Do relationships actually get better after infidelity?
I was reading a boilerplate article just now about why people cheat even when they’re in a loving relationship, and after going through the laundry list of possible reasons, it said "Many couples find that their relationship ends up better than it was before the cheating was discovered."
I’ve seen this is other places too, most notably in Not Just Friends, which helped my husband and I a lot.
So, if you’re a few years out from Dday and are on the reconciliation path, is your relationship better than before? If so, in what ways? And how did it get better?
I find myself struggling with this idea, because it’s hard to believe that will ever be the case for me, even though I wish it was. I’ve definitely seen personal growth in the process of recovery from husband’s infidelity. I’m stronger and have a better sense of myself and a more deep-seated belief in my own resilience.
But I don’t feel like my marriage is better. We’ve done a lot of healing and recovering and reconciling, and we still love each other deeply and have a strong partnership. And we’ve plumbed some depths together that we hadn’t prior to his affair. But there’s still a flatness in me—a darkness where there used to be a spark.
What about you all?
46 comments posted: Monday, June 12th, 2023
It’s been almost three years since i discovered my husband’s affair. Reconciliation is good overall, but I still struggle with that flat feeling of being mostly back to normal, but without the same spark I felt toward him before, and with an undercurrent of sadness that I feel now and then.
I don’t get many triggers any more, but I’m struggling with one right now.
Tomorrow is our 23rd anniversary. I wish the day were just over or non-existent.
On our 20th anniversary he was deep in his affair. On the actual day he was in another state, caring for his dying sister. I was holding down the kids and home fort. It was the height of the early pandemic lockdown. We couldn’t celebrate together, but in the days prior, I went through 20 years of photos, culled the best ones of us together, wrote a heartfelt long email, and timed it to send at midnight. I also made a really emotional and celebratory social media post, which is somewhat unlike me (I’m relatively private). We were texting each other leading up to midnight, and I called him right on the dot of 12. We talked for a while, professed our love, reminisced, etc. He also did a social media post (also unusual for him).
One of the first things I noticed as things came to light over soft DDay 1 a month later, and nuclear DDay2 a month after that, was the phone records of that night. He was texting her in between texting me, and he called her as soon as he hung up with me. I cannot tell you how seeing those phone numbers and time stamps destroyed me. It obliterated every vulnerable thing in my heart. I knew right then that even if we fully reconciled, our anniversary was done forever.
It gets worse. After DDay2 in July of 2020, there has been almost no trickle truth.
Except for one significant instance. Late last summer he wrote me an email to tell me there was something he hadn’t told me that he wanted to get off his chest.
So, in May 2020, while he was at his sisters on our twentieth anniversary, I planned a picnic and hike for us to a place we had never been so that we would have some kind of 20th anniversary celebration when he returned. Everything was shut down—there were virtually no other date options available. Even most parks and nature trails were shut down, so it took some real effort to figure out.
The trickle truth? He turned around the next week and took his AP to the same place. A place he would never have known about if I hadn’t planned our anniversary outing there. And she blew him in his truck. The vintage 80s jeep Comanche pioneer truck that I helped track down and do the logistics to buy a month before that because he needed a truck and I wanted him to have something cool because he was working so hard and going through such a time with his sister.
Folks, that was a rough piece of trickle truth. I was stunned and just tried to absorb it, but with our anniversary staring me in the face tomorrow it’s come up like a bitch. I feel sick. How does anyone ever wrap their head around shit like this and fully move on? I mean, I’m ok. But sometimes I wonder if being ok just means I’ve just adjusted to carrying around a lot of pain and sadness as I live my ordinary life.
Why do we, the betrayed, feel this so hard? And why don’t they? I feel pretty sure nothing would make my husband happier than going out on a nice romantic date tomorrow, celebrating, and having great sex. That would not be hard for him to do at all. And I love him, and I wish that were the case for me. But here I sit, wishing the day didn’t exist.
16 comments posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2023
Hard Candy Christmas
I was thinking about how many people on here are experiencing a painful holiday season due to reminders it brings of their partner’s affair or just because betrayal takes such a terrible toll on the psyche.
I’m fortunate that my husband’s affair didn’t take place over the holidays, but the first couple of holiday seasons after it were very hard.
I know Dolly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but Hard Candy Christmas has been a favorite of mine the last few holiday seasons. Here’s hoping it’s helpful to someone else.
If anyone has any other songs, thoughts, strategies, etc. that have helped you get through difficult holiday season, I’d love to hear them.
4 comments posted: Saturday, December 3rd, 2022
How am I still this fragile/emotional?
It's been just over two years since I found out about my husband's affair. Reconciliation has been bumpy, but we're progressing.
Marital relationship aside, I've been working on myself. I deliberately turn my thoughts away from painful circling and self-pity and negative self-talk. I dwell on things that I'm grateful for. I lean into my values and priorities. I invest in the relationships and activities that feel meaningful to me. I deliberately pursue things that make me happy: gardening, creative outlets, paddle boarding, reading. I feel stronger.
One of the things I've prioritized is exercise, and part of that is doing some running. I'm 45 and not very fast, but I try to do some 5ks now and then to keep me motivated. I'm a teacher, and even though I'm a little overwhelmed with the start of the school year I've still been running a couple times a week on the treadmill. I signed up for a small 5k in a tiny town nearby and got up early to go run it this morning. I was running it in very good time for me and feeling really proud of myself. But the course wasn't well marked, and I made a wrong turn and disqualified myself. Not a big deal. The organizers were kind, my $25 entry fee went to a great cause, and I got some good exercise on a beautiful morning.
Pre-affair me would have shrugged this off as a minor disappointment. Instead, this morning, I limped back to my car and fell apart. I was absolutely flooded with sadness and disappointment and feelings of worthlessness. On the drive home I was weeping to the point that I had to pull over to compose myself.
How am I still this much of an emotional basket case? So many of the stories on this site are so much objectively worse than mine; what is wrong with me that my husband's garden variety midlife crisis affair altered me so much? I feel like all the healing is a facade; that all I've done is construct a thin shell over a deep reservoir of pain that I can still fall into at any moment. How does one get past this?
14 comments posted: Sunday, August 28th, 2022
Reconciliation When No Contact Isn't Feasible
I would love advice on how to deal with an affair and move on with life when no contact isn't really feasible. Has anyone experienced this?
Long story short, I found out 15 months ago that my husband of 20 years had an intense, six-month emotional and physical affair with a coworker. Up until that time we both would have characterized our marriage as healthy, happy, and fulfilling, and he has never blamed me for the affair. He has worked hard to rebuild trust and repair the damage he has caused. Things will never be the same, but I feel we are on a good path toward reconciliation.
In the months after the affair came to light, my husband was willing to do whatever I asked him to save the marriage, but it was also clear that he didn't see cutting off all contact with his affair partner as reasonable or necessary. His perspective was that as long as each of them was being completely transparent with their spouses they could go back to a level of friendship that would allow them to have a collegial professional relationship (changing jobs isn't really a feasible option for either of them).
This was a very difficult issue for a year. I think he was holding out hope that things would go back to normal--that he and his coworker would go back to being colleagues and friends, and that he and I would be reconciled and I would trust him again.
Eventually, he came to the realization that a return to the pre-affair status quo wasn't going to happen, and he became much more explicit and intentional about keeping contact to the bare minimum and shutting down interactions that she initiated. That shift was huge for me, and it propelled us into a new stage of recovery and reconciliation.
She's still around, though. We're in a small community with many overlapping social connections. Today, on a Saturday, my husband has spent about three hours dealing with workplace drama that his former affair partner is at the center of. He's being transparent and apologetic, and I'm trying to be mature and understanding, but I feel depressed and exhausted over having this woman still connected to my life.
Thoughts? Advice? Commiseration? I don't have friends or family members to talk to about this stuff, and I'm on a waiting list for individual counseling (it's a six month wait, at least, in my area).
40 comments posted: Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021