For too many people, cheating on one’s spouse is no longer seen as a “big deal” thanks to the low morality of Hollywood and the example they set in their lives and in media. Cheating of any kind, to any degree, is immoral, and it is a big deal. But, it doesn’t mean that your marriage has to end.
Any type of cheating, from so-called “emotional affairs” to discovering a hidden longterm girlfriend, should serve as a catalyst to change things. Understand that this is a wakeup call that your marriage has not been working well for some time now.
I’ve spent decades helping wives recover from this situation and transform their failing marriage into a dream marriage. You too can have a fresh start; some situations more easily than others, but in almost every case.
In this article, I will help you better understand what is happening, and hopefully convince you to take a realistic approach that will put your marriage on solid ground again, moving towards a relationship that is more fulfilling than it has ever been.
The shock, disappointment, confusion, and numbness you may feel at the moment always passes. I promise that you will get past this one way or another.
Don’t wait to see what he does or hang your hopes on easily made and easily broken promises. Rather than just reacting randomly to the situation, why not proactively get your marriage back under control and moving in the right direction?
The “trick” to a quick recovery and a longterm positive trajectory is to change the underlying dynamics in your marriage. When done right, this will ensure that not only will dating sites cease to be an issue, but all of your other problems will stop popping up again and again.
You can improve your marriage without his participation, or even his knowledge of what you are doing. And to be honest, it is best that way, trust me. Most of our clients are wives who have done it this way.
Instead of getting swallowed up by the magnitude of his betrayal, let’s make this the turning point for your marriage. Turn this boulder of an obstacle into a stepping stone towards marital happiness.
My desire is to not just help you get your marriage back on track, and we are very good at that, but also to give you what you need to fulfill your original reason for getting married: to be happy. We have helped countless wives who were told it was impossible to save their marriage even after months of traditional marriage counseling and marriage retreats.
I know it is not easy to hear that your husband would not have strayed if your marriage had been better or if you had been a “better” wife. But if you pretend that things at home were fine until now, you are fooling yourself. Things were NOT fine.
Of course, it wasn’t all your fault, nor even mostly your fault. But both of you participated in your marriage getting to the point where he would even consider looking elsewhere. That is the fundamental problem. What occurred in your marriage that brought it to that point? Who is to blame is irrelevant. The only thing that matters now is how you get back on track by fixing those underlying problems. And as a woman, you alone possess a unique, inherent power to change everything for the better, which we will discuss in this article.
However, if you’ve already decided that your marriage is over, or that you want to condemn your husband, this article isn’t for you. Some wives are so overwhelmed with anger that they cannot hear the truth no matter what. If you are still in that place of anger try reading this article later, because it would be better to save your family rather than lose it over infidelity.
You might consider rebuilding your marriage just for the kids, as children can be tragically harmed by divorce. That’s a good incentive, but a better solution is to resuscitate your marriage and get it back on track for your own and your husband’s happiness. We want your marriage to be better than ever, and we can help you get there.
Let his straying be a wake-up call for you. If you keep doing what you have been doing, then your marriage will keep getting worse, guaranteed. But if you start taking positive steps now, you will not only save your marriage, but you will be able to have a great one; I promise you that, too. Don’t forget, I used to be a divorce mediator and saw all the reasons people got divorced. I got all of my clients from marriage counselors who could do nothing for couples. Then I started saving their marriages.
I know what works and what doesn’t. Everything ultimately begins with your choice of whether you want to start taking proactive action to rebuild your marriage while you still can, or if you want to let everything crumble because of his grave error. If you’re at least willing to consider rebuilding your marriage for yourself or for your children, then let’s explore how that can be done.
“Why did he do this to me?”
He did not do it to hurt you. Thinking he did so only adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to the mess. He did it because he felt that he wasn’t getting what he needed out of his marriage and thought he might find it elsewhere. No that doesn’t mean more sex, as I will explain throughout this article.
Let’s start at the beginning with what you probably “knew” but could not explain. Marriage is the deepest and most holy relationship you will probably ever have. It is a union between two souls, hence the term soulmate.
What that means in practice is that you, as a soul, are supposed to employ your free-will and utilize your body and mind for the soul purpose of expressing love in ways that are not possible in any other relationship. Marriage is the perfect safe-space for doing so.
Couples who live in such a harmonious, loving marriage would never consider cheating. Not because it is immoral, but because their hearts are so full of love that the thought never enters into their minds.
Does that make sense? If you have all you need, you don’t need to be told not to steal. If you have a marriage that is getting happier every single day, nobody has to tell you it is immoral to stray, The thought never crosses your mind; it’s repugnant.
So rather than thinking his actions were intended to hurt you, it is best to think “What can I do to heal our marriage so he would never even consider looking at another woman?” It is best to start over with a whole new set of ideas about marriage. Ideas that lead toward a fulfilling marriage for both of you. I don’t know of anything else that stands a chance of working.
What usually occurs, in the vast majority of cases, is that both of you allowed your normal instinctive reactions to get on each other’s nerves. You didn’t open up completely. You reacted to each other, jabbed each other, were sarcastic, argued with each other over the silliest things, and generally took each other for granted. You didn’t respect each other, and the problems continued to escalate until something big happened such as him cheating. Or maybe that hasn’t happened yet, but you’ve discovered that he’s looking on dating sites and thinking about it.
In other cases, you don’t really fight, but neither do you connect. Maybe you have sex but you don’t really intimately connect your hearts. Without cultivating real love, you never know the true depth of intimacy and what it means. I can tell you it is far beyond anything physical. It is a true, spiritual experience to connect with your soulmate. Most couples feel it at their wedding for a brief moment, then they lose it as they get drunk at the reception.
You’ve both been missing out on all of the potential in your marriage. Neither of you knew about this. You weren’t taught about it in school nor by your parents, so it’s not your fault for not knowing.
What you both should have been doing is properly cultivating loving behavior and habits that express true, unconditional love. It is not too late. You can start now, but please acknowledge to yourself that you have not done so up to this point. Be honest about how you have behaved, and don’t tell me about all of the “unconditional love” you’ve given him. I have been doing this for a long time. You cannot fool me as easily as you can yourself. Both of you participated in developing this situation and the proof is in the pudding.
Hopefully, you are now willing to acknowledge that his infidelity wasn’t the cause of your marriage problems. It is only a symptom. It is the end result of months or years of bickering, lack of respect, and harmful underlying dynamics. If you fix the real issues, your marriage will heal very quickly and he will come back to his senses and his wife. We have seen this happen time and time again over decades and it will likely happen for you too if you take my message to heart and adhere to it.
This means you will have to learn to understand yourself, him, and your marriage. How else, without love, will you be able to forgive what he has done? You need to learn how to tap into your soul’s compassion and understanding to rebuild your marriage.
However, on your road to recovery, there are many things you cannot do if you want to see success. Let’s review what some of those are so you don’t step in the wrong direction.
What Does Not Work
Any of these things you might try will backfire. This might seem unrealistic and counter-intuitive, but take our word for it, we have seen these situations countless times, and none of these actions work.
We constantly receive emails from women who write things like, “I made the mistake of confronting my husband and…” Meaning, they read one of my articles or watched one of my videos saying to not do it, they tried it anyway, and it blew up in their face. Learn from their mistakes!
If you’ve already tried these things, and most likely you have, then you’ll know what we’re talking about. It’s not the end of the world, you just have more challenges to deal with. Mistakes do not end everything. You just have to start again.
1. Do not confront your husband
This includes forcing your husband to “come clean”, apologize, or beg for forgiveness. And absolutely do not drag him to counseling to be tag-team confronted and shamed.
Confrontation is an attack, period. It causes anyone to dig in even deeper. We want to bring the two of you closer, not further apart. If you ignore this warning or have already confronted him, these are the most likely results you can expect:
- He will lie – Lying is by far the most common reaction. People who are busted, lie to ‘get out of it’. This is what the vast majority of people do. It is a primal, ‘flight or fight’ defense. Lying is running away from danger. And since he has already been lying (which is what straying is) it is pretty easy to go deeper into the lies.
- He will make impossible-to-keep promises – e.g. “I made a mistake, it will never happen again, let’s work on our marriage…etc.” These piecrust promises, as described by Mary Poppins, are ‘easily made and easily broken‘. Unless the dynamics of your marriage change, what you have now is what you will always have.
- He will blame you, your parents, the girl at the office, etc – You get the picture. The two scenarios above are the ‘flight’. This is the ‘fight’. He will confront the ‘danger’ to himself by deflecting and attacking.
Nobody behaves well when they are confronted. At best you’ll have a fragile hope that he never strays again, but if you don’t fix the problems that lead to this situation, then he’ll go right back to doing it again, or leave you.
2. Do not tell anyone what he did
This is a cardinal rule for marriage, even when things are good. Yet it is so rarely adhered to. Marriage is a private relationship that is closed off to the world. Only the two of you are supposed to know what is going on within your marriage, and that practical rule is especially true for any problems.
Don’t go running to your girlfriends, mother, or sisters. We have seen situations where once “the confidant” became aware that there were marriage problems, she moved in now that she knew the husband was “available” to extra-marital activities. Even loving sisters have done this.
Don’t share your relationship with others. Even with counselors, keep the details minimal. Describing the details will not help in the slightest to improve your marriage—changing your behavior is the only thing that works. Spilling all the details will not allow a counselor to help you more. Asking about them only helps to keep the clock ticking or satisfy their “curiosity”; they are people too.
3. Hide any and all marital problems from your kids
This is so important that I wish I could make this bold and so strong that you had no choice but to follow it.
You are obligated to provide an ultra-safe environment, for your children, like a cocoon made of steel. Your marriage is not meant to be shared with your children. It is meant to provide the love, security, training, and role models they need.
You should NEVER criticize or condemn your husband, anyway; but especially do not do it in front of your children. They should no nothing!
4. Do not take his actions personally
Regardless of to what degree your husband has strayed, he didn’t do it “to you”. He didn’t do it to get back at you. He did it because he was dissatisfied with his marriage and has not been getting what he needs out of it. This doesn’t mean just sex but primarily love, as we will explore more later on.
5. Do not put off doing something about this
It’s great that you are reading this article. Make sure to use that motivational energy to start taking action in a positive direction.
The longer you wait to deal with this situation, the further down the hill your marriage will slide.
6. Do not bother venting
Venting is commonly touted as a necessary outlet. “I just have to get something off my chest.” People who emotionally vent are praised for being so authentic, and the more hysterical they are, the more they are praised.
But it is a complete myth that venting is necessary or even beneficial.
Venting is harmful to both the person venting and those forced to listen to the negative emotional energy, even if it’s not directed at them. When you hear yourself vent, your subconscious mind takes it all back in and gives it false substance. It validates and strengthens all of your frustrations, anger, and condemnations.
All venting does is create more obstacles you will have to contend with later.
You do not have to get anything off of your chest by dumping it on another person.
Don’t vent to your spouse, as there is nothing good or loving you will say while allowing yourself to verbalize unchecked emotion (see rule #1).
Don’t vent to your girlfriends, sisters, children, nor anyone else (see rules #2 and #3).
When you are upset, the first thing you need to do is to gain control over your emotions so that you don’t do anything that will further damage your marriage.
What you can and should do is excuse yourself and go calm down by yourself. Splash some water on your face in the bathroom, take a bath, go to the gym, take a walk in the park, or meditate.
Come back later and address any situation that needs attention, but do it from a calm, centered place where you can express love and wisdom.
The purpose of avoiding these actions is to prevent you from making things even worse. If you choose poorly, there is no bottom to how far your marriage can slide. But if you start taking the right steps, your anger will be controlled, and not by just managing or hiding outbursts. You will be able to forgive him and you can be very happy again.
Where Will You Go From Here?
Very few men are “wired” to cheat so your husband is probably not in that category, but even some really good men do succumb to temptations. It is a poor choice, for sure, but should not cause you to also make a poor choice.
You have a choice right now that is very serious. You need to decide how you are going to perceive this situation, which will determine what comes next. You may have defaulted to one choice before you read this article, but now you can shift your mind and change your perspective to a more positive choice. Here are your options. You can either:
- Judge and condemn your husband, which will move your marriage toward its end.
- Seek understanding and a fresh start, which will begin the shift toward a great marriage.
At this point some wives have said to me, “I understand all that, but…”
Be careful you don’t make this same mistake. That “but” means they are judging, and choosing to not allow any understanding-driven compassion and forgiveness into their heart. Their egos want contrition, at a minimum, and sometimes nothing less than “justice”. Usually, those who talk to all of their girlfriends are lead to this self-destructive place, another reason to not do it.
We’ve also heard on occasion, “He cheated on me, so I cheated on him!” Not often though, thank God.
Obviously these women were not interested in rebuilding their marriage at all and it is unfortunate for their children.
There is no middle ground. You must choose one direction or the other. If you ever want a fulfilling marriage, with love as its core and joy as the goal, you need to make some big shifts in your thinking and changes in your behavior.
Does this mean his cheating is all your fault and now you’re the one who needs to change? No, of course not.
This bears repeating. Even though you may have no blame whatsoever, you DO have the ability to resuscitate your marriage all by yourself. I know, it seems “unfair” at a minimum, but it is not unfair when you consider how much you will benefit. And I’m not just talking about avoiding the whole single mom thing. I’m talking about how amazing your marriage will be when you go down the right path.
If you’re going to make this work, you have to go all in. Having a “what about me” mentality destroys more marriages than cheating does. You can’t allow your mind to judge him and seek understanding, love, and forgiveness at the same time.
Can you forgive him? Of course, you can. This doesn’t mean that you will ignore or accept the grotesqueness of his offense. It means opening your heart.
You will see changes in yourself that others feel. You will be like Mary Poppins. Birds will land on your shoulders, squirrels will come up to you and children will want you to smile at them. I’m not kidding. You should see some of our emails of gratitude. Doing what is ‘right’ is always worth it!
Why Do Men Use Dating Sites Or Cheat, Anyway?
It is not your fault that your husband broke a moral code. That is not suggested or implied. Yet, no one should be surprised by the reactions people have to their environment.
The following are common reactions men who have strayed have had to bad marriages. Usually, these are caused by neither partner acting in the best interest of the marriage. You can use these as a way of gaining insight into your own situation. All of these are fixable.
There can be many causes for boredom, but usually, it is due to a lack of positive interactions. The causes are always due to the couple not knowing how to nurture their marriage. They have sex, but it can’t really be called making love. They don’t cultivate intimacy in and out of the bedroom. They don’t connect at the heart. The love that was there initially has gone into hiding rather than being expanded daily.
Marriage is complicated but looks simple. So most couples just “get married” and think they have no more work to do. They don’t really know “how” to treat each other for the best results. So their marriage and relationship lose its zing.
As a wife, you have a great power to nurture the intimacy and love in your relationship that your husband does not have. Read the article linked above for more.
Neither spouse’s expectations are met in a stagnant or declining marriage. When it becomes too burdensome, anyone will seek escape. There are better and worse ways to escape, but it is far better to heal the marriage, and not have to consider escaping, because you love being together.
It is also quite common that wives often complain, criticize, or condemn their husbands. They think they are just casually reminding their husband of something and it’s no big deal. But he may perceive it as constantly nagging at best, or a constant barrage of attacks at worst. Feeling the need to escape this type of environment is just as common.
He could be escaping from any negativity in your marriage, from emotional venting to constant arguing and fighting, to family drama. Try looking at your family life and your behavior from his perspective and you’ll likely see what he might find unsavory.
In the cases of boredom or escape, both partners are often willing to work on improving the marriage as they both still see the potential. But by the time anger causes a man to stray, he is no longer amenable to being a part of the solution.
If constant nagging, arguing or fighting have persisted, he might look elsewhere out of anger or resentment. This reaction is all too normal and usually means the wife will have to save the marriage on her own. It is certainly possible as the linked article outlines for you.
Can your marriage survive? Absolutely! But the effort will have to be completely yours at first, and maybe for a long while.
Will he stop cheating? Absolutely! But it takes longer for him to jump in and start making effort as well. Once the wife starts making positive changes, usually he will remain passive, waiting to see if the changes are real and sincere.
4. Exit strategy
In this case, the husband is on his way out. He has given up on his wife and marriage. He feels betrayed, abused, and hopeless. Usually, it is because his wife has chosen to not listen to his frustrations or hopes.
The chances for a successful recovery at this point are completely based on the wife’s determination. It is not uncommon for a wife to contact us too late to stop his momentum. Maybe he has already left home and his family.
However, we have seen determined wives win their husbands back, even after moving in with younger women. If the wife makes up her mind and sticks to our program, the results will be positive, and he will come home 90% of the time.
What You Should Do Starting Right Now
- Become more marriage-friendly. In every way, shape, and form. Completely stop any and all criticism, complaining, and expectations. There is no benefit from expressing anger. There is always a benefit from behaving in ways that express love; even if you do not feel it at the moment. What would you tell your kids to do?
- Be more loving. In ways he wants you to be loving. Don’t ask him what he wants, though. He won’t believe that you want to do better; he may have given up on you and the marriage, already. He can never articulate what he truly needs anyway because of his biological and cultural preoccupation with sex. But this point is not about you becoming more sexual, anyway. Be loving, and show it in ways that are not sexual. Though sex is important, becoming too sexual all of a sudden can easily backfire at this point.
- Pay attention to his needs for heart-based intimacy. Clearly, if he were deeply satisfied, he would not be looking online in most cases. If you are persistently pleasantly and loving you’ll see what he wants and needs. Intimacy is not sex. But sex can be intimate. Again, don’t let your reactiveness cloud your judgment and patience. If you are currently having sex, then you need to make it much more heart-based than you currently are. Focus more on connecting at your heart, rather than your “performance”. If you do not know what I mean by this, you really need to read one of my books, at least.
- Learn to control your mind and negative emotional reactions. This is not optional. If you react negatively to everything he says, you will undermine all of your positive efforts. You must get a handle on your emotional reactions. Do not let any slip out. Don’t say anything mean. Don’t complain, criticize, or condemn. No matter if he is a jerk or not.
This last point may sound impossible, especially if you’ve gone your entire life without learning how to control your emotions. But it’s very likely you’ve already restrained yourself at certain points.
For instance, when you first started driving, if someone cut you off on the road you might have chased them down, pulled them over, and dragged them out of their car, or felt like you wanted too. But as you got older, you decided, “you know, it’s just not worth getting upset over that.” This is what you must do every day in your marriage. Negative reactions act as a stopper for your heart, which also closes off any hope of happiness. If you eliminate the reactions, you’ll allow your love to continually flow, and giving your love without the condition of his behavior, giving true unconditional love, will make you happy.
To remove the negative emotions you must start to change the habits that run your life. They are what cause you to react before you can stop yourself. By changing your habits over time, you’ll eliminate your bad habits of critical behavior and negative emotional reactions, and instill new good habits of responding to his bad behavior with understanding, wisdom, love, and compassion.
Changing your habits and gaining control over your emotions can be very difficult, but it’s a task you must take very seriously. It’s so important that I designed my Complete Marriage System to begin by providing this instruction. In fact, you can get this part of my course by signing up for our free, 3-day free trial.
Our course is not only the easiest way to learn and stay motivated but also it’s the best way to make your marriage better than it ever has been, even if it’s very rocky right now. No matter how you learn, it must be done. Your marriage will not be able to improve to until one of you learns to manage your emotions and eliminate your negative reactions. And since you are reading this article, you are likely the one most interested and willing to give it a shot. Go for it!
Feel free to write to our counselors if you would like to ask a question about your marriage. Our specially trained counselors can explain whatever you need. It is what we are here for.