Advice about Infidelity
Berkeley Parents Network >
Family Relations >
Advice about Infidelity
Hi, I am trying to come to terms with finding out that my
husband has been seeing someone for ages...and I didn't know. I
thought he wanted me and the children to move to Canada with
him. It turns out he didn't want that at all - it was all too
convenient for him that I stayed in the States. He took a job
in Canada, and this was the second
time he had asked me to emigrate. With five children here in
the States, two at college and the younger three in school, I
decided to stay, to wait and hope that he would want to return,
that he would find another academic job here.
But it turns out that he's been
lying to me all year, and has been travelling all over the
world with this woman, while giving me absolutely no child
support for the children. I have been a SAHM, since moving to
the States. I've watched his
career go from good to stellar...and stayed home, and given my
time, energy, love, to the children. I feel used by him. He
knew my devotion to the children and went off to
conferences...and then these turned to vacations with this
woman. I feel sick. And the lies...I've asked him all year
whether there was someone else, kind of jokingly. He denied it
every time. I can't get visions of them together out of my
head. She knows that he has a wife and five children. She is a
high school teacher. I can't understand how she could know that
he is treating his family like this, no child support...and she
is trying to encourage him to divorce me, as fast as possible,
and from Canada, so that the issues of property, visitation etc
are simply not addressed.
Anger and disbelief and I just can't sleep at all. The children
found out actually - not me - and it was my fifteen year old
son who told me about the affair. He is really upset.
How can I get over this?
It's not the sex so much as the holidays abroad - he's taking
her all round the world right now, they are in New Zealand,
Turkey, Costa Rica...and he won't answer my emails about
whether he would like to see the children for Christmas. It's
as if he is dropping us like a stone. And it is very heavy.
He has actually filed for divorce without telling me!
How can I get over this? How to get through?
You need to get a lawyer. Usually I offer the advice that
couples should be in mediation, but you will need someone to
help you figure out your rights, what you can do financially,
etc., and your husband is not around for mediation. Check the
Parents' Network listings for good lawyers and start dialing.
This is going to be very hard, and I wish you the best of
luck. It will probably help to get angry rather than sink into
depression. The depression is self-directed anger, whereas it
needs to be directed at your husband right now. Good luck.
divorce is better than abuse
This is what I am reading through the lines of your message: You
guys are completely through/finished! Your husband is one of
these brilliant people, probably raised by a mom who taught him
that he always comes first and that he is super special in what
he does. This most likely results in a sense of entitlement, that
he may do as he pleases, and that his only true responsibility is
to his talent/work, which affords him all the freedom he wants.
I get along with men like that for about 5 minutes, that's all.
In order to marry one, you would have to be a special match. A
kind woman who fosters his specialness, who builds his ego and
success, who sacrifices her own career for him, who gives him
children but will take care of them all by herself, so he can
continue developing his genius - basically a woman who keeps
providing the special treatment he got from his mom/parents. He
needed a woman to serve him and you are a woman who was happy to
serve him. So far so good for a nice co-dependent relationship.
He just went on in his self-absorbed way (he didn't change a
bit), but you felt entitled/expected payback for your efforts
(love,loyalty, a good husband, a good dad). He was your
investment. I'm sorry, but nobody ever taught him these skills or
openly demanded them from the minute he entered anyone's world!
How to get over it? I don't know how long it will take you, but
here's the path: drop the victim role (deep prolonged hurt may
trigger cancer a couple of years from now), do some therapy until
you find out why you believed you need to serve men at your own
expense, later envision a man who loves you the way you want to
be loved and be open to finding him and forget about the other
woman your husband is with (she got what she deserved, just
hasn't found out yet). You owe it to yourself and your children
to find happiness. It would be so much healthier if the current
bond with your children is based on happiness rather than on your
victim role. None of this is meant harsh, I just want you to
realize that you finally need to look after yourself (not your
husband, not your kids). Start a new chapter in the story of your
life! And always remember that you are the author and that you
are also your own very best friend. And that best friend should
tell you to eat organic, eliminate refined sugar, take all
important vitamins/minerals, go for long walks to reconnect with
nature, and take herbs at bedtime that will stimulate sleep. In
order to heal your emotional state, you need to bring your
physical body in balance as well, so it can properly detox you
from the emotional poison.
I'm a bit agog... it sounds like this guy walked out the door
years ago, and has no intention of coming back; find yourself a
good divorce attorney, and secure what you need--including
custody and child support--without expecting anything any help
from him. It's probably to your great advantage that he's left
the country, as far as divorce law will go. But I'm surprised
that you're at all surprised.
A Bit Agog
I am sorry, that is just so disturbing. I do not have any
advice, but I have much empathy. I am posting because the exact
same thing just happended to my mother-in-law. The situation is
almost identical. She gave up a career in medicine to raise
their 4 children, and now all of this has unfolded and he is
gone--out of the country.
The difference (I am assuming) is that she is older than you
(about 60). I am concerned for her because she has little other
identitity than being a mother. She is also focusing on him and
her anger toawrd him, and we would like to see her think about
her life and what she would like for herself.
I am sure you are up against a very difficult battle and things
will get harder before they get easier. However, can you focus
on other things in your life that you can now do? Did this
marriage prevent you from doing things you have always wanted
to do? I know this sounds simple, but was finding out now
(instead of going on this way) a blessing in disguise?
Has anyone worked with a good attorney for divorce involving infidelity? Any
recommendations / experiences are welcome.
~Just begiinning a dreaded process.
I don't know an attorney, but I do know that the cases in which
infidelity counts for anything in no-fault divorce are rare.
That a lawyer will be able to ''go after'' an adulterous spouse is
not part of California law, except in limited cases in which a
spouse spends the family's money on a lover, the lover gives the
spouse a sexually transmitted disease which is then transmitted
to the other spouse, or something else that has a material effect
(not an emotional one) on the family. For example, a recent case
that found in the favor of an aggrieved spouse was overturned
because of the no-fault law: ''A California appellate court held
that a marital settlement agreement that provided for liquidated
damages in the case of sexual infidelity violated state public
policy.'' If you have the idea of asking a lawyer to seek damages
for emotional suffering, that's not part of the law, and you may
end up paying a lot of money for a litigious action that won't go
in favor of mediation
Here goes: A few weeks ago, while my husband's work email was
up, I saw a message from a female former co-worker of his,
regarding a lunch date they had made. He and she used to work
closely together, but I have never had any suspicions about
their friendship, because I have met her, he's spoken about her,
and because there was no reason to suspect anything (we have a
good marriage). However, as someone whose previous marriage
broke up over my ex's infidelity, I got a familiar feeling of
dread. Since then, I've been sneaking into my husband's email
and monitoring their occasional notes, which have all been to
make plans, never any lovey-dovey stuff, or any real
information. I know it's really bad that I'm reading his email,
but if you've been in my shoes, you know how desperate you
become. I know they've gotten together after work at least once
with another male friend, but my husband never mentioned that
she was out with them. I found her number on my husband's phone
under a male name, and likewise have found things on his
schedule that are with the same male name (when I can confirm
that they were with her). So I know that he doesn't want me to
know about it. Maybe because it is really no big deal and he
thinks I'll be over-sensitive due to my past? Or maybe it's
I don't want to over-react and accuse him of something, when it
might be harmless (I do want to give the benefit of the doubt).
I mean, I used to have male friends who I had lunch with who I
might not have mentioned, just because I didn't think it would
be of any consequence.
However, I also don't want to be a sucker, and I'm terrified
that there is more to this than is healthy for our marriage.
But how do I bring it up without him knowing what I was up to in
regards to invading his email/phone privacy? There have been no
other pieces of evidence of their meetings. If I come clean, he
could just change all his passwords and I'd never be able
to ''monitor'' anything?
Also, just to add to my unease, last fall a psychic told me that
this spring I would suffer a ''betrayal, or a perceived one''.
This is eating me up, and I need some constructive advice.
This is a tough one. I understand your concerns completely. You
said your husband knows about your past, and maybe this is truly
why he hasn't mentioned to you his going out with this woman--so
you won't worry, but because he seems to have gone to some length
(using an Alias) to cover it up, I would be concerned if it was
something more. My gut feeling is that you should bring it up to
him. You might try something like ''the other day I noticed while
your computer was up you had an email from so-and-so? What's she
up to?'' And see if he responds with the truth. If he doesn't, you
may have to go so far as telling him your suspicious thoughts,
and you could say something like, ''I know it's not the most
honorable thing to do, but maybe you'll understand my motivation
given my past history, but why didn't you tell me you two had
lunch?'' He may be angry at first that you invaded his privacy,
and may in fact change his password so you cannot ''monitor'' him
in the future, but if that is the case you may have bigger issues
to worry about.
The reality is that if he is not having an affair, why is he
being dishonest with you? No marriage should have this kind of
deceipt, even if the motivation is to protect you. It's always
better to be honest. You won't really rest until you talk to him
about it. It will be difficult and I feel for you. But isn't it
better to know the truth? Good luck.
I know exactly how you feel. I went through a rough period two
years ago. Once the trust is broken, it's broken (although I
haven't transfered it from one to another person).
As hard as it may seem at the moment, you have to stop snooping
around for evidence. It's instant bad karma for you, because
your body stresses as you are looking and if you find something
remotely doubtful you can't talk about it and have to hide and
internalize it. And, you probably dispise yourself for it -
feels like an addiction. Oh - and if you don't find anything,
you feel like an old fool and wonder where else to look. Our
bodies don't like this sort of thing and over time, I'm sure,
we'll have to pay a hefty price - healthwise.
It's best to start with a vision. The path unfolds. Here was
mine. In the midst of dislike and despair ... imagine for a
minute - a life so simple where you are fine with your husband
when he's there and you're fine when he isn't. When he's out
you can freely do your own favorite things and eventually he'll
show up and you can ask him about how his day/evening went and
what it was about. He'll share an anecdote or two and that is
truth for you and that's all.
If this is what you want, fake it until you make it! It
works. First you stop any sort of snooping. It's actually a
relief (you're spending less time with negative energy).
Second, for everything that officially (not snooped) triggers
insecurity, you can and must ask your husband about (you owe
that to yourself) as nice as you can (avoid harsh start-ups but
be direct)and listen wholeheartedly to his response - so you
will understand more than just his verbal response. Recall his
response when something triggers your fears when he is not
around. The memory of his voice and response can calm you down
and allow you to ''switch channels'' and move on to other things.
You can stop the whole ''trapped in a thought-circle'' process by
promising yourself that you will ask about the trigger when he
This way you will eventually eliminate many triggers, because
of what you learned. I don't think the trust problem will ever
go away completely, but it sure can be managed in a respectful
and sometimes even playful way. Also don't blame anyone for the
trust issue you developed - a blame and victim attitude leaves
you 100% stuck in the mud. Just look at it as something that
comes up, like some people get colds or pimples they need to
attend to. Here it comes into the body, here it leaves the
body. No more internal or external drama!
You see that I am not helping you ''to nail'' your husband with
infidelity. That is an entirely different issue and I think
with the above approach it would still come out sooner or
later. The main point is to build a bridge to connect with each
other, reducing the fear and the estrangement you feel from him
and most likely yourself (when you're snooping).
As far as the pychic goes - nice psychological, self-fulfilling
set up. It came true - but please interpret it that way that
most of all you betrayed yourself in your values. Now forgive
yourself (no need to confess to anyone) and let your own psyche
tell you that it sees you leaving the dark.
You are creating a painful situation for your self.
It might very well be that she is just a friend, but your
husband has to hide his meetings with her, because he knows you
will blow it out of proportion.
My sugestion is, change your behavior. dont be so suspisious. If
something had to happen , it will happen. You cant change it by
One thing you can do is, Suggest to your husband to invite some
of his friends for dinner. If he doesnt mention her, you suggest
to invite her too. Be casual.
You will get an idea if it is casual friendship or if there is
any thing sneeky going on.
Ppl are entitled to have friends, but husband wife relationship
take care.and dont worry yourself over nothing
It's hard to give fair advice because we don't know you and
while you sound ''rational'' in your email, we don't know if
because of your unfortunate past, you are now very suspicious of
your current husband and are overly jealous. I know some women
who are like this, and it makes a very supportive and
trustworthy partner more likely to conceal such non-threatening
events like having lunch with a female friend. When the woman
finds out, she then accuses her partner of lying and hiding
things, which is all partly true, but she never realizes that
it's because of her actions that her partner does this. I'm not
blaming you for being like this, if you are; it's actually quite
sad. But, it's something to consider when you are in a current
situation such as you are in now.
I think that you may have other problems, even though you say
you have a good marriage, because why would you start sneaking
into his email and things if you didn't? When you start
suspecting that your partner is cheating or just hiding things
from you, there has got to be other problems in your
On the OTHER hand, I usually say trust your intuition. If it's
not because you're overly suspicious or overly jealous and you
DO have a good marriage, then I'd trust my intuition, if I were
you. It's strange that your husband would go through the
trouble of hiding this woman's phone number under a man's name
in his address book, etc. etc.
no specific solution - just things to contemplate on
There's no real way to know the facts without following him.
You've already looked in his email so why not that too? There's
also no way you are going to be able to keep your husband from
not doing these things. If you beg & plead w/him not to see her
or show him how insecure you may be or whatever. If he wants to
do something w/ someone else, he will no matter what. I have
always been a suspicious mind but finally realize why.. my own
temptations. I have just realized how hard it is to reject a
person that means a lot to you & has for ever. So in your
situation, or rather your husbands I think you do have a just
worry/suspicion. This person is obviously special to him & the
question you probably have is what it may turn into. The
excitement of something new/different is exciting. Can you not
agree? If someone came up to you and propositioned you...could
you turn & walk away? Especially if you had a great
relationship w/ this person. It may be true, the reason your
husband is covering up his lunch dates w/ a male name instead of
hers is to not alarm you, but you'll never really know. Even if
you do confront him, are you going to believe his answer?
Advice... maybe keep yourself busy w/ some friends of your own.
Have some time for yourself, movie nights, massages, etc. Try to
spice up what you do have at home, get new sheets, candles,
loungerie, etc. Just a few thoughts.
As a man, I don't believe there are any ''innocent'' relationships
between men and women, barring those between some siblings and
parents. Otherwise, libido and sexual attraction taint all
relations between men and women, at least from the man's side. I
have spent most of my adult life as a married man in exclusive
committed relationships. I cheated on my first wife twice (she
never found out) but have so far remained faithful to my present
wife of nearly ten years. Suffice it to say that, though I remain
committed to my marriage, I have little confidence in my
long-term ability to resist the temptaion that daily threatens to
tear my world apart. Some studies indicate that around half of
men cheat in their marriages and only a quarter of women do.
Other studies aren't so generous.
The incessant pull to spread my genes as widely as possible always
threatens to make a mockery of my promise of fidelity and my
professed love for my wife. This is part of the human condition
that I (and, as far as I can tell, virtually all men) find myself in.
From where I stand President Clinton
was not exceptionally libidinous, only exceptionally exposed.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but beneath the thin veneer of
civilization ALL MEN ARE DOGS. Really, no one should be surprised
at another man's adultery, but only at
his fidelity. As much as I wish it were otherwise, this is
the actual world I live in. The tendency to stray is only
tenuously held in check by commitment to relationship, natural
cowardice, fear of being caught, fear of rejection, fear of
looking foolish, etc.
That said, some of the things that strengthen my resolve to
remain faithful are the closeness I feel with my wife, the extent
to which I feel she is a friend who is ''on my side,'' who knows
and supports my dreams and goals. When our relationship turns
adversarial or when I feel taken for granted or used, my resolve
If your husband is seeing another woman without sharing that with you,
it is highly suspect. Hiding her phone number under a guy's name--- If
he is not having an affair or considering doing so he may be a saint,
or just hormonally challenged. Infidelity is a perpetration and a
betrayal of trust. Spying on your husband, of course, could also be
construed as such, so you don't want to expose yourself. But your
suspicion is only human and probably well placed. My gut feeling is
that if he is wholly innocent he would quickly forgive you, were you
to confess your little subterfuge in a non-accusatory way. If, on the
other hand, he were only to shame you in order to get the upper hand,
I would take it as an admission of guilt. Ultimately, you must
probably rely on your intuition, unless you can afford a private
investigator. This is the charade men and women must play because we
are afraid to be honest about who (or how?) we really are. My own
attempts to share this perspective with my wife did not generate more
trust and closeness, as I had hoped, but quite the contrary,
diminished the same.
Best of luck to you and your dog/husband. God knows we all need it.
I, unfortunately, can relate to your posting, since my own
marriage has survived an affair. I too know the shame of
secretly monitoring my husband's email, phone records, visa
statements, and so forth. Of course, you may not be dealing
with anything more than a harmless friendship here. Perhaps the
safest course is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
For what its worth, you might consider making plans for a nice
evening with just the two of you to give you a chance to check in
with him and to let him know how much he means to you. You could
probably find out a lot just by the way he reacts to this. Is he
pleased with the attention? or uncomfortable? I probably
wouldn't confront him with what you know, even though it would be
so tempting to do so. You could consider continuing to woo him
in this way, and perhaps his interest, if he has any, in his
ex-coworker might wane.
I completely validate your feelings. I know what you are going through
because i was the person you describe. Your husband may be having a
kind of emotional affair. Not a physical one but a secret kind of
''harmless'' friendship. It is a hard line for you though as you
There are no clear answers but you already feel betrayed or you
wouldn't be checking up on him. Only you know your partner and what
your relationship can support but the thrill of secrecy has a hold on
My husbands ''strategy'' was to say it out loud. He would say ''Oh yeah
that is your lover huh?'' Not in a threatening way, or angry but almost
a girlfriend would. That took all the wind out of it and ended the
I guess you will get a lot of responses, but here is my opinion.
If you have been in a situation that has resulted in the loss of
trust with a partner, it is harder to build and maintain trust.
There are many things that you can do to work on this, one would
be individual therapy so that you can work on healing yourself.
Another positive step is to have a healthy relationship with
someone who understands your background and is willing to
support you. Unfortunately, it seems like your husband is not
acting in a supportive way by keeping secrets from you. My
suggestion is to start couples therapy. It sounds like there are
issues that haven't been discussed and so you aren't feeling
supported in the ways you need to trust him.
My husband and I have been in therapy for almost three years. We
have spent a lot of time working on rebuilding trust in our
relationship. It is slow going sometimes, and suspicions rear
their head at various times, but really what he and I both know
is that what I need to feel I can trust him is honesty... that
isn't a control issue, it is an openness issue. Fortunately, my
husband values our relationship and keeping up trust more than
privacy in his computer use, and knowing that has allowed me to
feel less suspicious so that I am not monitoring his computer
activities... but that has taken lots of work.
I don't know how you can bring this issue up without letting
him know how you found out. Eventually he will figure it out
for himself. My red flag went up when you mentioned he wrote
down a ''male name'' under her number. This would definitely make
me want to know a lot more about the situation.
If he is ''misbehaving,'' what would be your plan of action?
Work things out or leave him? I think you would need to figure
out/ plan how you will deal with the truth before you make any
moves. If you're desperate enough to know and have cash, you
might want to hire a private investigator since therapy is out.
But suppose you find out he's not cheating, how will you feel
and handle your relationship with your husband then? I think
it's important for you to develop a trust with him or you will
be forever suspicious. Good luck and I hope you make the best
decision for yourself and s.o.
Just a few things to think about or consider.
Has anyone out there been in a relationship with someone who has
been unfaithful and they've since changed and are now faithful?
What did it take for that person to change their colors?
I'm in a long term relationship w/ someone who has at least 2x's
in the past 2 years stepped outside the relationship. One was a
flirtation w/ a coworker, the second went further to dating
another person. I have felt like i should just end the
relationship but it is so complicated with 2 kids involved, one
ours, the other his, but i am his kid's mother figure.
Am I foolish to believe that ''this time'' he will really be
true? I don't believe it myself, but want to since sharing
custody sounds awful, and i would probably move to southern
california to have some family/friends support that i don't have
here. it would mean the baby wouldn't see her dad or brother
but once a month or even less! i really don't want my baby to
grow up in a split household but don't know if i'm just fooling
Your advice and wisdom are appreciated!
bewildered need your 20/20!
I think that cheating is like any other addiction...unless that
person seeks some serious help, they will not change. There are
deep issues behind his cheating and he needs to get at the root
of them. I am married to a man who cheated on me the first year
we were together and has not since. I believe his reason for
cheating was motivated by a tremendous insecurity and his fear of
losing me and not wanting to be alone. We sought help together
and seperately and it changed our relationship. I believe now
that he would never cheat for the same reason....fear of losing
me, as he knows I would not stay. I should mention that we have
been to hell and back (because of issues not relating to our
relationship--death and like in our families) several times in
the decade we have been together since, and consequently, this ishow I know he loves me and would not do such a
through all that with me just to throw it all away? that said, I
think you should know I am married to the exception, not the
rule, and in my mind most men (or women) that cheat, always will.
It sounds to me like your husband is pushing you to see how far
he can go...I would get out of that situation (unless he agrees
to get some help) before it gets worse (and believe me it does).
What's worse is you are sending the message to your kids that
this is acceptable behavior in a relationship, and it's not. In
my opinion it's never a good idea to stay in an unhappy
relationship ''for the kids sake.'' I have a stepdauhter who sees
her dad (my husband) once a month or so, and even though it's not
ideal, they have a strong relationship. Her parents realized that
they would be better parents to her seperately than together (she
was an infant at the time), and you can definately see the
difference. I say let go of the stigma attached to being in a
''split household'' and embrace the idea of having a healthy
environment to raise your child (having family and friends close
by will help too!) It's a difficult decision I know, but you
asked yourself if you would be foolish to stay, and I think, yes
What you see is what you get. His character will not change.
Think of it this way - do you want your child to learn that
emotionally abused women should stay with a cheater? Or that
fathers are liars and cheaters?
Past behavior is the precurser for future behavior. If there are
no consequences to his actions, why should he stop? He gets away
with it..... you both should seek counseling, both separately
and together to do one of two things-- resolve, change and go
forward; or work your way out! of the relationship.
Yes, a broken home is not top choice for anyone with children,
but do you want your children growing up in a household that
is ''broken'' anyway?
Good luck and be strong!! If ''stepping out'' is a deal breaker in
your relationship, then stick to that.....
big Dr Phil Fan....
Yes, I believe with guidance and counsling someone can
change. Start couples counsling and he should have private
tharapy for a while. Try a little to moniter his activites so you
can see if he is heading down the wrong path again and
intervene. If really nothing works, trying seperating for a few
months and then take another shot. Sometimes things just
Do you both share the same definition of what it means to go
outside a relationship? Maybe you purposely didn't go into
detail, but flirting with someone would not even constitute a
step outside the relationship for me. Dating someone? What is
dating? I have male friends and I have lunch with them
occasionally just like I do with female friends. So I see them
without my husband, but I am not dating them, even if we go to
lunch in regular pattern such as once a month or so. I also
happen to be into partner-dancing and my husband doesn't like
to dance. As I dance with different dancers in class, whenever
the teachers announce rotation of dancers, I am also not
stepping outside the relationship. I just know that and so does
my husband. We are social beings and we should be proud if our
spouses are liked and respected by others regardless of gender.
Cheating to me means having a sexual relationship with someone
else other than your spouse (secret or not), if your spouse
prefers or expects to have an exclusive relationship with you
(based on what you agreed upon when you got married). If your
husband is simply socializing and not telling you, because you
wouldn't allow it - you need to have a good open talk until you
find common ground. If he has been cheating (by the definition
above), I think it will happen again in time despite of good
intentions or promises, if the underlying problems are not
resolved or reoccur.
this page was last updated: Nov 13, 2008
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network