#53 How Bad Was the Cheating?

Hello beautiful people, my name is Athol and this is Relationship Momentum.

Today I’m going to talk about a concept I’m starting to kick around inside of my own head. I’d love to get your feedback on it and if you think I’m missing something or it could be tweaked I want to know, leave a comment below.

When you’re trying to recover a marriage from an affair situation, it’s much easier to recover if it wasn’t that bad, compared to if it really was pretty bad. If it was deep, if it lasted a long time, then it becomes very, very difficult to fix. Not that I’m trying to make light of any affair situation but some go far deeper than others.

I’m wondering if it’s possible to create a tool, some sort of schedule or chart that’s going to quantify and qualify exactly how deep something was. So far I’ve got six different factors going into it.

 

Physical/Sexual Contact

The first one is just the level of physical and sexual contact. So if you can think of it like a one to ten scale, one being some sort of hand holding, incidental touch. Kissing is maybe a four. Full on vaginal penetrative sex a seven or an eight, and then really kinky, extreme stuff maybe eight to ten. Where everything else goes on that scale not quite sure but that’s kind of how I think of it. Obviously if your spouse has held hands with someone or kissed someone it’s not as bad as full on sex and it’s not as bad as super torrid crazy kinky sex.

 

Emotional Connection

The other factor that I could think of was emotional connection. Certainly some really intense relationships may never turn sexual, but you can certainly have an emotional affair. Thinking of it as a one to ten scale again. One is pretty incidental connection; three or four that it’s growing somewhat more. I think if you’re hitting a six or a seven there are some sort of exchanges of I love you or you’re important to me, and ten being they really are super important, more important than their spouse.

 

Length of Affair

The third thing I can think of is just the length of the affair. If it’s something where they met someone for just a day or a weekend or it’s the sort of one night stand-y sort of thing, than would be far harder to break than something that has lasted weeks, months or even years. And there’s certainly been some affairs that I’ve come across that have lasted a decade or more and those are incredibly difficult to unpick and put right compared to something that lasted a day or two, or a week or two.

 

Level of Deception

The fourth thing that I can think of as being a factor is the lying, the level of deception. At the low end of the scale, that’s simple things like changing your passwords and hiding your phone and not necessarily volunteering information. Three, four, five some sort of real lying. Some sort of I’m going to be here, instead I’m over there. Continuing to hide the affair, continuing to cover it up, continuing to gaslight your affair partner, that could be six, seven, eight.

I’ve even seen some things that are super, super extreme when it comes to lying. I’ve come across situations where the person that was cheating invented an entire business conference that they went to. Complete with flyers mailed to them to get their wife to say this was a really good idea that they go, and they just flew out of town to be with the affair partner. So you can see there’s a whole scale between completely fabricating stuff compared to little white lies and fudging some details. The worse the lying is, the harder it is to unpick.

 

Money Spent

The fifth factor that I can think of is money. How much money was spent on the affair situation. Obviously low end if it is a couple of bucks to meet him for coffee or a movie ticket or parking, whatever. Not as bad as starting to drop hundreds of dollars on dinners, not nearly as bad as dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars on hotels. Is there buying gifts? Is there buying vacations? There’s a whole scale of things.

I think you also have to hold it in context compared to the level of income of the people. For some people dropping $100,000 on an affair partner may not be as much of their income as someone dropping $1,000 on an affair partner. I think the level of money, just the resources diverted from the primary relationship, I think that’s a factor.

 

Long-Term Consequences

The sixth one, and this is sort of a catch all and somewhat random, I think some affairs can have some really serious, nasty long term consequences that may or may not be kicking in. I’m talking about things like STDs, pregnancies, have people moved out of the house, how public is it? I think some of these things are potentially really significant. I mean obviously once you thrown in a pregnancy into an affair situation, it is so much harder to deal with compared to one where there isn’t. And things like STDs, I mean just having the disease can cause some long term negative effects.

 

Summary

If you look at those six factors as a one to ten scale of not quite so bad to really terrible, I think you’ll have a better idea of just how much impact an affair has. So quickly recapping: How much was the sexual contact? How much was the emotional connection? How long did it last? How deep was the level of deception to pull this off? How much money got poured into it? And are there random, serious long-term consequences that you’re always going to have to deal with?

There are no easy affairs to fix, but there are certainly ones that are easier than others. So that’s just a tool that I have sort of kicking around inside my head to just sort of qualify things. I would love to know your feedback, whether or not I’ve missed anything or you think something could be tweaked or added.

And that’s about it. I hope you enjoy the video. Please like, share, comment, subscribe and all that good internet stuff. And I will talk to you tomorrow.

 

Edit: YouTube comment suggesting adding a 1-10 scale for “Number of Affair Partners”. Because obviously (!) two affairs are worse than one affair.

#49 Fair Warning Before Cheating

Hello beautiful people, my name is Athol and this is Relationship Momentum.

So today it’s a Tuesday so beginning of my week. I’m having a lot of coaching calls today and I’m somewhat frazzled and burnt from the amount I’ve done today. I kind of want to talk about the calls in very, very general senses because the calls today very much fell into two distinct groups.

The first group, if you could think of the relationship problem as being like a house, they’re coming to me where their houses need a whole bunch of sort of cosmetic work. Okay work on your fitness, dress better, use a little game. Also they had some structural problems with the house. Okay we have some cracks in the foundation. We need to work on the roof. We need to fix this wall. Maybe this house needs to be a little bigger. These are all fixable and workable and there’s a process but there’s some real hope. I often see genuine progress relatively quickly as the cosmetic and structural stuff is worked on.

On the other group of calls that I had, you see that same thing of needing cosmetic work and some structural work, but there’s also an affair situation. That’s like the house is also on fire. So it needs a new roof AND it’s on fire.

Now I’m not saying that affair situations can’t be fixed and you can’t come back from them because you certainly can. It’s a long road but you can. But the level of complexity, the level of difficulty, stress and drama is so much greater once you throw an affair situation into the mix.

I can look at my calls today and if I could switch the affair situation from this guy to that one, I think we would probably see a similar level of success in getting things fixed.

I feel like I’m everybody’s Jiminy Cricket moralizing here, but if you’re faced with a choice in your relationship where you can cheat, you have to know that you’re rolling the dice on your relationship ever being fixable. You may be making the decision to if not end your marriage, to certainly really cripple your marriage for potentially years. For something that’s going to perhaps last one night, or a week, or a month or whatever it is. So before you make that choice to do that, before you want to escalate to that position, you really have to think. Because like I say the situations are fixable, but the level of difficulty just goes up, and there’s so much more work and expense and time and effort into fixing things.

Before you cheat, before you have an affair with someone, it is totally in your best interest to run up the flag, shout as loud as you can, really upset the apple cart to get your partner’s attention that you’re not happy in the relationship. Give them one big fair warning shot across the bow. That might work and it might not, but I think it’s certainly worth a shot.

So that’s about it. Like I say marriages and relationships, they can be fun, they can be wonderful. We all face temptations now and then, we just don’t have to escalate it to cheating. That’s a bout it. I’m having a busy, productive day. I hope you’re having a busy, productive day too. And we will talk tomorrow.

The One About Missed Signals and Cheating

Hello beautiful people. My name is Athol, YouTuber talking about marriage. relationships and getting what you want from them.

In this episode I’m going to talk about missed signals and how important to realize you’re missing a signal. I’m going to tell it from the worst case scenario perspective.

I want you to understand, this is from the point of view of someone that has now been dealing with marriage, relationships and affair busting situations on the internet since mid-2009. I first started really delving into this stuff on a forum called Talk About Marriage in mid-2009. I started my blog about it in January 2010 and I had a forum myself there for about four years as well. There is a really, really predictable pattern with what happens when people come to internet forums or go searching online for this stuff. You’re not likely to see it unless you’ve been watching this stuff for just years on end. So this is from the perspective of someone who’s been watching this for eight years.

And by way if example I’ll do this from the guy’s perspective as I’m most familiar with that, obviously men cheat too.

 

Stage One – Some Red Flags

When a guy first comes to the internet, goes to a forum, where ever it is, or a Reddit, and they start saying to this group of people like I can see that there are some red flag situations with what my wife is doing. Now she’s locked her phone, or she has some sort of missing time that is unaccounted for, or she’s suddenly dressing better, or she shaved her vagina for no reason or whatever it was.

Then of course everyone in the group goes, oh my god dude, she’s totally cheating on you. She’s totally cheating. You have to jump on this immediately. And the guy says, no no not my wife, that couldn’t happen. It’s just some red flags. And then he goes away and this period could last a week or a month or whatever.

Stage Two – It All Blows Up

Then he comes back and says oh my god you guys were totally right. You were totally right. She’s totally cheating. I hacked her email. I can see all the emails between her and the other guy. I put a voice activated recorder in her car. I can now hear her talking about this stuff. I found hotel receipts. She’s totally cheating.

Then of course it all blows up into some sort of confrontation thing where it shakes out in one way or the other, either she breaks off the affair and confesses or she doesn’t and goes, or whatever it is. That’s pretty much that second stage when everything blows up when it’s discovered.

 

Stage Three – It All Shakes Out Slowly

Then there’s a third stage where it can last a number of month,s or a year or two,  as the whole thing really does shake out after that initial blowup period. It’s a roller coaster of ups and downs. Is she going to go back to this guy? Are we ever going to forgive each other? Are we going to move forward? Can we rebuild? Are we getting divorced? Are we going to marriage counseling. It’s a very long slow process. It may end in divorce or it may not.

And then often at that point the guy kind of drops off the website. He really doesn’t necessarily go as much. Or maybe he keeps going. Either way it doesn’t really matter.

 

Stage Four – Admission of Missed Signals

Then there’s this fourth stage to this, where, and it could be a year, it could be 18 months, it could be two years later where it really has all shaken out. The dust has settled and then there’s some point that this guys comes back and says yeah I came here, it was all discovered, it all blew up and then this is what happened.

Then he says something like, but you know in fairness, there were those times three or four years before she had the affair where she wrote me all those letters saying how unhappy she was in the relationship. There was the time that she took off her wedding ring and just cried in the bathroom for an hour. There was the time where she left and went to live with her mother for a week. There was all these times that she asked for marriage counseling.

There are all these missed signals pre-dating the affair situation by months, years. And it’s a really sad and tragic thing to think that perhaps if some of these missed signals were picked up on, they were followed up on, they were taken seriously or the guy knew what he could do or should do or had some sort of tools to deal with the situation then when the situation was just bad, maybe this whole affair thing could have been avoided.

 

Excuses vs. Explanations

I know there are no excuses for the moral boundary crossing of cheating on someone. There are no excuses for having the affair. But let me tell you as someone that’s been doing this for eight years, there’s always, always some kind of explanation of the environment and the story arc that got to this point.

If you’re only looking at just the affair itself, it’s like only watching the last three minutes of a two hour movie. There’s story that happened before then. You were just looking at the explosive highlight at the end. There’s always a story arc. There’s always a progression. There’s always some sort of explanation of how we got here, which is why mixed signals are just so freaking sad.
So, yeah, I guess that’s kind of a bleak one, but that’s the reality. If you’re missing signals you’ve got to pick up on them, because at some point the signals stop…

… and that’s really bad.

The Unholy Trinity that can Doom Affair Recovery

Hi there, my name is Athol and in this video I’m going to talk about what I’m starting to call the Unholy Trinity, a constellation of three factors that when I see it, I shake my head and step back and go this situation is not fixable.

And do bear in mind that many affair situations are fixable, but these three factors together as the Unholy Trinity are so worrisome.

 

1. No Early Attraction

At the start of the relationship there was not a whole lot of attraction, not a whole lot of sex, not a whole lot of passion, stemming from the partner who ended up having the affair. So one half of the couple can be really into their partner, the other half of the couple is just kind of feeling flat, and they still get married anyway. That low water mark of interest at the time of marriage is something I’ve mentioned before as a red flag.

 

2. The Affair is Particularly Intense

All affairs tend to be intense experiences, but this affair is really deep and particularly torrid. They are doing all kinds of crazy sexual stuff with their affair partner that they pretty much never did with their spouse. It can be an over-the-top movie-like sexual experience affair, or when it ends they have almost a complete freaking breakdown. So basically the key point is the affair itself is insanely emotionally intense compared to their relationship that they’ve had.

(edit: note that a discovered affair coupled with a very dramatic crying spell of several hours is normal and a GOOD sign. A breakdown of several days is a BAD sign)

 

3. Cold as Ice

Once the affair is discovered, the affair is stopped, there is no real progress with the marriage and the couple despite attempts to improve things. The spouse that had the affair is now just devolving into a completely jaded, withdrawn, “ice princess”, unaffected, cold, distant interaction with their partner. They can be polite and courteous, but no warmth or interest in connection.

 

The Three Factors Together

So, (1) they weren’t really interested at the beginning, (2) the affair was super intense, (3) once it’s discovered they just go into this icy super low interaction with their partner.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a relationship recover when I’ve seen those three factors together. I’ve seen them survive. I’ve seen them go through the motions. I’ve seen them stay together and there may not be any kind of abuse or there may not be any kind of major blowups, it may all be very sociable, but I’ve never seen any sense of passion and excitement inject itself back into the marriage. They are now just going through the motions and treading water and that’s all it is and I think all it will ever be.

Compare that to an affair situation where you can say, hey look, back at the beginning of the relationship it was really good. We had seven really good years and two crappy ones and the affair happened in year nine and we can see some explanations of why it happened. Plus the person is genuinely apologetic and wants to get back together and work on things and is trying to reach out and re-establish trust. Well there’s a reasonable degree of hope there.

But when there was no interest from the beginning and the affair was just super intense and then when they’re caught it’s just this ice princess completely jaded, no interaction thing. I’ve never seen it get better. So this may be harsh, but I think when you see that you just have to accept the relationship was never there from the beginning. It will be really hard in the short term, but probably your best chance of happiness is calling it quits and trying to have some sort of amicable divorce and trying to find someone who will actually love you.

So on that sort of sad, down, jaded note, realistic. I will catch you next time.

Medication Issue, or Wife Just Not Interested?

Hi there, this is Athol and this is an Ask Athol Anything episode. If you have a question for me you can send it to askatholanything@gmail.com and it can be potentially part of the show. Let’s just jump to today’s question.

This was very long, it was like two and a half pages when I got it so I’m just going to give you the bullet points of the highlights of it. There was a lot of context here.

Her family was prejudiced against the relationship from the start. No issues except lack of sex from the start, and the little sex that they had she just lay there and sex was about every two months. (Now if you follow my stuff you know that I’m already thinking that is a massive, super massive, giant red flag.) She has a history of childhood trauma, some domestic violence and emotional abuse, potentially sexual but he didn’t know if that was true. They have two small kids together. I think they were like three and two. Wife had severe post-natal depression. She’s been on antidepressants since the birth of their second kid. In September her behavior suddenly changed a great deal. He discovered her affair in October. She says it was just a crush but he kind of doesn’t believe that. When it was caught or the affair fell through or whatever it was, she had a three day breakdown crying, couldn’t get off the couch. (That to me is also a really bad sign.) Some sort of break down or crying when an affair is discovered is pretty normal. Three days is excessive. “She now says she feels nothing for me. Acting like a total ice queen. Prior to this we were really close and she told everyone how much she loved me, etc.” Also back in the past about seven, eight years ago there was a one night stand with a work colleague. She told him about it and she was super distraught and apologetic. She has a super conservative religious family background. Still considers him an excellent father just has no feelings for him.

The question being is there some possibility that the SSRI medications she is on, are the reason she’s doing all of this, and her family and friends were thinking this was a possibility too. So that’s the question, is it medication induced or is it something else, and then what does he need to do from here.

Alrighty, so here’s my answer. And it’s not a whole bunch of good news to be honest. My hunch is that she’s just been struggling with a complete lack of real attraction or interest from the beginning.

It seems like she certainly valued you for your safety and security, and your general kindness and ability to parent. She’s valued you in this way, but that whole lack of sex and certainly that lack of interest in her having any kind of sex other than her just laying there, that’s just a major, major red flag.

I think she’s been advertising to all and sundry that the relationship has been good in part to smoke screen it and send that message out, but also in part to convince herself that everything is fine and she’s made this good decision to be with you.

Now the antidepressants themselves, yes indeed they really can cause mood changes, loss of attraction and cause erratic behavior and people to do all sorts of wild and crazy things. This is absolutely part of the potential side effects for these meds. But when I look at the history, yes she started acting erratically now, but it’s not aligned to when she started on the meds. Also she certainly has a whole bunch of behavior before the medication that’s really concerning. So I get the feeling that the medication may have played some role, but certainly her interest in her affair partner has pulled the veil off the illusion of the narrative that she’s been telling to you, her family, and herself all this time. That whole three day breakdown thing is a really big red flag as well because it, to me it means she was super interested and attracted and that was very real to her, and maybe not so real with you. So I don’t get the feeling it’s a sudden change of behavior I just get the sense it’s this sudden unveiling of the truth.

Perhaps the best example I can give for this are the cases where people who have done things like running gay conversion therapy clinics for a decade or more, and then it turns out in the end that they are in fact gay themselves. They had this whole narrative of anti-gay, but behind that they were actually gay the whole time. They didn’t suddenly turn gay.

So I think she’s just not been into you. She’s not been interested in the marriage. She’s made this conscious choice and settled and she’s had to advertise to herself as much as anyone that this is all good. I also suspect that this is part of the thing that’s going on with her family too. They were against you at the beginning, and then you guys got married, and now they are for the relationship. They might have seen some of the red flags early on and wanted to not have it happen, but now that you guys are married and there are two little kids and they think she’s going off the rails, they’re all certainly going to want you to stay in her life. Being completely honest, they likely think she might need a backup plan, some sort of safety net, and currently you’re the guy. So it’s logical that her family would you to stay committed to her.  It’s always a little hard to trust the other person’s parents and friends as to how much on your side they can truly be. They are almost always on your partner’s side, which is fine, why shouldn’t they be? But it’s hard to know sometimes whether they are fully acting in your interest as much as your partner’s.

Without knowing anything more about the affair in terms of what I was sent, it’s very hard to draw conclusions about how it started, how it was discovered, who the guy was, all that sort of stuff. I suspect there’s probably more to it than you’ve discovered or realized or found or she’s confessed to. That whole three day breakdown, crying, can’t get off the couch routine means it was significant. There’s far more than just a crush happening there. She’s probably reached this place where she can’t carry on the script where she’s this happily married woman and everything is fine.

Which is why she’s gone to this ice queen mode of yes I like you for your parenting but I have no other feelings for you. So you have to accept that at this point the marriage is probably over. She is probably not going to have any great revelation and want to come back. You have to find yourself a decent lawyer and start really planning ahead in terms of if this relationship is going to fail what do I need to do to protect myself, represent myself, and try and get the best out come for both of us and definitely the children.

Simply because the marriage is over doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can have a peaceful end as opposed to a very dramatic one. I just get the sense that she’s done, and she probably deeply regrets getting married. This was probably a choice that made sense at the time but turned out to be harder than she thought. It’s the combination of (1) no particular interest in sex at the beginning, (2) that horrific three day crying spell when the affair was discovered, and now (3) the ice princess thing, that worries me.

I’ve now seen this style of scenario quite a few times. Once the lid is torn off and it’s really shown for what it is, they never really want to continue on with the relationship. It’s usually a slow death spiral from that point. So I think you’ve kind of got to lawyer up, accept the end, and play it through from there. I know that’s just not what you wanted to hear but I think it is the truth.

So anyway, all pretty sad. I’m going to leave it there. Feel free to like, comment, subscribe and all that good internet stuff.

And I will catch you next time.