The question itself, the very thought, brings up feelings of infuriation, and triggers a sequence of more obsessive, painful and even harmful thoughts that hinder the very thing you long for most; healing and peace.
We all want answers. You deserve answers. Understanding why, the past, is the key to learning from the past (which is the only sane thing to do at this point), because no matter how much you want to, you cannot go backwards in time and undo what has been done. Therefore we ask “why” questions when it comes to extramarital affairs, so we can understand the past, the core issues that led us to where we are today, so we can change the future and make sure an extramarital affair never happens in our marriage again.
The problem with this question is it implies intent. It suggests that your spouse woke up one morning and thought to them self, “Today I’d really like to hurt my spouse. Hmmmmmm. Let me see. What evil, painful, horrible thing can I think of? I know. I’ll have an affair. That’ll really hurt them.”
It doesn’t happen that way.
Most people mean their wedding vows when they say them. Spouses generally do not set out intending to have an affair/s. They slide across boundaries, largely through lack of self-awareness and complete naivety about extramarital affairs.
The sliding, naivety and ignorance does not offer them an excuse. Anyone who fails to keep their wedding vows is fully responsible for all of their choices. However, understanding the factors that led up to these choices offers an explanation, and then most importantly knowledge that can help any couple to be monogamous from this day forward, and with that monogamy (if you are willing to learn the skills) also have a love and passion in your relationship, that most couples only dream of achieving.
We take couples through an in-depth process to help them understand the core issues (why’s) behind the affair that occurred in their marriage, and from their how to create a solid action plan of change to ensure an affair never happens again during the confidential Healing From Affairs Intensive Weekends.
We realize that there is a whole genre of people in our culture today who believe that monogamy is unrealistic. Anyone believing this WILL have affairs. We’re not talking about those people.
We’re talking about good people who meant their wedding vows 100%, and before they themselves got caught up in an affair, thought they never could do such a thing (so did their friends, family and co-workers), and in fact these people may even have judged others who had affairs. Now they find themselves having done something they once fully believed they never could.
If you believe you are married to someone who embraces the belief that affairs are normal, monogamy is unrealistic, and everyone has affairs, unless they change their belief system, that person will continue to have affairs.
What if you do believe your spouse intentionally had an affair just to hurt you?
(as in the letter below - my responses in blue)
It has been 9 months since I found out about my husbands affairs. We have decided to work to try and save our marriage. We have been married for 27 years and have 3 grown children and two grandchildren. Like many others I thought we had a perfect marriage and the affair blind-sided me.
I struggle every day with the question of whether or not I will be able to accept what has happened and why he did it.
It’s normal to struggle wondering if you can ever accept what has happened. I, myself, spent 2.5 years in a great cloud of sadness, wondering if it was even sane of me to hope that I would ever know a single day of happiness again in my life. I’m glad I kept trying. Today, my life is amazing. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. If I can do it, you can too, only it doesn’t need to be as hard for you, nor as long, because I can show you the way.
I have read many stories and listened to people talk about what the issues were around why their spouse went outside of the marriage, most looking to fulfill something they were not getting at home or where they were caught up in a situation that swept them away, but have not heard anyone talk about how to deal with the situation when a spouse purposely went out to have an affair with the intention of hurting their spouse. How do you come to terms with knowing that your spouse wanted to hurt you so badly?
I wouldn’t bother listening to most people, because most people are completely uneducated and uninformed about extramarital affairs. These commonly used and believed explanations “trying to fulfill something they weren’t getting at home” or “just got caught up in a situation that swept them away,” while they may have a few drops of truth in them, completely fail to address the core issues of why the affair happened.
The fact that most couples never discover the core issues behind why the affair happened is the reason why an extramarital affair/s often re-occurs. You’ve got to understand and address the root causes.
You come to terms with the fact that your spouse hurt you so badly, by fully understanding why the affair happened.
I am fully healed today, and have no pain attached to the memory of my husband’s affair, BECAUSE I GET IT. I get it how a good man or woman can end up doing something so wrong and so hurtful. I can help you get it too.
My husband says he was unhappy and didn’t feel cared for because my job requires me to travel, and occasionally I had to be away on special days. He also says that he did not feel like I really needed him because I did not go to him with problems. He also says that during this time he felt that I should have known that he was unhappy because of how long we had been together and that if I cared I would have changed my behavior, and since I did not change he felt hurt and betrayed.
Blame. Blame. Blame. In the beginning of any couples healing journey, the unfaithful spouse typically blames the injured spouse for their choice to have an affair. They have to do this, because if they did not point the finger at you, they would have to look at themselves, and that’s very difficult to do. A series of justifications, subtle deceptions, and eventually all out lies have led them to the place where they are today. In the beginning when they attempt to give you a reason for their affair, they cannot give you the truth, because they don’t even know the truth themselves.
He has told me that the first affair had nothing to do with me or our marriage, but he does admit that the second affair had everything to do with me.
While your husband is doing his best to give you truthful answers, what he is saying is not necessarily truth, and it is not wise or conducive to healing to take it as such. Your husband can’t give you the truth, because he does not yet understand the truth himself. The truth about why the affair happened is something a couple discovers together. Most couples need outside guidance to do this.
Because he felt hurt by me he wanted me to hurt just as badly he went looking to have an affair. He does admit that is how it started but then he did get caught up in how it made him feel which is why it continued for a few months (and may still be going on if I had not found out).
He does recognize that he was wrong and that his way of thinking was really screwed up and that if we are going to make it communication is key.
Even if your husband’s response to pain was to lash out and “hurt you just as badly” – that still doesn’t make it “his main intent to hurt you just as badly.” His response to his pain was to lash out and hurt. His real desire was to be heard, to get his needs met. He longed to be understood.
Every person has ingrained responses to pain. Some people lash out angrily. Others become passive-aggressive. Others don’t say anything, and it builds and builds ‘til suddenly they leave the relationship and the other person is devastated because they thought they had a good marriage the whole time. None of these responses is better/worse than the other, although I’m sure many would debate them. Bottom line all of the above are unhealthy responses.
The healthy response to perceived injustice (pain) is to honestly express to the person involved your anger, why you feel angry, and to request that that person change their behavior. This, however, would require good communication skills, which most people don’t have. Most people follow behaviors of responding to pain in their lives based on patterns modeled and learned from their families of origin.
So while on the surface, you and your husband currently perceive the reason for his affair to be “make you hurt as badly as he did,” I hope you can see that really he just wanted to be heard and understood. He did not possess the skills, and followed ingrained unhealthy patterns of responding to perceived injustice in his life.
The series of contributing factors that led him to have an affair go much deeper than either of you are looking right now. It’s looking (only at the surface issues) that is causing you so much pain still.
His parents marriage was destroyed by an affair, and our oldest son has also gone through a divorce because of an affair so he has first hand knowledge of the damage an affair can cause yet he still choose that as the means in which to hurt me. Have others experienced this specific situation, how do you move forward?
You move forward by understanding. Most teenagers have first hand knowledge of other teens who have suffered the painful consequences of pre-marital sex, like pregnancy, STD’s, AIDS, and getting dumped and humiliated after giving your heart to someone. For some reason this first hand knowledge doesn’t stop them from taking the same risks. Everyone thinks, “That won’t happen to me.”
It is a fallacy to believe that knowing the pain others have suffered from affairs is going to prevent you or anyone else from having affairs. Our society as a whole has so little understanding about the factors that lead to affairs. That lack of knowledge make us more vulnerable.
You’d be surprised how many people who have affairs had been the betrayed spouse in a previous marriage. They mistakenly believe because they know first hand how painful it is they themselves could never do such a thing. Now they’ve gotten caught up in an affair themselves. Knowing the pain that affairs cause is not a factor that helps to prevent them. Reasons for affairs are much more complicated than that.
Obviously this is a big topic, and I cannot give you everything you need to know or understand about why the affair happened in your marriage here in this article.
Our Healing from Affairs weekends are for couples that wish to heal their marriage after an affair, or at least get some answers so if they do get a divorce they can put a healthy closure on the past.
During these weekends we take couples through a process that helps them to really “get it” why the affair happened in their marriage. This “getting it” is what leads to complete healing and eventually acceptance. Those who wish to heal their marriages can have monogamy and happiness together from this day forward.
If you’d like further help, call our office 604.859.9393 to book a one time coaching session, with myself, Anne Bercht, or request that our Passionate Life Coaching Team contact you personally to give you more information about our coaching packages.
After there has been an affair in your marriage you will never be the same again. You will either be bitter or better – never the same. That being the case, we believe BETTER is the only sane choice to make.
©Copyright 2013 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.
For information about confidential coaching with Brian or Anne click here.
If you would like to share a success story,
helpful insight or comment on this article we welcome your remarks.
Email your questions or comments to Brian and/or Anne firstname.lastname@example.org .
(Due to the large volume of emails we receive, we cannot answer all emails, but we care about every person who contacts us and will do our best to respond personally to you.)