Can couple restore the trust after husband’s affair?

Vickie has discovered her husband has been unfaithful and asks Dr Emmanuella for help.

‘My husband has had an affair’

Vickie is shattered to discover her husband has had an affair. She asks Dr Emmanuella for help in deciding whether to work through the hurt or leave him.

Q. Vickie
My husband has admitted to having an affair. I left my first husband for that very reason. I am shattered. I don’t know whether I can ever trust him again. How do I work through this? How do I stop feeling it must be partially my fault to have had it happen twice?

A. It’s never easy finding out this news. I bet you are feeling shattered and given you have experienced this once before, must make it even harder.

Most people say that if their partner cheated, they would end it – until it happens. It sounds like you want to see whether you can save your marriage. In my experience, affairs happen for many reasons, but they always cause pain.

You need loads of empathy and support. I’d recommend you both see a couples’ therapist, but if that’s not what you both want, then the following steps can help prompt discussions with your husband:

The person who has had the affair needs to cease contact with another person involved.

  • Set a time-limit for asking questions. You can ask as many questions as you want but not indefinitely. The person who has had the affair needs to answer the questions honestly and give loads of empathy.
  • Both of you need to decide whether you want to recommit to your marriage.
  • Both of you need to raise and tackle any issues that have not been addressed in your marriage. Put it all out on the table.
  • Restrict the number of people you tell. Hearing everyone’s views on what you should do can make it harder to move on. 
  • Ensure you have enough ‘me time’. Prioritising your own self-care is important because if you don’t, this can cause resentment and lead people to find excitement elsewhere.

Talk to your husband about how you are feeling. Believe it or not, a relationship can survive an affair if you both choose to recommit.

Have you had to deal with an unfaithful partner? How did you handle the challenge? Do you have any advice for Vickie?

Dr Emmanuella Murray is a clinical psychologist who has been practising for more than 10 years. She works with children, adolescents, adults and couples, and presents to professionals and community groups. Go to her website for more information.

If you have a question for Dr Emmanuella, please send it to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au

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    COMMENTS

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    On the Ball
    22nd Jan 2019
    9:49am
    One simple comment.
    Either gender.. Fix why they cheated!
    Then learn from that and move on.
    maelcolium
    22nd Jan 2019
    10:38am
    Yep.
    Janus
    22nd Jan 2019
    11:41am
    Absolutely right. There is a reason for looking outside, for either party. Something(s) missing...

    As in all relationship collapses, failure to communicate is the Key.

    On a less happy note, ALL relationships end in tragedy. Someone is left unhappy, no matter how it ends.

    Have a nice day :-)
    KSS
    22nd Jan 2019
    12:19pm
    Yes I was surprised too that uncovering and dealing with the reasons for the infidelity was not mentioned.
    Hoohoo
    27th Jan 2019
    2:12pm
    You're a cheerful bastard, Janus.

    I think you're all wasting your time looking for a "reason" for infidelity. The cheater isn't acting on reason. They don't use their intellect to cheat. But somewhere in the back of their brain, they've given themselves permission to cross the line, (unless it's a one-night drunken root, perhaps).
    Hardworker
    22nd Jan 2019
    12:07pm
    I don't totally agree with the advice given by the clinical psychologist as she is assuming that both parties fall into the "normal" caring range of individuals. My experience is that a lot of people fall outside of what you would class as "normal" and include mental disorders that are not immediately detectable but impossible to correct and I should know as I was married to one. It sounds like once again Vickie has been attracted to the wrong type of man and needs to analyse for herself why she is attracted to a particular type of person so that she understands that she possibly needs to broaden her taste in men a little more. My advice is don't actually get married until you know a lot more about the person because there are a lot of problem people out there. This is the worst, most intimate kind of betrayal and should never be tolerated within a marriage. As far as I am concerned absolute faithfulness is the main reason to marry, otherwise you might as well stay single or just live together. This man is obviously all about himself, cannot be trusted, and personally I would not want to live like that as you would always be wondering when it's going to happen again and that is a stressful way to live. This is the very reason women need to wake up, educate themselves, get a well paid job and look after themselves because a lot of men are only interested in themselves and marry so that they have someone to support them. They are very good at harnessing women's energies to support themselves. Live your own life and don't be dependent on any male and only get married if you find a really good one. Learn to tell the difference between good and bad. I now have a very descent "friend" rather than a husband. Unfortunately Vickie by the time you cross off the homosexuals, the inadequates, the smokers, drinkers, the lazies, slobs, the hopeless with money, those who value their boy-toys more than their families, etc. etc. etc. there's not too much left. Leave the cheater far behind, take your time and try again.
    KSS
    22nd Jan 2019
    12:18pm
    Such judgement when we do not know the circumstances.

    I am not condoning infidelity, but there is nothing in the scenario to imply 'Vickie' is entirely blameless. Maybe its Vickie who has the mental issues, maybe she is inadequate (after all she has been down this road before), she may be gay, she may be the smoker and drinker, the lazy slob hopeless with money who values her collection of shoes and handbags more than her partner! Just because she is being portrayed as the 'victim' does not make it so.

    However flat the pancake, there are still two sides!
    Cat
    23rd Jan 2019
    2:33am
    You hit the nail on the head Hardworker. A lot of cheating happens simply because of the cheaters overblown sense of absolute entitlement. It doesn't matter how great their wife is, and nothing has to be 'missing' in the marriage because some people are just inherently disloyal.

    Some husbands cheat and actually go around bragging about it because it makes them feel 'big'. Not a thought given to how they are humiliating their partner. I think it's terrible how some people on this thread are actually making excuses and acting like it's valid to cheat.
    Barbara Mathieson
    22nd Jan 2019
    12:16pm
    Yup, agree with Hardworker!
    Hardworker
    22nd Jan 2019
    12:29pm
    Good on you Barbara. It appears that all the previous comments have been made by males who seem to think the betrayal is acceptable and that somehow, once again, it's the woman's fault. She didn't satisfy him. I know it can happen either way and it is up to the individuals whether they stay together and try to fix the problem or separate, but personally to me, faithfulness is a basic of marriage. If you are a truly considerate, caring individual and not a totally selfish prick, you would leave the relationship BEFORE it got to the point where you have an affair. Once a cheat, always a cheat. Leopards don't change their spots because they can't change their spots.
    Hoohoo
    22nd Jan 2019
    10:20pm
    Great comment, Hardworker. Many cheaters are just selfish & wouldn't consider ending or even working on a bad marriage BEFORE they have another sucker ready to "do". They don't want to do the hard yards - that's the work for their sucker spouse! If they were honest, both with themselves & with their spouse, they'd work on a solution to their marriage problems before humping someone outside of the marriage.
    I know a serial cheater. He's not a terrible person but he has biological children all over the place. He often marries the children's mothers, believing he's sincere in making a go of the marriage. Like you say, Hardworker "Leopards don't change their spots because they can't change their spots."
    Many women have a romantic view of marriage that their husbands simply do not share. All the man has to say is "I love you" & the fairytale is complete, until they start seeing each others warts. Face it, people are always hiopefully growing & changing. The only way for couples to weather the changes is to be committed to wanting themselves to be the best they can be, & wanting that for their partner, too.
    Anonymous
    22nd Jan 2019
    10:23pm
    What a sick view Hoohoo
    A bad marriage is a bad marriage and both parties should be mature enough to admit it and go their separate ways

    Women want to hang on to a man despite how badly they have treated them in the past . A few wise men come to their senses and say enough is enough
    Hoohoo
    23rd Jan 2019
    7:56pm
    Lothario, did you even read my post? Your response has no correlation to what I said.

    The crazy thing is that I agree with you - people SHOULD end toxic marriages, for all concerned, including children. But going your separate ways means that one person is ditching their family, so they really should just grow up & face up to their own short-comings & failures, AND FINALLY TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR ACTIONS, instead of running away & repeating their stuff-ups again & again, with unlucky & unhappy children paying the price for their parents' immaturity.

    You are living in fairyland by constantly making cheating a gender issue. Men stuff up & women stuff up - get over it!
    Chris_58
    22nd Jan 2019
    12:26pm
    There will never again be trust. Either you leave or he leaves, end of story. it will always be there between you - whether you like to think otherwise or not.
    Hardworker
    22nd Jan 2019
    12:31pm
    Thanks Chris_58 we need more comments from females to balance this argument. Both parties in a relationship need to be happy, not just one.
    Triss
    22nd Jan 2019
    1:01pm
    "Forsaking all others" is in the marriage vows, if you're not prepared to do that then don't get married.
    Hardworker
    22nd Jan 2019
    12:39pm
    Quite right KSS there is always more to the story but obviously they are two people who cannot discuss or express their individual needs and it has lead to the very worst kind of betrayal (in this case by the male) and I don't believe that once it gets to that stage that it can ever be repaired. They both need to learn from the experience, move on and try again.
    Sundays
    22nd Jan 2019
    1:03pm
    Very black and white view. My sister had an affair 30 years ago with a man at work who gave her the attention lacking in her marriage. It ended badly when her husband found out. I thought they would split but they stayed together for the children. They worked it out and somehow it made them stronger.
    OlderandWiser
    22nd Jan 2019
    12:54pm
    No information apart from he was unfaithful. Not why or who with. Was the affair with another female or a male, it does happen
    A lot depends on who he was banging. Was it her sister, best friend or a prostitute because she's shut the gate on him.
    Was it a one off romp or has it been going on for years 2 to 3 time a week.
    What made him admit it, got caught out, the other person putting pressure on him to leave his wife, or just felt guilty.
    With him admitting to an affair is the first step to reconciliation but bottom line is, it's unacceptable & trust issues will always be there.
    Hardworker
    22nd Jan 2019
    1:34pm
    Sundays I do feel that in some instances men can be more forgiving and understanding than women and when there are children involved, or a lack of money to leave the situation it's a bit of a different story. We certainly don't know all the circumstances here and there are many different stories out there and we can only go by what we ourselves have been through. Relationships are not easy as two people need to match in many different ways or be able to accept and compromise, but there is counselling available. The problem is people won't use it and just let the problems fester. Better to solve the problems early, give the relationship a certain amount of time to improve and if it doesn't then accept you are not right for each other and you need to separate. I make no apologies for my attitude as cheating BEFORE you separate shows that the individual is all for themselves and their own needs and doesn't really care about their partner. There are too many nasty diseases that can be passed on to the partner unknowingly through sexual contact. It shows a total lack of care towards the partner and possibly a "payback" attitude which is just plain nasty.
    purplejan88
    22nd Jan 2019
    1:43pm
    well said Hardworker
    Sundays
    22nd Jan 2019
    2:07pm
    I actually agree with you Hardworker having being married and faithful for 47 years. Just pointing out that leaving is not always the answer
    purplejan88
    22nd Jan 2019
    1:42pm
    if you want to bang on with someone else at least be fair to your partner and split first before doing so - it is called respect, also by being upfront first would give an opportunity to work out relationship issues if so desired by both parties.
    Missus P
    22nd Jan 2019
    3:01pm
    I couldn't agree more. The sadness, shock and heartache caused by a cheater is something no one should have to go through. Be up front or make the break before inflicting that on someone.
    GoldenOldie
    22nd Jan 2019
    5:06pm
    I too agree with purplejan88 & Missus P. "The sadness, shock and heartache caused by a cheater is something no one should have to go through." In my case that morphed into anger and defiance, that I would survive that betrayal and rebuild my life. It took a while but I did find another man worthy of my trust...but the anger and bitterness towards my ex lingers.
    Hardworker
    22nd Jan 2019
    5:23pm
    I understand you Golden Oldie, you and I and a few others here are true survivors, but if you let the anger and bitterness towards your ex linger he has won in ruining your life. I have read lots and lots of psychology books and this applies to anything bad that has happened to you in life. The way to go is that you fill your life with so many good and pleasurable things that you don't have time to feel anything towards the bad person or bad incident that is now in the past. Put it down to life experience. With so much domestic violence out there just be thankful you are still alive and able to enjoy the rest of your life. That's the way I look at it. No matter what happens, nothing can touch you because you have control over your own thinking, and only look for the positives and think positively. If we hold onto the bitterness it will only make us sick.

    22nd Jan 2019
    2:35pm
    Probably the woman’s fault that the husband needed to find love elsewhere
    She needs to forgive him and move on or move out
    Hardworker
    22nd Jan 2019
    2:51pm
    You're exactly the type of male we women can do without Lothario. Am I correct in thinking you make these types of comments just to wind us up? I hope that all the women in your life have been able to move on.
    Hoohoo
    22nd Jan 2019
    10:26pm
    The cheater should move out.
    Anonymous
    22nd Jan 2019
    10:31pm
    Hoohoo - so the woman makes the poor blokes life a misery for decades and he has to move out ???
    The stupid bugger should have kicked her out long ago
    Cat
    23rd Jan 2019
    2:45am
    And if she takes up the option of moving out she also needs to change her name, identity, appearance, job, social circle, and warn all of her friends and family because many cheaters
    also turn out to be stalkers due to the related pathology.
    Hoohoo
    23rd Jan 2019
    8:00pm
    Good point, Cat. Cheaters are often stalkers & some even end up being murderers, because they can't handle losing control. And they murder their children.

    Lothario, you presume the male is always the cheater - why?
    Missus P
    22nd Jan 2019
    2:55pm
    Years ago, my husband admitted to having an affair. He was apologetic, remorseful etc, and we tried to move on, but I never regained my trust in him and we lasted only a couple of years before we split up for good. Oh the lack of confidence in myself and the feelings of guilt he managed to inflict on me... looking back I feel sorry for the silly young woman I was. However I came through it and was stronger and more resilient because of the experience. My advice to anyone who's in this woman's position is to walk away and save yourself the stress of 'trying to work things out'. Even if the cheater is genuinely sorry, they never change, he'll do the same to the next woman in his life. Most children in families affected by this type of thing are perfectly fine if constantly reassured and given lots of support to understand that they will always be loved by both parents.
    Hardworker
    22nd Jan 2019
    3:24pm
    I have to agree with you Missus P. Don't beat yourself up over your mistakes as we were all young and inexperienced in our younger days. It is not the mistakes that we make that is important as we will all make mistakes one way or another. It is whether we learn from those mistakes that is important. One of the biggest problems that I can see from the past is that females were raised to just be somebody's wife, rather than to think about what they themselves wanted to do with their lives. There was also the attitude that you didn't need to educate girls as it was a waste of money as they just got married and had babies. Thank goodness times have changed. I am so glad to hear that, like me, you have come through your life experiences a strong, more resilient person. I think we need to talk to our children a lot more about the different types of people in the world and how to choose an appropriate partner rather than just assuming everyone will automatically know when the time comes. Unfortunately hormones get in the way of good sense at that time of our lives and we need to make our children aware of this.
    Aussie
    22nd Jan 2019
    3:55pm
    What ????? ... Can couple restore the trust after husband’s affair? .... What about the Wife affair ......shit one way only not correct we Man are not the only ones that have affairs .... better to just remove the HUSBAND word and leave it as affair only that will apply both ways .... shit
    Missus P
    22nd Jan 2019
    4:17pm
    Yes point taken Aussie, I think most on here would agree that women are just as likely to have affairs these days, perhaps not so many would dare in the past though. My brother was devastated when his wife of 20 years ran off with his mate, I think we've all known someone in that position. However, Hardworker is right about how women were raised to become good wives and mothers and not to even imagine having a decent education or aspirations of a career.Thank goodness that attitude has gone! As for a couple restoring trust after an affair, what do you think?
    TREBOR
    22nd Jan 2019
    8:42pm
    It's more often a case of the Damien Syndrome than the Jennifer Syndrome.... or you could look at a Kerryn Syndrome and run off with a woman, taking your husband's kids with you and then claiming to have children with your new 'partner'....

    Stolen Generation........
    Aussie
    22nd Jan 2019
    4:11pm
    Nothing at all will recover the relation the trust is gone and they will live looking over each other shoulders ..... snooping on the computer, phone messages following Him/Her ....all gone

    In my book if you decide to get married then that is it ..... fidelity until you die ..... If you are not prepare for that Do not get married .....

    Simple stuff Trust and communications are the most important in a relation all the rest is total bullshit counsellors ??? what in hell they know ...Nothing ... they get the couple together again and sooner or later the adventure cycle start again ..... Love ???? what is that after cheating ????? or Sorry I made a mistake .... No sorry's No Mistakes .....all gone Bye Bye ...start your life again by yourself and forget the past and be happy and live in Peace
    Missus P
    22nd Jan 2019
    4:19pm
    Yes, I agree, move on, life is short.
    Hardworker
    22nd Jan 2019
    5:06pm
    There you go Aussie, you actually agree with us. It doesn't matter who does the cheating it is not on within a marriage and no excuses, because that is what marriage is all about, being faithful to your partner. However sometimes the counsellors can help if the couple go to them early enough, before the damage gets done. Sometimes it can be difficult to see exactly what is going wrong when you are actually in the relationship and can be made a lot clearer by trained counsellors who are not involved in the relationship.
    Hoohoo
    22nd Jan 2019
    10:43pm
    Counseling is for the individuals, not the marriage. It helps sort out your issues & priorities. Good counselors get good results. It doesn't matter if the marriage breaks up if the spouses have good lives to lead (& they learn to treat each other with respect).
    So often though, the disloyalty & hurt caused by cheaters is irrepairable. Hatred & revenge only hurts the haters & those seeking revenge - best to start looking after yourself for a change & make your own happiness.
    Being married or unmarried is only a disaster if it ruins your life. I know a wonderful couple who broke up because of (his) infidelity. Breaking up was the best thing that happened to them & they are now very caring friends. So the kids are fine, too.
    TREBOR
    22nd Jan 2019
    8:39pm
    The way I see it, any woman foolish enough to think that anyone else is better, can just leave and go her own way. Many women have a problem with what is called 'monkey branching' - rather than settle on the good solid branch they are on, they figure they can do better by getting onto a higher branch with a different mate...

    Problem these days is that this kind of selfish, unthinking and often irrational behaviour is sacrosanct and backed by armed force from the courts and legislators and their poor long-suffering police.

    Easy solution to those who break homes and families - the one who desires to go out and 'find self' etc can leave the family home and family intact, and go their own way - while paying child support to the stayer....

    This nonsense of handing women the lioness' share has got to stop, given that they initiate over 80% of marital breakups....

    Go - become one with your inner nature - the kids and I will still be here doing what we always do - prospering mightily and getting ahead ... or at least we were until you rained down legislated fire upon us all...... in a reign of terror....
    Anonymous
    22nd Jan 2019
    8:42pm
    Sometimes , just sometimes, you make sense Trebor
    TREBOR
    22nd Jan 2019
    8:43pm
    I always make sense, Lothario - it's not my fault you wear blinkers propped up on your face by your ego...
    Hoohoo
    22nd Jan 2019
    10:56pm
    TREBOR, I agree that the person who works outside of the home furthering their career, (while their spouse is working a shitty, part-time or casual job, but still wiping the bums, cleaning the toilets & running the house & all the work that entails), that this person with a life outside & earning most of the money & superannuation, this person should support the children if the marriage breaks up. It shouldn't matter if this person is a woman or a man.

    The person who has been doing the majority of caring for the children should be automatically given custody to continue caring for the children, unless there's any suggestion of abuse.
    ABE
    23rd Jan 2019
    12:34am
    Maybe the Muslim men have it covered, have four wives and he hasn't got the energy for an affair.
    Hoohoo
    23rd Jan 2019
    8:03pm
    or just make husbands do the housework - that'll bugger them out fairly quickly (& lower their libidos, to boot!)
    OnlyDaughter
    23rd Jan 2019
    12:53am
    Some people never need a reason to cheat, and this applies equally to women as to men, although men do it for sex, whilst women generally do it for other reasons. They are just serial shaggers - there is nothing missing in their marriages, they just like to sleep around - and only time or illness will slow them down. I know of too many unfaithful men. My hairdresser's husband is one. He has cheated on her three times now....or at least three times he has been caught out, becomes penitent, and then does it again. He goes away to work in his trade in another city and immediately lists himself on Tinder to hook up, presenting himself as a 'separated man'. His wife adores him. She is absolutely beautiful. She is not an air-head and she is frequently pursued by other men, but remains faithful to her cheating man. He, on the other hand, is as plain as ditchwater, and in my book of hotties would barely be a 2. Obviously he must have hidden assets.
    Another guy I have known for years was so unfaithful to his wife, it was unbelievable. He is incredibly handsome and as security guard in a scenario allowing him to hook up with women, he was pulling a different woman a night, although he did have a number of affairs but even cheated on them as well as his wife. Eventually he and his wife parted company. He shacked up with a girl 3 years older than his eldest child and although they are together and I no longer keep in touch with his family, I know that old habits old die.
    My own brother is a serial shagger. He has been married twice and cheated on both. He lived with a lovely woman and cheated on her. He is the original good time - had by all.
    These are just three examples of dishonest spouses. So as far as people needing a reason to cheat, I laugh. An ongoing desire for 'new' sexual experiences and a desire for conquest come to mind.
    Many good books have been written about philandering and unfaithfulness and I doubt too many of them use 'something is missing in my relationship' as the reason, only the excuse for being caught out.
    Adrianus
    23rd Jan 2019
    7:59am
    Maybe the Sharia followers have the solution? Have 3 wives and if one of them misbehaves don't go to her bed?
    I'm of the opinion that far too much importance is placed on sex. Particularly by women.
    Hoohoo
    23rd Jan 2019
    8:07pm
    Oooh what a terrible punishment for not kowtowing to the husband/s will!

    Who knows what those multiple wives get up to together? Sexual satisfaction, perhaps?
    ex PS
    27th Jan 2019
    8:43am
    The penalty for having three wives? Three mothers in law. Hefty price to pay in my book.
    Hoohoo
    11th Feb 2019
    4:12pm
    And if it was the woman with three husbands then SHE'D have to put up with 3 sets of parents-in-law, too. What a nightmare!
    Would it be worse for the bigamous husband or the bigamous wife? I don't know but I reckon it would be a crap life for the 1/3rd wife or 1/3rd husband. The tyrant would always be able to wedge you out of power - you'd always be a minion & would be tempted to suck up, to receive favoured treatment.
    Hoohoo
    11th Feb 2019
    4:12pm
    And if it was the woman with three husbands then SHE'D have to put up with 3 sets of parents-in-law, too. What a nightmare!
    Would it be worse for the bigamous husband or the bigamous wife? I don't know but I reckon it would be a crap life for the 1/3rd wife or 1/3rd husband. The tyrant would always be able to wedge you out of power - you'd always be a minion & would be tempted to suck up, to receive favoured treatment.
    Sophie
    24th Jan 2019
    10:03am
    Infidelity is rarely just about sex according to a survey of over 5,000 people in the UK. Most of the participants men and women did not prioritise sex but stated lack of communication between partners as the main reason.

    An affair is generally a sign things aren’t right with someone’s relationship and without the necessary skills to heal whatever’s going wrong..a partner may engage in an affair in an attempt to get some of their needs fulfilled. From that point it snowballs and before you know it..divorce may be the only option left.

    I’ve read some of the comments of what people would do in this situation. To be honest having not been in such a position I don’t know what I would personally do. I feel sure however that I would lose a lot of trust in the relationship and chances are I may prefer to go off in the opposite direction.
    Bruce
    25th Jan 2019
    5:20pm
    hilarious comments, only one answer, QUIT
    ex PS
    27th Jan 2019
    8:38am
    Unless you can put it behind you and feel you can trust the other person, time to call it quits. Will you be able to walk past his phone and not think about checking for strange calls, can you resist scanning the Credit Card Bill for restaurant or motel charges?
    If you can't, you will live in misery whether your marriage stays in tact or not.
    No trust no, partnership. Maybe there is blame on both sides, maybe not, but if you can't forget and reset, how do you expect to be happy with the relationship again.
    I have been through it and went down the divorce path, it was horrible, but I met someone who is better than I deserve and we have been together for over 20 years. What I had was good for the most part, but it is nothing compared to what we have now.
    tex
    6th Feb 2019
    2:34pm
    Only daughter, with you all the way. of all the excuses reasons ,finger pointing , he said she said you are the only one who,s hit the nail on the head. Vickie, you go and have an affair , just to even things up, its happening all around us.


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