What am I Willing to Tolerate and For How Long?

Unhappy couple having an argument in the kitchen at home

This question emerges when one is in the process of deciding whether to stay or go.

Or, is uncertain about the reconciliation or healing process.

Dr. Huizenga gives a 4 step process in defining what it is you are tolerating and how to rid your self and relationship of those tolerations.

This entry was posted in Dr. Huizenga's Blog Posts, Emotional Distance, Emotional Infidelity, Infidelity Coaching, Infidelity Marriage, Infidelity Pain, Surviving Infidelity, Surviving Infidelity Videos and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to What am I Willing to Tolerate and For How Long?

  1. Robert says:

    To me, your tolerance video is a game changer for your credibility. I have always admired that you come from a position of trying to save a marriage. If one is to err, saving marriage is better than giving up too soon. Looking inward is better than blame to get to higher power and ground.

    However, I stopped reading your articles a while ago because I felt your position was way more about self blame and patience more than stronger boundaries and asking for accountability of the one cheating. I felt as though you gave far more empathy to the cheater than the one cheated on.

    Yes, you occasionally referenced looking for where tolerance was too much. But, would slip into way more empathy for the cheater. A 50-50 approach is probably about right. I appreciate your shift. I think it allows those of us who were cheated on to trust our selves better – even though we also must reflect on our contribution to infidelity.

    • Faithful says:

      I appreciate your comments and hope that you are finding yourself in a good place after your pain. I have to take issue on the last comment.
      The betrayed spouse has NO contribution to the infidelity.
      That statement alone adds burden of blame to the hurt spouse.
      Understanding that there may have been issues within a marriage is one thing. Believing that the hurt spouse had ANY contribution of the infidelity is something else and it is wrong unless you forced them to do it.
      God Bless and prayers for your continued healing and growth.

      • Margita heggie says:

        Dear faithful
        I believe that you may be missing a very crucial point in saying that the cheated on spouse should NOT accept ANY blame in creating a situation that has found them cheated on …. very likely a pattern that has plagued them. How is that explained?
        I have a very difficult time believing that the cheating spouse is the ONLY contributor to the circumstances that created this hot bed mess!
        Why was the cheating spouse so unhappy as to look elsewhere for even emotional support? Physical intimacy? Escape?
        The only reason I ask those questions is because we all KNOW it takes two to tango!

        I am not the cheating spouse in my situation however I do accept that my actions had cause my cheating spouse to feel isolated from emotional support and it was very stormy in our home very often and for his free spirit it cause a lot of distress and neediness and he went elsewhere for what I SHOULD have been providing

        He does not use ANY of my accountability as excuses he accepts his own actions faulty and flawed for stepping out on me, partially for creating a home situation that upset me so much and not communicating with me his anxieties to deepening the issues and running from them out of fear of rocking the boat more and finally for the infidelity in whole as his own.

        I definitely had my part to play, in our situation, that assisted in creating the infidelity.

        Sincerely yours
        Prayers and love

        • Franco Aquino Oropesa says:

          to margita heggie,
          you are totally wrong on this one. the cheated spouse has no fault in the cheating spouse infidelity.
          Yes the cheated spouse may have some short comings in the relation but it has nothing to do with the infidelity of the cheating spouse.
          the cheating spouse could have done a lot of things to improve his/her unsatisfaction in the relationship. He/she could have talked with the cheated spouse to resolve their problems, go to counseling alone or together, worst case is to leave the relationship and file divorce. he/she could have done a thousand other thing, but instead he/she decided on his/her own to cheat on his/her spouse. he/she alone made that decision, so he/she alone should be responsible for the infidelity.
          for example, prior to my wife cheating, we were both unhappy in our relationship, i was not meeting all her needs, she was also not meeting all of my needs. i tried to talk and reason with her. she on the other hand, decided to cheat. so i don’t think i should carry some of the blame for her own decision.
          best regards

        • Survivor says:

          Whatever you think you did that caused him to cheat is not, repeat, not your fault. He did what he did because he was selfish period

        • Hurt In Madison says:

          My husband emotionally cheated on me. He says that the lack of communication between us was the cause/reason/excuse. I am more than willing to accept that our marriage wasn’t wonderful, but I didn’t feel we were in such a horrible place. I was aware that there was room for improvement. However, if he felt things were that bad, it was HIS responsibility to communicate that to me.

          I take NO responsibility for his emotional cheating! NONE! As I told him, we were in the same marriage. I had many opportunities to cheat emotionally as well. But when I felt that tug towards a male friend, I put more distance between my friend and myself, not myself and my husband, which is what the cheating spouse does.

          I shared with my husband my thought processes in how I arrived at the decision to NOT have an emotional affair. I asked him what it was that he told himself to justify his affair of the heart and he said he couldn’t. He kept going back to, “We weren’t getting along. I didn’t want to come home . . .”. Great! I still need to know what SELF talk he engaged in that allowed him to cheat.

          Some EIGHT YEARS beyond the affairs (because their were multiple women – 5 to be exact) he has not self examined to answer that single, very important question for me. How can I feel secure that he won’t re-offend if he can’t answer the question of how he gave himself permission. So, here we are, years later, and we no longer discuss the affairs, but they have permanently damaged our marriage, not because he had the affairs but because he can’t be honest with himself or me about why they happened.

          So, yes! Marriages hit rocky patches and sometimes those rocky patches occur over years. But if you check out of your marriage physically or emotionally, that is squarely on the cheater and and ONLY on the cheater. I will not allow anyone to blame me for his weakness.

        • GORDON says:

          You are right and wrong. There are two types of cheaters, Those on the one hand that are and those on the other hand who are married to abusers and avoidants and emotionally neglectful people who deprive the other of any connection and are more or less forced to cheat because they receive no emotional support. (Not to justify their actions, just their motive.) don’t lump them in the same category. Just as there are thieves and there are those forced to steal food to live.

    • Hurting Spouse says:

      I agree with Faithful!! Unless you are also cheating, how do you contribute to their infidelity?? A cheater chooses to cheat, the hurt spouse had nothing to do with that. If the cheater felt there were issues in the marriage, they should have brought it up, and both spouses could have worked on it. The cheater has more of a problem than the marriage EVER did, and the cheater needs help to fix themselves, going into a different relationship isn’t going to fix them or the problems they thought they saw. In the end they’ll continue to cheat because the problems they had will always be there until they face them.

      • Survivor says:

        To hurting spouse.. I say Amen. Well said and to the point. Thank you.

        • Mik says:

          I agree totally … my husband left the relationship emotionally with no explanations or reasons and if there was a problem he did not communicate them to me so could I help. I am willing to take my responsibility but couldn’t if I did not know. Instead I was blindsided by his emotional cheating.

  2. Melissa says:

    Instead of jockeying over who is hurt “most”, Use this opportunity for a huge grown experience. When you end up eventually seeing the bigger picture, you see that BOTH people make the marriage what it is. Labeling yourself a hapless victim is what kills your spirit, not what someone else thinks of you, or who isn’t doing what you want them to. You can become a bigger person.

    • Andrew says:

      Yes, there is definatly a bigger picture in the end. If two people are having a war between each other, that still holds each other accountable for what has happend. However, infidelity is a nucular bomb NO body deserves that and destroys any relationship totally. But even then, yes there is still a bigger picture. No muling over who’s to blame, it is plane just wrong.

    • Hurt In Madison says:

      Melissa, I am a victim in that my husband’s actions harmed/injured me. We have become a society in which victims are objects of disdain or contempt. As a victim, something is DONE TO YOU against your will and without your consent. If I were physically abused, that would make me a victim. Would you look at me and say that my husband’s beating of me was wrong, but I had a part to play in the fact that he beat me?

      If your answer to this is yes, well then I guess my conversation with is done. The victimizer is to blame for their actions, NOT the victim . . . in any degree.

  3. Tu says:

    There is a huge difference in a marriage that is dry, boring compared to one which is abusive or dysfunctional.
    Did anyone here consider the fact that we all bring baggage, however, the person who cheats oftentimes never gave their spouse a clue that they had brokenness in their past. So, these people gather false evidence and use every small infraction as proof that their mate doesn’t love them.
    They don’t love themselves, so how can they feel lovable much less believe they are worthy of a good person?
    So, they cheat. They cheat and blame the unsuspecting spouse who may have been one of the few people in their lives that saw good in them!
    The cheater is a wounded child striking out at imaginary hurts and slights that others barely notice or recall.
    This person will continue the self destructive pattern until the destroy everyone who even tries to love them.
    They are the perpetrators, but see themselves as the victims of their spouse and the world. Run. Away. They rarely want help because they will have to face the pain of their childhood trauma and on top of that, the pain they’ve caused Innocent people.
    Marriage is a wonderful institution from God and I’ll always believe that. It’s selfish people who aren’t willing to do Their share. They will allow their mate to work themselves into a frenzy and their children fall by the wayside to protect whom they love most –Their Wounded Child.
    Marriage isn’t valued by God over the sanity of the individual. God has a plan that the marriage could fulfill for each person, but when it is destructive and dysfunctional and one person is suffering needlessly for the sake of marriage–then it’s a mockery.
    Some partners refuse therapy or attend therapy to hold their partners in place. That’s cruelty at its highest level.
    I believe in separating to see if change will come, and if that person isn’t willing to do their part to have a real marriage–then divorce is the only option left.
    Staying and making the children suffer in a quiet, angry house or a loud, explosive house isn’t doing them any good.
    They stop believing in God and marriage and love. That’s a tragedy.
    If you’re not going to try, why stay together and lie? The kids aren’t impressed and neither is God. We Are to be truthful in All Things.

    • Andrew says:

      So very very very true! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    • Lisa says:

      Oh my goodness, you’ve literally said everything I feel with my H. We never had blowout fights or really bad situations.. his problem is that I didn’t show love and affection as much as I should’ve. Now he’s using anything bad I’ve ever said in the relationship as an excuse as to why he was unhappy even though some things were way in the past and he never let me know at the time. He’s not only pushing me away but people in his life that don’t agree with what he’s doing. I don’t think anyone is necessarily pushing him to be with me, but I know they are asking to think twice about how he’s doing things. And when he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say, he ignores them. He says he has no one to truly confide in but I think it’s just because he doesn’t want to hear the truth from those he would talk to. We are separated now even though the OW is in the picture, I still feel this is the best way to go since he can’t yet give her up. It’s just so heartbreaking because I feel we did make a promise under God and now he just ignores that fact.

    • Simon says:

      I’m not a religious person; however “Tu” you’ve said it beautifully! My wife fits this description herself and really all her siblings too. They’re all still wounded children from an abusive upbringing but that does not give them the excuse to destroy other lives especially those of their children. 3 out of 4 have had affairs. 1 already divorced and mine might well be next. I’ve managed to get my wife to go to an EMDR couples therapy session tomorrow so let’s see if that will kick-start the healing and acceptance to change.

    • Sill Hurting says:

      Yes, Tu. Exactly. Thank you so much.

    • Tired says:

      Well said Tu! That’s exactly my husband – a wounded child lashing out, getting his feelings hurt over imagined slights, pushing away the people that loved him most. It is sad.

    • Rosalie Roy says:

      Thank you Tu. Describes my husband & really his family. All use their childhood, upbringing as an excuse to close off, relinquish responsibility for causing hurt. I’ve been there w/ my husband through his child custody, his family issues, death of my father-in-law, his career, the loss of mine, & I was even there when I learned of his 2 emotional affairs. His working out of state & country, leaving me with our kids to live in his infidelity, unresponsiveness, lies. 18 months & I’ve learned, after moving to another state, away from his family, he will never take responsibility & make hard changes in the way he sees me, our kids.

  4. Carol says:

    Cheating is always 100% the fault of the cheater. The only silver lining is the lessons we are taught and the emotional growth it can foster if we let it. I know; I’ve been on both sides- as a betrayed spouse and a cheater. When l learned of my husband’s 9 month affair, my self esteem was destroyed. In that state of mind, I slept with a man at a conference who flattered me. When I tearfully confessed to my husband, his only response was “Gee. Wow. Hey, do you think you could arrange a threesome sometime?” Talk about bringing baggage into the marriage. Long story short, we were both dysfunctional for the next 20 years (altho the 3some never happened, thankfully). Finally, another of my husband’s betrayals exploded so forcefully we both had to completely peel the 35 year marriage onion or call it quits. 8 years of authentic relating, painful confessions, boundary setting, and therapies later, we finally have the type of marriage we should have had all along. Yes, usually both partners bring baggage into the marriage. Infidelity is never the solution, but it can be a wake up call. Don’t spend too much time assigning blame. And don’t let it take as long as we took to finally wake up and appreciate the sacredness of marriage!

  5. Rebecca Czarnek says:

    How and what is a good way to talk to your boyfriend about if he is still communicating with the other woman and how to get him to either stop or leave my house ?

  6. Perky says:

    Tu, you are on point. My husband actually said that he had taken anything I said of an unflattering nature and made it mountainous in order to justify having an affair. He didn’t have the affair because he wasn’t smart, if you will. He tried to start it right in front of me!! Even though it didn’t happen, we have been having many problems and are currently in counseling. While I believe I have done some things incorrectly in our relationship, I’m absolutely 100% innocent in his decision to have an affair. I was not asked asked nor did I consent to any of it. If he had asked snd I gave my blessing, game changer. I expected monogamy, was in the same marriage and yet HE wanted to cheat. To all cheaters out there…be honest and ethical. Either talk it out, get counseling, or get a divorce BEFORE beginning another relationship. Don’t hurt the person you loved and maybe had children with, it’s SO not worth it!

  7. Weaver2018 says:

    I completely understand both sides of the fence argument. 7 years into my marriage I was seduced by a woman. I did not fall for it but the seduction was flattering and I wanted to cross that boundary. But I was married, not happily either, but deep in my heart I realized this was not a positive. So I went home, I took my wife out to a wonderful dinner and a 4 star hotel. I sat her down and explained my almost weakness and begged her forgiveness even though I had never kissed touched or actually engaged in any emotional or physical affair I still was almost weak and had to get the one i wanted back to understanding that I had chosen her.
    Fast forward to the 24yr mark, Times had been tough on us, we had went through two bankruptcies and multiple big job losses. I got a new job and she had gotten one closer to home as well That was August 2017. My stress level dropped and I even started loosing weight. I started doing things around the house when I got home to make it so she did not have to stress and struggle when she got home. She seemed happier and I thought life was getting better. Over Christmas, she was super mean to me at her parents. My son and I chalked it up to her being around her family as every year it was like she put on a show when we took her to Michigan to be with her family.
    On the return home I noticed that she took longer in the bathroom and seemed happy when she came out but almost immediately she would get a scowl on her face when she saw me or my son. First weekend home she was gone “Shopping” the whole weekend with her girlfriends. That week my parents asked me about an address and if it was my friends place. I said no as my friend lived on the other side of the county. So that Saturday she kissed me goodbye as though she was going to shop for groceries and go see one of her girl friends. I immediately took off the trash and headed to Hardees to get my son and I some breakfast. Thats when I saw her car at the address my parents mentioned as it was on the way to hardees. When I called her she lied and said she was in another township even heading to a friends. When I confronted her she admitted she had been cheating. Other than that she has never gave an explanation. She traded me in for a lesser man, an ex convict and a punk in my opinion. Since the Separation papers I have not given her the time of day. I have erased her from my memory and I will never trust or ever bring her back in my home. She sent an apology letter recently but there was no salutation or even her signing it. So there is no remorse there and for me I have read so much and worked so hard to find myself that the one thing I can say to anyone that is the wounded spouse period. No matter what you did up to the point they made a decision to cheat once they make that decision nothing you ever did is relevant to them cheating. Them taking the initiative to cheat exposes their weakness, their lack of respect and their lack of love for you as a human being. The moment they violate that marital trust they are no longer the individual that you loved, married or what ever that momentary lapse of reason completely changes them into someone you can never trust or rely on ever again. So when she tries to communicate with me all she gets is crickets. I do not reply to her I do not give her the time of day. Her financial issues, her emotional issues with her convict, her issues with our son are of no relevance to me any longer. I have my own life to live and move forward and sometimes you just have to emotionally ghost a person to move forward in life.

  8. Jill Cohn says:

    I need to share a different perspective…I am a wounded wife…my husband had a three year relationship with another woman. During the first year of the affair…I was away from home frequently…visiting an old friend from college who moved two hours,away. My energy and thoughts were about spwnd8ng time with my friend and her loving family. She was also 8ntroducing me to her Catholic faith so I was going on Catholic retreats while I was away. Meanwhile, my time away triggered childhood wounds in my husband of abandonment and rejection. So here is the OW available to listen to his pain and show compassion since I wasn’t available. During the times I was home my husband was angry, and emotionally abusive…I discovered the affair about 15 months afterf it started by finding texts with herr name on it. My husband said he wanted me and to work on our marriage. He sentt her an email to end it. I believed it was over because our relationship changed. I no longer we by away, we made our marriage a priority by going on weekly dates, being intimate frequently and making our communication safe and encouraging. I was devastated when I discovered the OW in my home 6 months later. My husband said he ended it…I reached out to the OW to find the truth and to let her know the truth tthat we were working on our marriage and getting closer. I once,again thought it was over. My husband and I continued to grow closer.about one year later I discovered messages being exchanged. I actually asked to meet with the OW who told me t hey hadx continued to see each other but it finally ended two months before. She was surprised she got the most recent messages. She told me she was miserable the last few months of t be relationship. He hold her thatg he wanted to be with me not her…anyway once their relationship really eended…my husband was so remorseful..he started becoming transparent, loving and started couples counseling. Our relationship has been transformed..it’s beautiful now.I don’t know if this would have happened if I didn’t work on the marriage too…so all resentment and bitterness is gone…and instead I helped create a safe loving marriage where faith and Jesus is now in the center….God uses a’ll things for good….I

  9. weddingbelle says:

    No way does the betrayed contribute one iota to a spouse wanting to cheat. There are 3 sides – the cheater, the betrayed, and the marriage. The marriage may have been flawed, in my case, but my husband does admit that instead of speaking with me about his unhappiness, he chose to make mountains out of molehills, in his words. He simply didn’t know how to talk about it. I had absolutely no agency in him wanting to cheat. I found out before it happened because I felt something was “off”. Trust your instincts. Work on you, let him or her work on themselves, and work on the marriage together. It’s beginning to work for us. Even if it doesn’t, I’ll be fine because I have the tools to cope. Charging neutral works!

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