This letter is the first part of a series of letters written by betrayed women about staying or leaving after being cheated on. Each letter explains their reasons for staying or leaving after discovering their partner was cheating on them. If you have just discovered infidelity, you're not alone. Many wives have had to make this tough decision of either staying or leaving after infidelity.
Why She Stayed After Betrayal...
In this letter Cynde, a betrayed wife, explains why she chose to stay in her marriage and what she did in the aftermath of infidelity. She considers and discusses the importance of safety and working to rebuild a new marriage after infidelity. Below is her original story, and then updated in red a year later.
Someone once asked me, Why do you stay?
After some thought, this is what I discovered for myself.
I stay because...
I CHOOSE TO! ME, not us, not our kids, not him...ME. This hasn’t changed. I do not regret staying for me. There is a lot that has changed though in our story.
After 36 years of marriage, at the time of D-day1, I can only say that I stay because I still love this very flawed man. This July we will be at 40 years of marriage 42 years together. He is still a flawed man but I have come to understand that I too am a flawed being. That was hard to come to terms with honestly, I thought of myself as practically perfect in every way…lol…Only Mary Poppins can fill that space.
I stay because he is doing the work. So much work, and I have not made it easy. One of the things that was important to our healing was that I needed him to understand that something that he sees as innocent, a woman sees differently. I needed him to stop thinking as he had in the past and start thinking about what message he is sending, even innocently, when he interacts with women, even the casual contact like store clerk or grocery worker. I needed him to truly look at how his kindness could be interpreted, by a hurting woman, as interest. He has done that work. He has begun to see how he pimped tenderness with his affair partners. He also acknowledged his need to be a “Hero”. He had created a world within our marriage where I was pretty independent. He missed being needed. That was a huge discovery. I now make a point to show appreciation and gratitude on a regular basis. It sounds silly but I want him to know that I need him still.
I stay because I will honor MY vows even if he failed to do that. I do not regret honoring my vows. As I look back, the vow was between myself and God and that was important for me to accept.
I stay because I am healing myself through self-care. After a full 18 months of self-care I have discovered that not only am I healing from the infidelity but that doing my own work has given me the tools to deal with so many different types of disappointment and betrayal in life.
I stay because I believe I am called to stay. Even though I have a biblical "out", I want to honor my marriage covenant even if my husband did not.
There are six basic concerns most humans deem necessary to feel safe, in a relationship, that you may want to ponder.
1. Physical safety - Ask yourself if you are safe in this relationship physically. Are you threatened, injured, or being asked to do anything that would be detrimental to your physical well-being? I am safe. This has not changed. I am physically safe in this relationship.
2. Psychological safety - Is my partner blaming me, gaslighting me, or expecting me to "get over it" while he does not work on his healing? No, I am safe in this aspect. This has gotten even better as my husband has done his own work. The deeper he dug into his own behaviors and how those look from a woman's perspective the more understanding he became when I was triggered by an action in the present time.
3. Practical safety - From a practical point, a place to live, food, health care if desired etc.; are you safe? Yes, I am.
4. Financial safety - Am I safe financially in this marriage? This is a tough one for me. His financial choices, I have always been a homemaker, have cost him a lot financially and in a bigger way, as part of my trust and financial safety and how I view him in this area. I am about 75% feeling financially safe at this point, and he is working to change that to 100%. That will continue to cause pain to some degree until things are resolved. This has improved to 100%. I am included in every aspect financially. Truly for the first time in our entire marriage.
5. Sexual safety - Am I safe sexually in this marriage? For example: is he still physically involved with Someone else, is he having unprotected sex, do I feel pushed into sex acts that I am not comfortable with? (this line of questions). I am safe in this regard. Yes, I am still safe. However, I view what makes me feel safe a little differently now than a year ago. My own self-esteem has allowed for a different kind of safety.
6. Emotional safety - Are my feelings, hurts, pains, and questions safe within this marriage? In other words, does he respect my right to my feelings, and is he respectful of my questions no matter how uncomfortable HE feels when being asked. I would say I am 85% there. I feel there are still "secrets," which he has with each of them that he claims he honestly can't even remember because he has worked so hard to release the past. I am working on that as well. I rely on my friendships for most of my emotional happiness. Sad, but true. I love my H. I will be here forever, I enjoy his company, and we have fun together. But I do not trust him with my emotional health yet. He has done so much listening and really working to understand how so many things now can be so triggering for me. Things that never before in the past would have caused me to bat an eye. He makes an honest attempt to be present with me at all times when we are out in public. He shows me daily that he is grateful that I chose to stay and work and pray for not just us but for him. I feel about 97% now.
So, for me, I feel secure and safe in 4 out of 6 areas. And I see improvement in the other 2. That is what keeps me moving forward 2 1/2 years from D-day 1, (4 total), all discovery no disclosure. He's working on that too. We are now 3 years 8 months and 9 days out. I am comfortable saying that I feel safe in all 6 areas. Trust is still being earned.Mistakes still happen and I can, as you will read later, still be triggered without warning. But, I feel pretty good right now.
I have found people from Affair Recovery who fill me up in the emotional area so much. My Emergency Marriage Seminar gals (we meet weekly via whereby.com), still supporting each other weekly, my Harboring Hope gals (we meet twice a month via zoom.com for a book club), still working through so much of life together, and I found a course on thebetrayedwife.com that helped me work on self-care (we meet via Google Meet weekly). Totally and completely about ME! I am now working through my 3rd program from thebetrayedwife.com. This one is on Mindfulness and I am loving it so much only 2 lessons in. I recently had a major loss. A friendship that was 27 years old ended. I am still processing this but what I have learned from these courses has allowed me to care for myself and process so much quicker and come to an acceptance that sometimes life doesn’t go as we think it should.
Affair Recovery was our lifeline. I spent 22 months begging him to go to counseling; he was too busy. One night he made a flippant remark that if I found one online, he would do it...WELL! Thank-you Covid19, AR's EMS weekend had gone virtual! We were signed up the next day, and I made him press the button to attend. Eighteen days shy of 2 years from D-day1, we were on an EMS virtual weekend. THOSE I see as God moments. God timed every discovery, every minute that I stayed, when I no longer wanted to even live, was a God moment for me. I have met some very strong, brave, and amazing women on this journey—each one I view as God's gift to me for being brave.
My lifeline, and the greatest gift I gave myself, was taking a course from thebetrayedwife.com. I had spent so much time and energy on my husband's healing and healing my marriage that I had left out the most important person, ME! The self-care course I took has given me back so much—self-esteem, self-awareness, self-forgiveness, mindfulness, and peace. I could go on and on. Let's just say I got me back. And I feel stronger and more confident than I have felt in decades! The more I work with The Betrayed Wife the stronger and more confident I feel. I just improve with age…lol
The thing that got me through the roughest times, I am a Christian, was prayer. I didn't start out praying for my marriage, though. I started out praying for my husband's heart, mind, body, and soul to be healed. (in my opinion, God took his own sweet time repairing that, and it took longer than I wanted it to take..lol) I knew that for my husband to do what he was doing, a dark spot had taken hold of him and was alive and well in there. Thriving and feeding on every secret, lie, and deception. My biggest fear was that he would be lost. I thank God that I can say, my husband has been completely healed. Heart, mind, body, and soul.
Some may discover that their marriage can't be repaired, no matter their prayers, and they will choose to move on alone. That is a gift as well and, in my opinion, may take more strength than staying.
I got the book Power of a Praying Wife and began reading that and spending about 30-45 minutes a day in concentrated prayer. When we moved back in together, I left my job in CO to do that, we began just a bedtime prayer together. Superficial at first, but my how that has grown, so amazing. Not always consistent, but man, have they become powerful.
Something I asked my husband to do, and under the guidance of our therapist, he did, was to write a letter to each of his AP's (2) telling them how he felt about his relationship with them NOW. It was so therapeutic for me when he read them to me. I still have the letters, and when I am feeling angry or scared about the past, I will take them out and read them just to remind myself of how he feels TODAY, not how he felt then. This changed a bit. I did end up mailing these out. I needed these women to see in his words how he now felt. How his own opinions had changed about them. It was a gift I gave myself. AP 2 had been trying to contact him about every 6-8 months. We have not heard from her in any way now for over 15 months. That letter was the end of her hanging onto the past and what she thought existed but never was.
There is a quote that I love:
"Grief, I've learned, is just love. It's all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go"
This is how I view my pain. Sad that for so long, I had no place for my love to go. I feared giving it to a man who I couldn't trust, who had broken my heart. I feared that his words, in the beginning, were true, that I was to blame, I had "forced him to do it", I was not. I had to give my love and trust to God. A being I could not even see. That began to change my faith, trust, and hope for my marriage, as well as bringing me closer to the one who would never abandon me. And as a bonus, I found a deeper connection to myself in doing the work of self-care. As my Haboring Hope group met today we discussed how Grace has gotten us this far on our journey. I stated the following: As I look back at what has happened in the last 3 plus years, I wonder sometimes if God had tried to reach me and I wasn’t really embracing Him. My life was good enough so my relationship with Him was what I will call average. I wonder if what happened had to happen to bring ME closer to God. Infidelity brought me to my knees, literally, in prayer. I didn’t have a choice except to trust God because I had no trust in my husband. That relationship with God has grown stronger and stronger even though my prayers have changed.
May you find your own reasons "why" staying is important to you. And if you have found a reason why you can’t stay, that is important too. Whatever you choose, may you find peace in your decisions.
I am happy with my choice to stay and fight. And there was a lot of fight. There were many times I wanted to walk away. Many times I wanted to give up. All of it has brought us to today. A marriage that is better in communication than ever in our past. A husband who has embraced his own shame and guilt and worked hard to heal me. A me that has grown so much in my relationship with God, my husband, but most importantly myself. This past Christmas my husband proposed to me again. I said yes. A week later I threw that ring in his mashed potatoes because he had made a choice that triggered fear in me. We talked and worked through that fear in me and his own bad choice. I know he immediately saw his mistake. He honored me by not making fun of me and we talked through a lot. I thought I was past that fear but his honest error threw me into a panic so quickly I know I still have my own work to do. Another thing that has changed is that he now knows that he can not have an “innocent” relationship with a female. Not for fear of doing it again but out of respect to me because of his past. He has made the choice to not put himself in that position again.
If you are still struggling, if your relationship is still struggling, or if you are doing this journey alone because your partner just doesn’t get it. I urge you to reach out for help. Take care of YOU. Give yourself the gift of a program to help you move forward on this journey no matter what course you take.
Yours on this journey, still here on this journey,
We all have our own personal healing journey to take after infidelity. I hope that Cynde's story inspired you onward in your journey toward healing from your partner's betrayal. Please read the next letter in this infidelity series, Should I Leave After Being Cheated On.
Your story is important too. Please contact me if you would like to submit your story about why you stayed or left after infidelity so that the other women on this site can be encouraged on their journey.
And please do leave Cynde a message in the comments below. She has been very brave in sharing her reasons for staying after infidelity.
Your letter brings me so much comfort, something that others also experience and l feel that l am not alone
Thank you so much for the kind comment. It is so important for all of us to know that there are so many of us on the same journey! Blessings and love as you travel this road. It may be hard but you are never alone.
Thank you for sharing. I can totally relate to your experience. It has been 2 years for me since the discovery. I’m still learning to forgive. It’s not easy. But, the strange thing is I feel I love myself more and stronger (although the pain is always there). I still question myself everyday… stay or go… the affair is definitely over but being with him is a reminder of the pain. He tried… but I need time to find the answer
Shelly-I apologize that I am just seeing your comment. I pray that you are still healing as you travel this road on your journey. I have discovered that forgiveness isn’t a one time thing for me. It is layers. As I heal or process something from the past I have found that I may need to revisit forgiving my husband OR forgiving myself. This is a process and a journey that isn’t defined by time. It is one that we each must go on at our own pace. The greatest gift I gave myself in all of this is the gift of taking a self-care course. It was just over 2 years from D-day 1 that I took the time to take care of me. I have no regrets other than I wish I had done it sooner. Yours on the journey-