost a year of hell for him, sometimes I wonder how he can even stick around for so long crying and saying he’s sorry for the same thing but he does because he says he deserves it and he wants to save our love. I love him the same but I can’t help wanting to do the same to him because I feel like is gonna help me get over it, to put him in so much pain like he did to me. We had lost our virginities to each other and that meant so much to me…but now I have to deal with him giving himself to someone else and he’s still the only man I’ve ever been with. just so many thoughts and emotions…he betrayed me and I trusted him with my life. I try so hard but I can’t forget…but I also don’t want to be with anybody else. We both know that if I can get over this, we would be the happiest couple ever but I can’t forgive him. How could I ever trust him with my heart again?? If anyone has any advise I would truly appreciate it. Thank you

  20. To the other woman if a married man is so attractive to you
    as a lover then why dont you have one of your own, maybe there is a real reason for that. And maybe in between your
    lovemaking you could discipline her kids while your at it. since you are so indignant and confident there should be no problem there. What really gets me is that you have the odasity to accuse her of being responsible for her humdrum life but you overlook that he is no diff and by being with you certainly was the worst choice he could have made . If you are so cultured then why are you sleeping with someone elses husband most cultured people have better morals, perhaps he is using you because no one else is right now. You base knowing this womans personality from a mere statement likely said out of working through their probs. and the from what he tells you statement did you really think he would tell you how much he loves he obviously more than you or he would be married to you right now and not her. Your giving yourself way to much credit. Go find your own man or maybe with such culture and refinement you can only stoop to this level. get over yourself goddess

  21. Woman of Faith says

    People need to be challenged to find ways to rejuvenate and recharge the relationships to which they originally committed, rather than looking for a seemingly easy way out.

    That “out” avoids their own internal issues, erodes their self-respect, and destroys lives. Nothing good can come of a relationship based on deception, lies, and betrayal.

    Typically, the major attraction is NOT a commonality of interests or temperament, but rather one of internal discontent and a taste for the forbidden. I posit: this “man” might not be nearly so interesting–OR interested in HER–if he were single. Much of the thrill of an affair is the mere fact of unavailability, the ability to draw in one who “belongs” to another…underscoring one’s power of attraction.

    OtherWoman may indeed be fantastic in many ways. But her moral compass has lost its magnet. If she has this much to offer, she would be wise to recognize the value within herself and not cheapen it by whoring it out to a boychild who “belongs” to someone else. Her “right” to this man is not predicated on the “worthiness” of his wife. His wife is still his wife.

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