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April 09, 2009

MY PARTNER HAD AN AFFAIR AND NOW I’VE LOST ALL RESPECT FOR HIM/HER. IS IT POSSIBLE TO GET IT BACK?

On my Straight Talk Live call today one person asked, “Is it possible to ever respect your partner again after an affair.”  This was such an interesting question because, as the caller stated, most of the information about healing from an affair is about trust not respect.  The truth is the two often go hand in hand.

It’s very common for the betrayed partner to lose respect for the offending partner following an affair.  Common statements by betrayed partners include:

• “I just didn’t think my wife was that kind of person.”
• “He had everyone fooled, I guess.  I suppose his true colors finally came out.”
• “He’s not the person I thought I married.”
• “We obviously don’t have the same values anymore.  I can’t even bear to look at her.”

Although the wording may be different, the sentiment is the same --  “I’ve lost all respect for my partner.”  Many people struggle with this loss the most.  They just can’t seem to shake the feeling of disappointment or even disgust in their partner.  They may also feel a lot of shame about being with a person who would do that.

It’s important to note that these feelings are normal…and yes, you can gain back the respect you once had for your partner.  However, respecting your partner depends, in large part, on how your partner responds to being caught and goes about repairing the damage done.

If your partner shows little remorse, continues to lie, justifies the affair or refuses to discuss the affair at any length, then your respect will most likely remain where it was when you first found out about the affair.  There won’t be any change because your partner is not acting in a way that warrants respect.

Respect needs to be earned.  The recovery time for affairs ranges from three to five years…and that’s with the best of responses from the perpetrator.  The offending partner should be vigilant about honesty (being where supposed to be, coming home on time, no contact with affair partner, etc.), scrupulous about taking full responsibility for the affair and be patient and understanding when the non-offending partner has doubts, sadness or moments of distrust (Note: the non-offending partner needs to be respectful – but not toxic -- with these emotions).

If at least six months have gone by and your partner has been doing all the right things and you still don’t respect him/her, it may be too much for you to get past.  Remember, however, that we are all human and all make mistakes -- even the best of us.  Be careful to not sit in judgment of others with a cold heart and contemptuous mind.  This will not help you now or in the future.

If you’re struggling with this issue, take a look at how forgiving you are in general, and see if vindictiveness is your pattern. If it is, you would be wise to work on it.  If you tend to be fairly forgiving, but struggle with this particular instance, then it may just be too much.  There is no guilt in staying or going, as long as you make the decision from a centered, well-thought-out place.

CHALLENGE:  If you’re struggling with respecting your partner after an affair, figure out the culprit --  is it your partner’s poor attempts at healing it, your unhealthy self-righteousness, or just that it’s too much for you to get past?  If it’s your partner’s lack of repair, then your lack of respect is a healthy response.  If you struggle with forgiving anyone for anything – it’s you who are off and it’s you who will benefit from looking self-examination.  If you just can’t get past it, be honest with your partner and know that it’s okay to move on.

Comments

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Have you - (the women posting their experiences) made an attempt to figure out why your partners did what they did? Not saying being disloyal has a justificiation. But I have read on other blogs that in some cases those situationes arise from being not fully happy at home. and by that I mean, not getting enough sex.
Problem and even more devastiating would be if the disloyal partner had real feelings for the one having the affair with. I am not saying it would be justifiable if it was "only sex" but it would help for women to keep their spouses fully satisfied.

My wife is very upset with me because I had a short conversation on face book with a girl that I new 30 years ago and just became friends again on Face Book this past year. Since I was being sent messages on the inbox verses the wall for all to see, she is accusing me of having an affair and wants a divorce after 22 years of marriage. She is really moving forward with making her exit plan and this occurred over 5 weeks ago. I asked her to go to counseling and she said for what it is over. After all this time building what we had I am at a loss. We never fought in the past did everything together and have 2 great kids. I know she is hurt but I just do not feel it should end like this at all. Please help.

I tend to wonder if the pain ever goes away after betrayal. I pray everyday and I am beginning to think GOD is showing me this bad side to my husband for a reason. He refused to go for counseling and to talk about his 2 week old affair( they broke up as soon as I found out and he begged me to stay)choosing to be silent when I want to talk about the reason he strayed. It was utterly frustrating and I just gave up, detached and I don't care anymore. We are more of roommates than husband and wife. I don't enjoy this but I believe GOD will show the way forward.


Dear Jennifer: If your husband refused to get into counseling or to talk about the affair he is likely to repeat it. his refusal to discuss it or work on it means it will not heal. If God is showing you the way forward, remember that you have to listen and take action. Your e-mail reminds me of this story (http://www.ahajokes.com/reg28.html):

A religious man is on top of a roof during a great flood. A man comes by in a boat and says "get in, get in!" The religious man replies, " no I have faith in God, he will grant me a miracle."

Later the water is up to his waist and another boat comes by and the guy tells him to get in again. He responds that he has faith in god and god will give him a miracle. With the water at about chest high, another boat comes to rescue him, but he turns down the offer again cause "God will grant him a miracle."

With the water at chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and they tell him to get in, mumbling with the water in his mouth, he again turns down the request for help for the faith of God. He arrives at the gates of heaven with broken faith and says to Peter, I thought God would grand me a miracle and I have been let down." St. Peter chuckles and responds, "I don't know what you're complaining about, we sent you three boats and a helicopter."

Warm Regards,
Lisa

I found out my husbands been having an affair two weeks ago. It had been going on for 6 months mostly through messages on facebook that had mainly sexual content. It disgusts me, we were very happy and he is blaming work pressures but I am taking all the hits as we also have 2 small children and since finding out I have miscarried our third child. My world is shattered. He has told me he has cut off contact with her but he was sneaking out of work to meet her, so every day I wonder if he's been to visit her. We've been together for 12 years, I want to save my marriage but need to find some strength from somewhere, if there's another shock I think I'm going to break.

DEAR JULIE: I'm so sorry for your pain. My suggestion is you both get professional help to try to work on the devastating effects of affairs. It is a long road to healing and nearly impossible without help. A also recommend you read the book "Not Just Friends" as a great resource for recovering from an affair.

Take it one day at a time and make sure you are taking care of yourself through this. See friends, take time to yourself, journal etc. You will need the extra TLC.
Warm regards-Lisa

I found out that my husband had been sneaking behind my back once I received a notice about a change on my credit report. I'd had fraud before, so when investigating, I found out that he had opened a bunch of new accounts, got his own PO Box and taken money. This was a huge red flag and when confronted, he told me he was leaving the family. I couldn't afford to live with 2 kids on my own and ended up moving 150 miles to be closer to my family.

Over the following couple of weeks I found out that he had been running around with his ex girlfriend (I'm still foggy on how long it had been going on). He was very evasive about it and when confronted with questions all he would tell me was "I don't remember". He has finally been able to tell me bits and pieces.

He now wants to get back together realizing that he didn't know how great he had it til it was gone. I don't know if I can take him back. I'm so broken from all of this. A part of me wants to be back with him. But I wonder if that's only because its the one small familiar piece I have left.

I don't know if I can ever recover from this. I know it takes time, but I can't stop thinking about how I had to uproot my life and change everything I had going for myself because of selfish deceitful acts. I feel like such a complete moron. How could I not know what was going on? How could I be so blind?

I still don't feel like I'm getting the whole story even though he swears up and down that he's told me everything and promises over and over that it would never happen again.

This all came about because he was burned out on work. But when did "I hate my job" turn into "I'm leaving you?" I'm so confused...

Dear Betrayed: Tell him the only way you will consider this if if you both get into couples work. Getting past an affair is a 3-5 year process--and that's under the best of circumstances. Get professional help and see what he does. If he refuses, he's not sincere.
Warm regards-Lisa

Just to put my story up as someone may relate to it. My wife developed pre-natal and post-natal depression due to the birth of our son.She then developed an alcohol problem, attempted suicide multiple times.Most of these things I attribute to being abused when she was a child. While all these issues rockedour relationship I tried to remember she had an illness and that she was a victim. However she became violent so I left the home with the children. I still looked after her, brought her clothes into hospital and made food etc. What really got me was while in hospital she met a guy who she ended up having an affair with. I found out as I was fixing something in her house when his phone rang and I answered and she did not realise he left it behind. She spoke asking if i got home okay after last night not realising it was me,when she did she just hung up.She tried explaining it by saying it was an alcohol thing and she was only supporting him mentally and I would not understand. There was also messages on the phone saying she fell for him. I tried blocking it out and tried to get things back as they were. She never admitted it and I asked her not to contact him again however I then found she still was and seen a message that she was pregnant and miscarried nd he said he was sorry for the loss of their child.So what have I done? Well I was angry,vindictive as I wanted to punish her for what she had done to me, asked her for answers,(she still denies it or is not ready to admit it). What do I think for the future? Well I have not gained anything from the anger or questions, and qusetion do I really need for her to admit it as what will that do for me. I'm going to get counselling as realise I will end up going downhill myself if I don't deal with my issues and then I can move forward. I know this has not given answers about getting back together or learning to thrust your partner but maybe it may help to realise we are weak and need help.

Hello all...I thought I would make a post saying hey to everyone, This is a great week for me because the women of my dreams is coming down to meet for for the 3rd time, I met her on a friendly dating site, I can't wait because we are going to get maried very soon!

My husband had an affair shortly after we moved in together while we were still dating. It was with the girlfriend that he had just broke up with when we started dating. He took forever in telling her that he was dating someone else because it was just before the holidays and did not want to hurt her feelings or ruin her holidays for her or her little girl. He still went over to her house every Monday night while I was at work to do his laundry (she had his washer and dryer). I was fine until he kept making excuses not to tell her about me. He said my feelings counted but I really still have doubts. After three months (just after my bday - feb. 14) she showed up one night to surprise him and found out I was living there. I then found out they had slept together on Valentines Day (after he and I had spent the day together and had relations 3times that day). I never have gotten a real answer as to how long it had been happening or how many times. It has been 4 1/2 years and I still have trouble dealing with it, my bday is a source of sadness for me now. I have never stayed with anyone else that I even thought had or was cheating on me but he convinced me that he would stop seeing her (he did and got his washer and dryer back)and would never do that again. He gets upset if I bring anything about it or her up. There are still issues for me that were never discussed. I would really like to go to counseling but I think he would refuse, also he has trouble spending any kind of money. I still feel I have no self esteem and I used to and be a very forgiving person. Lately I notice that I am not as patient, forgiving, or kind as I used to be because of no self-esteem. I feel that I am at the end of my sanity, what do you suggest?

DEAR HEATHER: I'm sorry to hear about how hard this relationship has been for you. It sounds to me like you have a lot of unfinished business with this affair and you need help working through it. When this first happened, was your partner willing to talk openly about the affair, answer all your questions, make amends and do what ever it took for you to trust him again? If not, you will have lingering issues because the affair was never fully dealt with. If this is the case then you need to tell your partner that you're not able to move on from the affair without outside help. This is not about him wanting to go to therapy, it's about you being clear that you need both of you to go if things are to work out. If he refuses, that's not a good sign and I would worry about the relationship.

If on the other hand, your partner did all the things I mentioned and was very remorseful and open to having discussion about the affair for the first year then it's a different issue. You would then need to see if you're struggle is because you just can't forgive him and may never be able to move on (many people cannot so there's no guilt in this) or if it's that you're trying to punish him.

Take some time to see what the core issue is with this and that will determine your next move.
Regards-Lisa

My husband had an affair 2 years ago and I still struggle once in awhile with just being angry at him. Angry that every time I hear something about having an affair whether it is in the news or in a movie, I think about our situation. Angry that I have this new layer of worry all the time that he is deceiving me again. Angry that our marriage now has this black mark on it. Lately I've been really struggling. Should I put myself through this hurt or move on? But then I ask myself, would the pain be any less if I left?

Then I realize, I am married to a much different man than the one that had an affair on me. The guy I have now communicates with me. He can account for everything he does. There are no big gaping holes in his stories. And when I pull away, he reaches out to me to pull me back in instead of saying 'forget her' like he would have during the time he was having an affair. He has even quit looking at women on the computer which was a huge conflict in our relationship (that was a hard limit to set because it is so accepted in our culture).

I wanted to post this so women who are still struggling after years know that I think everyone does. Everyone quits talking about it, but the waves of doubt and anger remain. But if you have stayed, by year two, I hope you have a changed spouse on your hands too. Because I know I would be gone if my husband was not a changed man. I just wish every day that he could have changed without the affair having to have happened. But we can't have everything.

DEAR RACHEL: Thank you for sharing your story. It will be very helpful for other women to hear. I'm glad to hear that your husband has become a changed man since that should be a requirement for women to stay.
Regards--Lisa

I'm really struggling right now. I found out he's been seeing someone for about 2 years. He has cut off contact with (so he says) and has promised to get counseling. I have given him this one chance. I have also told him that if ANYTHING I don't like happens again it will be the end. I cannot however trust anything he says anymore, and kind of wish that I had ended it instead of giving him that chance. Am I obligated to keeping my word or should I just say "I changed my mind, I can't trust you anymore..get out"!

DEAR SUSAN: You are not obligated to stay. I do recommend however, taking a little time to let what happened sink in and not make any rash decisions out of hurt and anger. You may decide that you can't trust him and don't want to be in the relationship--which would be absolutely fine--however, it's best to make that decision with a calm head. You could also take some space, while you work in counseling, to assess where you're at and what you want to do. I recommend you get into therapy so you can process this an objective party.
Know that if you stay, it takes 3-5 years to heal from an affair. There will be a lot of emotions. Some couples cone out on the other side closer than ever and some couples realize they can't get past it. Just know that you have no obligation to stay.
Warm regards,
Lisa

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