Why does a cheater stay?

Emotional Affair Journey did a post the other day about the reasons a cheater stays after an affair.   Dave Carder, a renowned therapist, said that men always stay for finances and children.  They love their spouse, but that love is buried by all the hurt and the infatuation for the other woman.  Time is needed to dig up that love again.  He says it can be rekindled and love can thrive again.  Over time, the marriage can be wonderful again.

The thing that I am stuck on is that feelings of infatuation do not go away.  They are just put in storage.  That surely must apply to both the love for the spouse and the love for the other woman.  So if this is true, then for the rest of our lives,  I will have to live with knowledge that he will always have that love for her.  And if his love for me can be rekindled, then his love for her can be rekindled, too.

If he is here for the finances or the children or the security, that is not enough.  If I am not the apple of his eye, then that is not enough.  I want it all, or nothing at all.  Am I making sense?  Is this the way of things?

Maybe that is not the right thing to say immediately after D-day.  Maybe it takes some time for the fog to lift.  Maybe Dave Carder is right and men always stay because of kids and finances.  I think I sort of knew this on some level, and have given it time and care and my best efforts.  It hurt like heck to think that I was not the reason he stayed.  Through my pain, I stuck it out.

But it’s been over a year now, and if he is not past all that and if he cannot tell me that he truly doesn’t want to live a life without me, then we are done.  We are in counseling because the kids begged us to try again.  We’ll see how it goes.  I am not optimistic.  I have made plans for separation and will follow through on them if I cannot be convinced that he loves me above all others and wants to be with me.

It scares me to think about going out on my own after 29 years of marriage to my first love, but I will not settle for being second fiddle.  I will not be the one he is stuck with because he made the wrong choice when he was young and stupid.

That’s how it feels right now anyway.  I have changed course a couple of times in this journey.

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6 thoughts on “Why does a cheater stay?

  1. “And if his love for me can be rekindled, then his love for her can be rekindled, too.” – I too am deathly afraid of that… When my husband was busy blogging with Her especially the weeks after D-Day (Apr 5th), I kept asking him if he really wanted to be married to me. I told him time and time again that he owed me nothing, that he didn’t have to be with me if he didn’t want to anymore. Guilt is definitely not a reason to have him in my life. Fast forward to September, when I found the emails to Her from when he was vacationing in London, I flipped out. I remembered yelling, “So will she be in your mind for the rest of your life? Whenever we go somewhere, will it remind you of her? And will you have to keep communicating with her forever??” He said of course not and it was only temporary bla bla bla, but I had enough and gave him the ultimatum right there and then.

    So I completely understand how you feel right now. If he couldn’t be in the marriage 100% then I don’t want to have any part of it either. If my husband still kept his blog or if I found any other emails to the Wretched Woman, I’d be gone in a heartbeat. I will not tolerate any of it. To me, that’s not what a marriage should be. I don’t think it’s fair for us the betrayed spouses, to still be ‘lied’ to when the other half stays in the marriage for any other reasons than being in love. Don’t do me any favor, you know. I’m a big girl and I’ll be fine if we have to be apart…

    You’ll know what to do when you feel what’s right…
    Good Luck my friend. I’m rooting for you.

  2. Not Over It says:

    Thank you so much, Fighter. So I’m not off my rocker in thinking this way…

    I read your blog when I need to find strength. It’s wonderful that we are all here for each other.

    Prayers for you are floating up to Heaven as I write…

    DJ

  3. Pippi says:

    I read that same post on EAJ the other day and I’m going to turn around the question and ask “why are you staying?” Why do we, the betrayed spouses, stay after being treated so horrifically and suffering so much pain? I had a personal epiphany the other day. I’ve been way down on myself for not leaving but after working with my therapist, I realized that I have to heal no matter whether I stay or go. I have to heal first. So, I’ve shifted my focus to healing myself (screw the “marriage” at this point). And, for me, healing myself will be easier if I stay in the marriage (for now) because if I leave now, I have to deal with my wounds AND the wounds my young children will suffer when their family is broken apart.

    This has been freeing for me. To think of myself — take care of myself. And I’m trying hard to ignore what he does or doesn’t do. I think that that is giving me some power back. It feels that way. And, I want my power back. There is nothing more attractive than a confident woman and I’m trying to get back to her.

    So, my point is, you are making a choice, too. And, while he may always carry a soft spot in his heart for her, you can leave him sooner or later if you want to. And, when we give ourselves our power back, unfaithful husbands will know that we will no longer tolerate their BS. The clock is ticking for them. My hope is that you and all of us betrayed spouses get our power back and make a stand for how we will and will not be treated.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hey Pippi,

      I have read some of your comments on EAJ. I can see your progress and your strength. I am getting there. My therapist tells me the same thing – work on yourself – strive to be confident again – nothing is more alluring than a confident, happy woman. I sometimes feel that I am making progress and sometimes I fall back down again. All part of the process, I guess.

      I do realize I have made a choice by staying. I have made it clear that this may be temporary. I just take it day by day. I am in fact talking to my therapist today about leaving.

      I’m glad you are doing well. Take care.

      DJ

  4. Pippi says:

    I find it interesting how comments come across. I don’t feel strong. I feel angry and I think that comes across as strong. I’m pissed as hell but I can’t really express that at home. Not most days anyway and keeping it inside is lethal for me. And, I’m not really doing all that well. My couples therapist was so worried about my suicidal tendencies that she now has me seeing my own therapist in addition to seeing her. But, thanks for the vote of confidence if I sound like I have my act together (in writing at least).

  5. Kris says:

    I need to listen to what this Dave guy says – I don’t believe that ALL men stay because of finances and the kids. I believe when for some, when they’re in the fog that can be a determining factor, the anchor that keeps them home but when the fog lifts I do believe they can realize they love their wife more than anyone and I believe those feelings can not just fade but completely go away.

    That was a big fear of mine when my H came home. He would NOT end the adultery when I found out. Moved out shortly after and continued the adultery. So when he came back I was fearful those feelings were still there and he was wrestling with them. I think that’s just a fear ANY WOMAN would have when their spouse does something like this. All the talk of DRUG LIKE INDUCED THOUGHTS, FOG, INFATUATION, FANTASY it makes us think our men were wrapped around this particular person’s fingers. It makes us think that the one individual had so much power or a way to illicit feelings from our spouse. Truth is, it’s not the person it’s the feelings they were given by that person. Has your husband ever said anything to you about his feelings? What *has* he said that has given you comfort?

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