21 Life Lessons from an Infidelity Survivor

Pensive Man Having A Headache Sitting On The Bed

I have an amazing Infidelity Support Group on Facebook, in which members join to both heal themselves and help others heal. It’s truly a remarkable group of people.

From time to time I stumble upon a post that really resonates with me. This happened the other day, so I asked my group member for permission to share his post as a public blog. As a huge contributor to the group, he has agreed to allow me to share his invaluable advice. I believe visitors to my blog who are dealing with the pain of infidelity will really benefit from his words of wisdom.

Following is his insightful post:

“My wife has had numerous affairs since 2009. It has been absolute hell for myself and my kids. Our marriage won’t survive all of this.

Here is what I have learned since that time. I wish I could have learned it sooner, but that isn’t how life works:

1. You can’t make someone love you.

2. You can’t force someone to do the right thing.

3. All the ‘hoping’ in the world won’t change another person.

4. At some point ‘hoping’ will keep you stuck. You must take action.

5. People will treat you the way you allow them to.

6. It is normal to fall in and out of love with your spouse.

7. A good marriage requires you to stay connected to your spouse.

8. People change over time and so do our hopes and dreams. We need to embrace that rather than fear it.

9. Secrets kill a relationship.

10. Foster an environment where you can share without fear of judgement.

11. You can never trust someone 100%.

12. Don’t rely on someone to ‘fill you up’ that is your job.

13. Love is a risk worth taking.

14. Forgiveness is for you. You will forgive when you’re ready and it can take a long time to happen.

15. Sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to. It does us no good to remain in a relationship that is unhealthy and dead.

16. Divorce doesn’t mean you’re a bad Christian or have failed.

17. We will attract those who are on our level of emotional health. Keep in mind we attract certain folks for a reason. If you don’t like the people you end up with you need to work on YOU.

18. We all have a role in the breakdown of any relationship.

19. Infidelity hurts like hell but if you’re open to learning from it you’ll come out a stronger, wiser person.

20. It’s easy to remain a victim but it takes strength to take responsibility for how your life will be. Don’t give that power to another person.

21. Our spouses will fail us at some point but God is faithful always.”

I urge you to read these words with an open mind, as they are straight from the mouth of someone who has lived through and survived the nightmare of infidelity.
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20 Responses to 21 Life Lessons from an Infidelity Survivor

  1. Mia Boyd says:

    Thanks for the information. I recently found out that my husband has been cheating on me. It’s been really hard to try and get over the feelings of pain that I have. I’m going to follow the tips given by the survivor you’ve mentioned. I also think I’ll search for professional help.

  2. Shirley says:

    I know I’m not perfect. But I do not take any responsibility for my husband of 46 yrs affair. He changed soon after we married being selfish and self centered. I was 29 and he was only person I ever loved and I saved myself fot man I loved and would marry. It was as though he had me and he didn’t have to give me respect, emotional love and support etc. I kept busy working and raising our two daughters. There were many times I tried to tel him he needed to respect me , take time for us. I got us to three counselor a t 7,16,22 years of marriage. Would be better awhile then he was his selfish self centered self. I suffered verbal and physical abuse. He is functioning. Alcoholic who was a professionl and admired and charmed by many. I learned of his affair and chose not to devastate our daughters at that time as they were in high school and it would have crushed their world. He continued, even after he claims to have ended it ,to abuse me by cutting hurtful remarks in front of friends and family.
    No it’s not always that both parties are responsible for the infidelity. Sometimes you are married to someone who is selfish self centered and has narcissist traits. My only fault is I allowed him to mistreat me but it wasn’t all in vain. I raised two beautiful loving educated girls. That he can’t take from me

    • Robert says:

      Sometimes it takes a long time to see your role in things. It took me 35 years to see my role. I confronted but was unwilling to take action when I realized my wife was gas lighting me, turning things around to save face for her. My upbringing was steeped in guilt and shame and I was gas lighted by my dad and, indirectly, my mom, who failed to protect me from my dad’s violence on me or protect herself from his violence toward her and the infidelity that both my parents modeled.

      Only when you can clearly see your role will you see that you are playing victim. But, you can’t see it yet, so in a sense you are innocent…. you are a victim to your lack of self acceptance and awareness. Be patient / answers will come that create a better life concept …. if you really want that. We are all blind to deep hurts – you’re part of the human race.

      • Shirley says:

        I am sorry I dont understand “see my role”. Do you mean I didnt take action? I didnt. I suppressed it as it hurt too much (so psychologists say). He had affair 10-15 years while I worked full time, took care of everything which only gave him more time to fantasize about her.
        Was that my role? I dont want to be victim. I didnt know or my mind wouldnt let me think he was having affair! Now so much to deal with and heal from.

        • Sarah says:

          Shirley, I agree with you. I was not responsible for a grown man’s decision to have a 3 year affair but I was responsible for letting him emotionally abuse me. I built up the tolerance allowing him to treat me so poorly. My growth has been boundaries in all of my relationships. It’s interesting to see who is still in my life.

          • Sill Hurting says:

            Yes! The BS role is often a lack of self-care and established boundaries. The role isn’t necessarily that we weren’t committed or didn’t love our mates enough. If someone is cheating, that is about them. We can’t fill someone up enough to keep them from cheating. My role was giving up too much of myself to try to fill him up. That left me empty, and him looking for someone who wasn’t empty to fill him up somewhere else. I have to learn to draw and enforce boundaries, and he has to learn to fill himself up.

          • Wife Cheated on Me says:

            I’m sorry you’re going through this. My wife had a three year affair and it seems like I don’t know her at all sometimes.

            I’m trying to work through it because she says he meant nothing, the handful of times they had sex it was really based, he was a terrible kisser, etc. These things do not make me feel any better and raise more questions.

            It’s good there are support groups for infidelity cause I can’t do this on my own.

        • Shelley says:

          Your story is so much like mine. Our role is our codependent behavior. They are 100% responsible for their affair but we are 100% responsible for valuing the relationship more than we valued ourselves. When we do that, it sets the scene for others to take advantage of us. We use the kids as an excuse to stay…we use hope and forgiveness as excuses to stay…we use our faith as an excuse to stay. All to cover up the fact that we feel we cannot live without our spouses. I too have raised 3 independent responsible children but they all have deep hurts and issues because of their dad’s and my disfunctional relationship. If you think that your girls left your home unscathed I believe you will be sorely disappointed. Keeping your husband’s secret does not mitigate his poor, misogynistic treatment of their mother. They will most likely marry men with the same behavior patterns. This is our legacy. We allowed our husbands to treat us as “less than.” That eventually lead to them thinking they could get away with an affair. We became compliant but also controlling as we felt compelled to make the decisions because our spouses were too immature to keep us and our children safe. We expected our addicted husbands to act like normal, loving men. You cannot expect a wolf to act like a Pomeranian just because you treat it with love and respect. That doesn’t change its nature. We are responsible for who we chose. We aren’t responsible for the affair but we are responsible for our sorry choices in our marriage partner and our choice to endure their sexism and disrespect and abuse. So that is the part we’ve played and that is the only part we can change. We cannot change our spouses.

    • Sammie says:

      Thank you , thank you. I feel the same way. It is NOT always both parties fault. I met my husband of 37 years when I was 13. He has always been a flirty, friendly person. It hurt me over the years but every time I said something I was at fault because I wanted to smother him . Flash forward to last May when I found out he was using drugs, having an affair with a 28 year old who has 3 kids ( he’s 58) and had spent almost $70,000 on his and her habit. He said he did it because the way I talked to him? Really? Ok than go to hell with her and I will live with our young son. For almost 13 years he stayed home and I worked my butt off to support us and save for our retirement. If any of this is my fault I want to know how? I trusted that man with my life and got repaid by this

  3. Blanca Leigh says:

    Number 12 the best piece of advise – I made this mistake. I let my husband be my everything and fell to pieces when I found out he was cheating on me with a younger woman, who was vulgar and my physical and psychological polar opposite…
    After a few months of sobbing I decided to let out my inner demon and envisage where his affair could have taken us had I not acted with decorum and rationality and wrote my first ever novel called Bloody Jude based on “an affair gone wrong”. This novel was cathartic and helped me through the tough times. More importantly it helped me find myself.
    My novel is a deterrent to anyone considering an affair and a fantasy for those of us in the depth of one – what if we just got our own back?

    His affair liberated me and helped me find my inner voice. Tragic as it may sound. It also gave me an income stream on Amazon!!!! My bloody cheating husband gave me Bloody Jude! Never lose yourself!

    • MollyMagee says:

      Did you end up getting divorced? I’d like to write a book or play too but can’t see doing that while still married – making it public. I have thought of sending all the poems and missives I’ve wrote in binder to her on 2 year anniversary of Dday; I know I’m married to him and he cheated on me but OW’s life hasn’t changed at all. She’s still respected by colleagues, her kid, etc. (Maybe) Our life, our marriage, our kids lives, our extended families lives have all changed from this and been upended. What a mess. Working on #12. The best resource has been Al Anon. Thanks for answering my question. Best, MM

      • Dawna says:

        The fact that she is going on living her life as if nothing happened is a hard pill to swallow. The other woman is also married and I assume he is obivious to what went on for at least 8 1/2 to 9 years. I had a few suspensions, but never had real proof (or maybe choose to ignore it) until this past September. I am in so much pain, and she gets to go on with her life as if nothing happened! My husband and I are trying to work things out, so I have chooses not to share what has happened except with 2 of my friends. I don’t want the look of sympathy, idiocracy for myself and I don’t want friends and family holding it over his head if things do in fact work out in our favor. So what pain does she have? Nothing. Other than loosing her partner in the crime of infidelity.

  4. Daniel says:

    We tend to accept, internalize and own every “excuse” our cheating spouse gives us for why they do what they do. I recognize so many of the statements this article makes. I just have to learn how to finally rid myself of this particular suffering, because after 3 1/2 years, my health(both physical and mental) is taking a beating..🙁

  5. Louise says:

    I think these 21 comments are good for any marriage whether or not infidelity is involved. Yes, I was able to find me and gained the strength to move on from a very narcissistic man. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  6. Jared says:

    It has been over two years since finding out my wife cheated on me with a younger co-worker, who was getting married himself. It ended after a few months and I didn’t find out until 3-4 months after it was “Over”. I may have had some role in her straying away from me, not helping out around the house and just being lazy, but that in no way deserved the response I received. I may have faults but it’s not justification for her cheating on me. I do not take any blame for her cheating. That was a choice she made. It still hurts. Even though after she finally admitted it and we went to counseling, it still hurts from time to time. Because her reason was simply that I was lazy and didn’t help out around the house. There were occasional arguments that got heated but I never laid a hand on her. She says that I used some ugly words, but she’s famous for making up stuff that she thinks she heard or that she said. I don’t recall any name calling. But that’s trivial. So for her to cheat on me for being nothing more than being lazy, not doing laundry, cooking or cleaning, was more hurtful than anything that i have ever experienced. Because what did she get from her affair? Nothing other than sex and someone who listened to her complaining about me. He was getting married himself. So why should I take any blame for her actions. I did nothing that justified it. In fact, I stopped being helpful for a while because she became so distant and rarely intimate with me. I could count on my hands how many times a year we had sex. It was so few and far between that I couldn’t remember how long it had been between each encounter. She blamed it on tiredness and the kids. But those aren’t excuses. We needed to work on ourselves. So I chose to be a better person and figure out a way to forgive her. Because she’s not really that type of person. So after counseling, and figuring out a way to get out of the circle of conversations we were in about it, there was a honeymoon period where we where better than we ever were, intimate a lot more than ever, but as with any new marriage, it faded. I feel alone and disconnected from her sometimes, but we both know how to claw our way back to each other. It still haunts me because what if I get lazy again. I’m doing my best to not do that, but the intimacy is fading again. I tell her and it goes back to tiredness and the kids. She tells me all I’m interested in is sex. So not the truth. I’m interested in that honeymoon period where we were so close and together, whether it was in the sex several times a week, or if we were sitting on the sofa watching TV. I know it’s not always going to be like that, but it sure seems like we could be a lot closer if we made that effort to be that way. It’s a constant struggle and hard work, but that’s what marriage is. I’ll never give up. Just keep at it everyone.

  7. Shirley says:

    When you are easy going, being responsible, giving your love and time and then.., a selfish, selfcentered, no empathy for anyone else narcissist plays it well by verbally, emotionally and physically abusing. Physical last to come when you try to take up for yourself. Never can “win” or get empathetic response only you are crazy, too sensitive. After years of it not realizing what is going on you are in such a fog you dont know you anymore. No one knows this, cant believe its real unless YOU lived it. i was an unknowing enabler and narcissist. can run with it. Then finding out you have been betrayed for 10 + years all the while being good mother, worked full time, saw after his and everybodys needs. It is painful place to be, especially when he wont own his long affair and be truthful.

  8. Bikergirl says:

    I think my lover started looking for woman last year on line. When you are easy going, being responsible, Giving him my love and time, catering to his needs, it hurts when in your heart ❤️ you know he is cheating because all the red flags are there! He has become selfish, self centered, and has no empathy for anyone else but himself and plays it well by verbally and emotionally abusing me. We are not close anymore like we used to, we don’t talk about us just work and family instead of sex except when he wants it.

    I have a role in the breakdown as well by catering to his needs 24 hours a day, and catering to his idea of its all about him and not me!

    I can’t make someone love me, I can’t force someone to do the right thing, all the hoping in the world won’t change my boyfriend!

    When a boyfriend ask you what are the signs of a boyfriend cheating , sounds like he is throwing hints he wants out!

    It does no good to remain in a relationship that is unhealthy or dead!!!

    When I mention something, he gets stressed 😩 or offended and try’s to put it back on me.

    I want to find me again and gain the strengths to move on from a very Narcissistic man!

  9. Francisco Rosales says:

    I have a question for you all. My story beggins when I fell in love with someone that cheated on her exhusband, she was devastated because she lost everything. I told her that I would help her as much as possible so she could come out of her depression and said to her that whenever she on top again I would leave. So we started travelling and working together, I paid for her trips to come work and she would keep her paycheck, I was rhere financially, emotionally and in evry aspect of life. I then found out she cheated on me with the same people, I forgave and decided to keep going, the only thing I asked was transparency. Time passed and although she said she had changed I never saw it, I kept asking for transparency and nothing after a while I became verbally abusive (which I regret) and I felt like crap and still do. She finally had the position at work that I had promised, but because she kept hidding her phone and was secretive about it I kept being abusive so I finally decided to leave. I miss her with all my heart, she has not contacted me but to i sult me saying I am evil and that my words ended the relationship. I feel guilty but where is her remorse for hurting me, where was the transparency, did she even loved me?

  10. Carol says:

    I wish everyone here could get together for a huge group hug ❤. Nine years from first D Day for me (there were many- 15 women in all besides me)- 40+ years of marriage. It’s quite a roller coaster. Still learning. I can feel all your pain! Consider yourself hugged:-)

  11. The Unfaithful says:

    This is a great list, and I see many that I have put in place but see several that I need to continue working on or start. I spent many years engaging in porn and emotional online affairs but have been clean for a few years and am working on my relationship with my spouse. I’m going to mentally tape this list to my forehead.

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