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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

The 5 Types of Apologies Cheaters Use

They’re been caught cheating. Or, they decided to come clean about the affair. Some of the first words out of their mouth are,

I’m sorry.

You want desperately to believe those words, to believe that they feel true remorse for the pain they have caused you. Yet, past event shave also proven to you that they will lie.

As you suspect, there may be more to their apology than meets the eye.

Here are five types of apologies that cheaters may use:

 

1 – I’m sorry that I got caught.

They are not sorry they did it, they are simply sorry that they have been found out. Often this sort of apology presents with irritation and comes off as insincere. Instead of making changes to end the affair and reinvest in the marriage, they instead double down on their efforts to hide their indiscretions. They may blame you for snooping, their friends for being busybodies or the affair partner for not being careful.

 

2 – I’m saying sorry to try to smooth things over.

Nobody likes others to be upset with them or disappointed in them. This is even true for cheaters. So they apologize, not because they are truly sorry, but because they don’t like having this discord at home. They hope that they can placate with their verbal amends so that you will no longer respond with anger, rejection or sadness towards them. Pay attention to what surrounds the apology. Are they using gifts or physical touch in an attempt to calm or distract you? Also, a sign of this sort of apology is that it is only expressed when your emotions are running high.

 

3 – I’m sorry that you’re upset.

This one has some empathy to it. They see that you’re in pain and they don’t like to see you hurting. The problem here is that there is a disconnect between their actions and your feelings and they are failing to take responsibility for their part in causing you pain. This sort of apology usually presents with other selfish patterns of behavior. Even though they don’t like to see you hurt or inconvenienced, their own desires always take precedence.

 

4 – I’m saying sorry in an ongoing attempt to manipulate the situation.

When this type of apology is used, it comes with the expectation of a particular outcome. They are saying they are sorry with the caveat that you are no longer allowed to bring up their transgressions or that you will not threaten to leave. Look out for guilt trips and gaslighting as they try to turn this around to be about you.

 

5 – I am truly sorry for what I have done.

When people are truly sorry, their language will reflect that. Instead of speaking in third person or generalizations (“When the affair happened”), they use “I” statements to demonstrate ownership (“When I crossed the line into an affair”). They take responsibility for their actions and refrain from blaming you, the affair partner, or outside factors, even while accepting that other variables may have had an influence on their decisions. Another sign of a genuine apology is that they are taking the initiative and not expecting you to help them regulate their own emotional responses.

True remorse is expressed with no strings attached. They say it and then give you the space to do with it what you choose.

Finally, an authentic apology always comes with changed behavior. Because without that, it is simply another empty promise.

And if you didn’t get an apology, this post is for you.

Why I’m Not Anti-Divorce (Even Though I Hate It)

Divorce was the last thing I ever wanted in my first marriage.

Yet, in hindsight, I wish that my husband had asked for a divorce.

Because a divorce would have far easier – and more honest –  than what transpired.

 

If he had asked for a divorce, I would have been gutted. There is no easy way to accept the end of a relationship when it’s not what you want. It’s natural to beg, to cry, to rage in attempt to change the outcome, to somehow MAKE them want to stay.

But that one-sided attempt never really works.

If they want out, if their mind is made up and they are not willing or able to make an effort at repair, it’s often best to let them go.

 

From my perspective now, I would rather face divorce than have a partner who is only with me out of a sense of obligation or guilt. I want to be with somebody that chooses me every day (especially on the hard days when we don’t especially connect). Anything else only leads to resentment.

I would rather face divorce than have an unhappy partner that is using affairs to try to fill the void they feel. I would rather be left in plain sight than cheated on behind my back. The pain from betrayal is unparalleled.

I would rather face a divorce sooner than abandonment down the road when the pretense becomes too much for my partner to uphold. They both result in a feeling of rejection, but abandonment makes it much harder to learn how to trust again.

I would rather face divorce than be with someone who was married in name only, who refused to be emotionally present. I would rather be alone than feel miles apart from the person sleeping next to me every night.

I would rather face divorce than be married to someone who keeps up a facade at all times, pretending to be something and someone that they are not. I’d rather have an honest ending than a lie that lasts til death do us part.

 

 

Two things can be true at the same time –

Divorce is awful and can be extremely disruptive and even traumatic, especially for a partner who does not want it or for the children.

AND

Sometimes divorce is the best outcome in a given situation.

If you have to choose between a happy marriage and divorce, it’s obvious which selection is the preferred one. Yet that’s not the option that’s on the table. The decision is between keeping a malfunctioning relationship going either through life-support or a steady drip of denial and an end of that relationship, leaving space for something new.

 

Speaking from personal experience, if you’re facing an unwanted divorce, it’s extremely challenging to accept that your marriage was not as happy as you thought. This is especially true if your spouse actively hid their unhappiness (don’t you just love the, “I haven’t been happy for a long time” being the first indication of a problem???). But even if everything was smooth from your perspective, they may see ragged surfaces and unfilled spaces from their side, and the marriage is the sum of those views.

I wonder now if my own fear of divorce played a role in my ex-husband’s deceptions. If he was too scared of my reaction to bring up the possibility of divorce, so instead he tried to pretend that everything was okay at home while living an entirely different life outside those four walls. Perhaps things would have been easier if we were both more willing to look at things honestly.

 

I am not anti-divorce.

I AM anti-lying to yourself or your partner. A relationship that is not built on honesty will eventually – and painfully – collapse.

I AM anti-cheating. It is never okay to betray your partner’s trust.

I AM anti-abandonment. It is cowardly and immature to slink away without a conversation.

I AM anti-shaming someone for the decision they make. We all have to do what aligns with our goals and values.

Divorce is awful. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy (or even on my ex-husband!). Yet sometimes, for some people, in some situations, it’s the right decision.

 

7 Things You Owe Your Partner (and One Thing You Don’t)

 

Forcing the End: Cheating as an Exit Strategy

People cheat for a large variety of reasons. In many of those cases, the cheater wants the affair partner(s) and they still want the marriage, a sort of one-sided renegotiation of the wedding vows.

Yet in other cases, what the cheater really wants is out of the marriage and the affair is simply a way of forcing that outcome.

So, why do people use an affair as an exit strategy for a marriage?

 

They Want You to Be the One to End It

Maybe they promised themselves that they would never get divorced. Or, they would feel guilty about breaking up the family while the kids are still young. Sometimes they’re worried about the judgment they’ll face from others if their marriage fails.  But if you’re the one to initiate the divorce, then they can find comfort in their little fiction that this was all on you.

Of course, all of this completely ignores the fact that it was their behavior that led to divorce in the first place. That if it wasn’t for the affair, you never would have filed the papers. But those that cheat are quite skilled at compartmentalization; they can convince themselves that the both the affair and the divorce happened to them instead of because of them.

 

They Lack the Courage to Be Honest With You

These are the people that will drop the bombshell, “I haven’t been happy for a long time” once their hand is forced, yet will never come to you with, “I’ve been feeling disconnected from you recently and I’d like for us to work together on this.” In a perverse way, they are not upfront with you because they don’t want to see you hurt and they don’t want to bear witness to your disappointment.

So instead, they pull away and they turn elsewhere, towards someone that they don’t have to worry about feeling obligated towards. They are running away, from the marriage and also from their discomfort. They believe that if they just stuff their unhappiness deep enough, they can build on top of it.

 

They Are Afraid of Being Alone

They want out. They know they want out. And yet the thought of being alone and unmoored after divorce scares the hell out of them. So, they make sure that they have a safe place – or person – to land on. The affair is a way of avoiding that terrifying leap into the unknown of being single, instead replacing the cliff’s edge with a gentle ramp out of marriage.

 

They Are Not Self-Aware

This is so often the case with those who use cheating to force the end of a marriage. Many times, they are not even consciously aware that they want out, much less cognizant about how the choices they make fit into the bigger picture.

 

In all of these cases, the affair may have been the final straw (or your first indication that something was amiss), but there were problems beneath the surface long before they stepped out. If you’re entering into a new relationship after divorce, make sure to look for someone who has the courage to be honest with you – and themselves – about when they are unhappy. It’s not a guarantee that they will never cheat on you, but it certainly provides some insurance.

 

 

16 Things I Wish I Knew On the Day My Husband Left Me

The text read, “I’m sorry to be such a coward leaving you this way, but I’m leaving you and leaving the state.”

My world collapsed.

I did too.

Here’s what I wish I could tell that woman folded on the floor, trying to process those words from her husband –

 

1 – You will spend so much energy on things that don’t matter.

It all seems so important right now – Why is he doing this? What is causing him to act this way? How could he say that he loved me and yet betray me behind my back? You are going to spend so many sleepless nights agonizing over these questions. Your journal – and later your blog – will be filled with unanswered “Whys,” because you believe that you need those answers in order to be free.

But eventually, as those pleas for understanding remain unanswered, you’ll come to realize that it matters so much less than you thought it did. That the things that really matter are right in front of you and that your energy is better spent forward than on paying the parking meters in the past.

 

2 – Details that seem so important now will be forgotten.

You’re going to obsess over the details of his double life, holding up the life you thought you had to what you now know like one of those “What is Different?” spreads in Highlights Magazine. It will seem so critical to uncover every detail and reveal every lie. It will give you a sense of control even as your world spins around you. If you just know all of the pieces, then maybe you can put yourself back together again.

Those memories, so painfully imprinted on your mind right now, will fade like a bruise over time. You will forget the curve of his cheek, no longer remember those shared moments clearly and even those painful images from the end will become blurry and distant.

 

3 – Things that feel impossible will happen.

In a few days, you’re going to discover that you are the victim of financial abuse. And the fallout of this is going to feel impossible to ever climb out of. But don’t underestimate yourself. You’re a fighter. It’s going to take you several years, but you WILL rebuild and pay off all of the debt he has left you with.

Those other things that feel impossible right now – trusting again, loving again, being happy again – those are going to happen too. You got this.

 

4 – Those words that hurt so much will be seen for the projection that they are.

Through letters to others and emails to his lawyer, he is going to say some horrible things. Words that will cut deeply and echo through your head for years to come. A part of you will immediately know that none of what he is saying is true. But a bigger part – the part that trusted him and valued his opinions for so long – is going to internalize what he said.

Gather up all of the evidence you can to refute his projection and gaslighting BS. He’s painting you out to be the bad guy in an attempt to make himself look better. One day, you’ll be able to see his words for what are – the desperate lies of a desperate man.

 

5 – You’re going to learn some shocking things. Don’t get too hung up on it.

Your life is about to go full-on reality television as the revelations come one after another. The shocking details are going to bring about a strange sort of energy, a rush that temporarily cuts through the sadness. In a way, you come to look forward to the next thing because it tells you that you are still alive.

For a time, you are going to hold to those shocking elements as something that sets you apart, makes your situation different than anyone else’s. As you meet others and hear their stories, you will realize that although your divorce makes a damn good story, the healing from it is really no different than it is for anyone else.

 

6 – You will shift from “Why didn’t he want me?” to “Why he doesn’t deserve me.”

Rejection hurts. And sudden rejection from the person you loved (and though loved you) is horrific. You are going to spend a lot of time thinking about what must have been wrong with you for him to discard you so easily.

But with time and perceptive, you’re going to realize that none of this was about you. He was on a path of destruction and you were just collateral damage.

 

7 – You’re not broken and you’re not unlovable.

You know that sweater that you adore? That one you got from Goodwill almost 20 years ago that still looks brand new? Well, someone once discarded that sweater, thinking that it had no value to them.

You’re kind of like that sweater. Someone has discarded you, but that doesn’t mean that you have no value. You may be shattered, but you’re not broken. You may be lost, but you’re not unlovable.

 

8 – He’s been lying to you, but you’ve been lying to yourself too.

You’re going to uncover his lies first. After all, they’re pretty easy to spot once you know which thread to pull to unravel it all. The lies you’ve been telling yourself will take longer to see. You’ve told yourself that you can’t live without him, but you can. Your subconscious mind believed that you couldn’t handle the truth, but you can. You thought that if you played by the rules, you couldn’t get hurt. That if you stayed quiet to keep the peace, that everything would be okay.

It’s going to be scary to face those truths. But you can do it.

 

9 – You’re having a perfectly normal reaction to a completely crazy situation.

There will be moments where you are going to feel crazy, when the situation seems like the fiction spun by an unstable mind and your reactions are outside of your control. Your sobs are going to come so hard that you worry you’re going to somehow tear your body apart. The confusion will leave unable to make even the smallest decision.

None of this is a reflection on you. You’re doing the best you can in a completely crazy situation. The good news? The situation – and your reactions – are temporary.

 

10 – You are going to screw some things up and that’s okay.

You’re going to send emails to him that sounds pathetic and pleading and others that make you sounds like a raging lunatic. You’re going to put your faith – and by extension, your paycheck, into the court system, thinking that they will bring about some sort of justice. You will let your anger about the ongoing financial betrayal consume you and impact those around you. You are going to date too soon and swing between being too available and too distant.

And all of that is okay. There may be thousands of “How to Rebuild Your Life” manuals, but that’s because you only know how to do it once you’ve done. As long as you’re moving forward, it’s okay if you’re making (lots of) missteps.

 

11 – You will have to find a way to live without justice or closure.

You’re going to think that you need an apology from him and some sort of justice through the court system in order to move on. For the better part of year, you will wait. But the apology will never come, the criminal trial will fizzle out with a diversion and the divorce decree will never be enforced.

You will be angry. You will be devastated. You will feel stuck. And then you’ll decide that it doesn’t matter and that damn it, he’s taken enough from you already and you refuse to let him have any more. And so you pack up all that reliance on outside factors to decide when you can move on and you just get to it.

 

12 – Your brain will protect you from acknowledging too much at a time.

The abandonment came as a shock. The betrayal and financial abuse were the aftershocks that rapidly followed. Now, your brain is on the defensive. It’s acting to protect you from any further harm. This is a good thing, because it gives you the space you need to acclimate to each new piece of information.

But it also means that processing all of this cannot be rushed. This is like a great big hunk of steak. The only way to get through it is by taking small bites and giving yourself time to fully chew.

 

13 – There will be surprising benefits to all of this that eventually you’ll be able to appreciate.

You’re going to like who you become on the other side of this. You’re going to learn so much about yourself and about the world and you’re going to find some really neat ways to put that knowledge into use.

You are going to have so much gratitude about what you do have and compassion for yourself and others. Even the worst experiences can have silver linings if you know where to look.

14 – Healing will take longer than you think.

At first, you think that you’ll be better by the time the divorce is final. Then, you will reluctantly extend that timeline to a year. Then another. You’re going to have months strung together with no issues and then you’ll walk headfirst into another trigger when you’re not looking.

Healing does not speak calendar. It is going to take longer than you think. Don’t forget to live in the meantime.

 

15 – You will meet some amazing people.

Any second now, your dad is going to rush to your side. And he won’t leave it. He’ll be followed by your mom and then one friend after another. You are going to become very aware of the support that you’ve always has around you.

And then once you’re back out in the world, you are going to meet so many amazing people. People that inspire you, challenge you, teach you. People that you never would have met if it wasn’t for all this.

 

1 6 -Your world will become bigger.

You’re going to dream bigger and have the courage to take those leaps of faith.

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