Are there reason or justifications for having an affair?
This seems to be debated by both sides of the affair and while I do not believe many people believe that having an affair is “right” some people think there are fair reasons people have affairs. Some think that they do not get enough physical intimacy and they stray. Some crave the attention that a new relationship can bring. Some find a friendship take an unexpected turn when they were not really looking for anything. There are many “reasons” people have affairs but in all actuality the only “reason” someone has an affair is because they choose to have one.
For me I can point out many issues with my marriage that many people would argue led me to have an affair. When in reality the reason I had an affair is I chose to. After reading this post I really have tried to think about the reason I had an affair.
In a short recap of many of my other posts I can lay down the ground work of my marriage. We dated beginning of my junior of high school and have been together for 23 years. We have had our share of life struggles and through it all the only constant factor we had was each other. We were broke at times. We were all by ourselves without anyone to help us, guide us or even be friends with us. The only thing we really have ever fought about was sex. Early on in our relationship she was the more adventurous of the two of us although we seemed to have about the same drive, but that quickly diminished. Soon her drive was much lower than mine and this led to a lot of painful conversations over the years. We always seemed to get caught in a vicious cycle of fighting, anger, guilt, shame, and more guilt. I would hate these fights. After they would reach a certain level I just started trying to completely withdraw. She would tell me at times during these fights that I should go find someone who can take care of me. She would not blame me if I did. During all of this I never even considered it. So why did I do it. The only thing I have come up with is it is not about the sex. It never was. I had an affair because I chose to not pursue my wife to give me the attention I wanted and I know she wanted to give me.
Our lives were busy. We have kids, 2 in high school. They are involved in a million activities and so both of us always seem to be running from activity to activity. The only time we seem to see each other is in passing or at the end of the night when we are both exhausted. She came from a very traditional household with her father working until 5:00 pm. He would come home to family dinner and then they would go and do whatever sporting activities might be going on. Her mother stayed home most of her life until she decided to go back to school once all the kids were in school. Unfortunately, this is her view of what our life she be. She knows it is not possible with all we have going on and I don’t work a normal 9 to 5 job. However this does nothing to deter the feelings of failure she has about herself as a mother. She doesn’t have dinner on the table at 5. We sometimes cannot clean our house until one of our free nights or if one of us decides to stay up late and do it. Not that our house is dirty, it is far from it, but that does not matter to her.
What I did not get out of all of this is she had and still has different expectations of our marriage. She also has very unrealistic expectations of herself and her role as a wife and mother. With her mother she saw her role as a mother and care taker, but she never saw her as a wife or lover. It was never talked about in their family or in our community for that matter. Sex was a topic that was not to be discussed. So what is the first thing to go in our marriage when she feels like a failure, I believe it was this role of being my wife and lover. What I did not get was that I was as much at fault as her in this area. I have never been able to express to anyone what it is that I want or need. So I could not express to her what my expectations or desires were. I made her job so much harder without even knowing it. I also should have done a better job pursuing her. I am sure she would have liked to be wooed. It is not that I did not do things for her or try to make her feel special at times, but the consistency was not there. I love her and have always thought she was beautiful and i have always desired her. But I did not make her feel this way because all my efforts were assumed to be a means to an end (sex). I needed to be more consistent at just making her feel like I desire her to be with me, I want her as my partner, I need her as my companion and I cannot live without her attention. None of this is directed at sex. It is the attention I want from her, but I can not see why she would not want the same.
Tomorrow is our anniversary and we will have been married for 21 years. It will be a tough day because of what we have been through this year. We have agreed not to do gifts, but instead spend our time with each other. We will only get a little tomorrow but we have set the weekend aside for us. I have some thoughts about what I may still do for her. I will not get her a present as agreed but that does not mean I cannot show her other ways that I love her.
I am still struggling to write because I know she is no longer comfortable with it. She encourages me, as does our counselor, to do it but just knowing that it bothers her, makes it almost impossible to do. It has erased the only outlet I have to get everything out of my head. But today, I needed to try and makes sense of everything that we have been through. I needed to write it down so I know what I am feeling. This seems to be the only way I can take the things that are inside of me and put any substance to them. To me they are a jumble of pictures and almost what I would imagine a psychopath would see as feelings. I can see how I am supposed to feel and how I am supposed to act in every different situation, but I can’t actually feel it. The only way I can feel it is if I can make sense of it and the only way to do that is to get it out of my head. I have to match the pictures, words and this jumble of feelings. Once they are all lined up the I can feel what is going on, I can express what is going on in my head. I am sure through my posts you can see that this is an enormous task. It is why counseling is so hard. How do I feel? I don’t know, but that is not an acceptable answer. I know what I should say but I am trying to be honest and if I don’t know then I say it. I tell them I cannot express what I am feeling or I take a lot of time trying to figure it out. The silence is often long and uncomfortable.
What does this have to do with all that I have wrote up above? I am struggling to find a way to express to her exactly how I feel. Yes, the easy way would be a letter, but I want it to be more than that. I wrote her something last year and guess what it only adds to the pain we have felt over the last year. So how do I express something I cannot exactly express? How do I show her what she really means to me? How do I make her understand that she all I want? I have an idea but I don’t know if it will work or really get the point across. All I do know is that I cannot do worse than I did last year, but I need to find a way to help us make this day about us again. I need to make the focus on who we are together, not on what has happened. I know my mind has not left that position for the last few weeks. I focus and fixate on how bad it was last year, what I did, what I have put her through. I just need to get my mind out of there so I can help us focus on us. It is always bad when your own worst enemy lives inside your head.
Stop telling such outlandish tales. Stop turning minnows into whales – Dr. Suess
Boy, do I understand the mind clutter. That’s why I started blogging, as a journal of sorts, but to clear my head and see, in print, the traffic in my mind. As far as how to best show her you truly want HER, I don’t know. I would think the best way, for your anniversary at least, would be to put thought into what she’d really enjoy. Not necessarily expensive, but something that shows you thought of her and know her well enough to do whatever it is you come up with. To show her in the future how much you care, I’d think being open, honest, caring, loving, and vulnerable with her would go a long way.
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You know….husbands and wives don’t talk about the most important things. Thr need for sex since that is one way we communicate, the need to contemplate and then express how we feel. We need to talk about money, time together, child care etc. By the way, I hope your kids have part time jobs or they do a good bit of work around the house. Be practical. Make breakfast the meal everyone has to share. The kids do their own laundry, they take turns cooking meals, they take out the garbage, they walk the dog, they sit with their parents and work out a budget. You and your wife find an hour a day to sit in your room and visit, talk, be quiet, hug, make love. Just be together. Say “thank you” to each other. Compliment instead of criticize. You are a guy. Your entire life has been spent hiding in the garage so you don’t have to talk about your feelings. Ask her for things. ‘Just tell her you miss her when you aren’t getting enough time together. Just talk to her. Do the dishes. Run the vacuum cleaner. I hate vacuuming.
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Tell her all your chaotic thoughts, ramble if you have to but express your sorrows of the past & joy of the present & hopes for the future. Thank her for continuing on this journey with you and that you will never ever take that for granted. Don’t buy her a gift if you agreed not to but make her something special that she will love, and it will mean so much that you made it for her because what’s important today, (to you), is that she feels how loved she is and it is not at all about getting back anything from her. Try to understand that you may feel you had reasons for why you did what you did, but at the end of the day, she is still choosing to be with you affair & all, and as a betrayed spouse, trust me when I tell you that ‘that’ is something that she needs you to aknowledge, a lot. Have a great anniversary & remember, you are a lucky man to have her because not everyone who’s cheated on stays and she is lucky beause not everyone who cheats changes & becomes a better person!! 🙂
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There may be reasons for an affair, but there is NEVER justification for actually doing so.
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This week I will be married for 21 years…so strange sometimes the similarities between our marriages, our lives. I too was a stay at home mom like your wife for years, who put our kids and everything in life before myself and my needs. Like your wife though, I didn’t cheat. I didn’t stray. I didn’t do ‘anything’ really wrong, and here I sit, unable to celebrate 21 years of being a kick ass wife, because my marriage ended up being blown to bits. And here I sit still trying to pick up the pieces, every single day.
What can you do for your wife? On the anniversary of your marriage, the one you disregarded while having your affair? Just be there for her, because there is no flower, no gift, no meal that can make the pain less. You just have to understand that of triggers? This and D-day are the worst, the ones that bring us to our knees, and make it all come flooding back. So be there, however she needs you. If she wants to talk? Talk. If she wants to scream and cry, hold her. And if she wants to pretend like it doesn’t exist? Just be nice that day, fix dinner, clean the house, give her an extra long hug. Because it’s a reminder of what could and should have been, and it hurts.
Sorry, probably a little emotional this week. But hang in there, it will get easier for the both of you.
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This was just what I needed to hear. I went through the day doing the things you said but was unable to understand why she just couldn’t be happy. Our counselor asked us to reclaim our day but nothing I did seemed to make her happy. She would smile and say nothing was wrong but everything else about her told a different story. It made me feel exactly like before the affair, that I can’t make her happy. I could not get how we could reclaim the day if it is not filled with happy moments. I felt like a huge failure, again.
Now hearing you say this reminds me that there is nothing I can really do other than be there for her. I can say that I was and even though she did not look like she was enjoying the day I kept trying.
If only I could go back 7 years and take completely different paths. I can’t and so I go on. Hopefully she stays with me but in the end I care more that she can be happy and loved. If that is not me any longer then so be it, but I will continue to try each and every day.
Thanks again for your comments. Your story was the first I read and it is the one the hits me the hardest because as you said our stories are so similar. So your words mean a lot.
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