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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let me first start off by saying that I think this website is an invaluable resource for those in both healthy and problematic marriages - I have been encouraged, inspired, and strengthened by numerous posts in the month or two since I joined. I have posted a little bit before - my wife of 3.5 years and I are separated (~3 months now), mainly due to her depression. She works 8 to 5, and I'm an engineering PhD student, so we definitely have our stressors.

That said, while I have found a lot of useful information on here, it has also enabled my cynical side to develop, especially when it comes to infidelity. I can't give a lot of specifics, and my wife has never given me a reason to think that she would/has cheat(ed) (I know, I know, everyone starts out by saying that), but let's just say since I've joined, I find myself going over our cell phone records at least once every other week - something that I never once did before.

By my own estimation, and based on the very limited number of posts I've read, I would say that the vast majority of divorced/separated members on here are in that situation due to a WS. Is this accurate? For some of the longer-term members, what percentage of users would you say have suffered infidelity? I'm cognizant of the whole "sampling bias" and other self-selectivity issues by asking such a question in this forum, but I often find myself looking for more advice regarding situations where infidelity has not occurred, and I'm curious to know the reasons behind the shortage...
 

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By my own estimation, and based on the very limited number of posts I've read, I would say that the vast majority of divorced/separated members on here are in that situation due to a WS.
I think it is incredibly difficult to isolate and identify one single root cause. Is an affair a symptom or the disease? Or a bit of both?

So whilst I think we can safely say that a lot of marriage problems and break ups involve infidelity, I am not so confident in saying that they are because of infidelity.
 
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In my sitch, my wife's infidelity was a by product of underlying relationship issues and I think personal issues on her part. Once infidelity is involved, it's a whole new ball game.
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I think it is incredibly difficult to isolate and identify one single root cause. Is an affair a symptom or the disease? Or a bit of both?

So whilst I think we can safely say that a lot of marriage problems and break ups involve infidelity, I am not so confident in saying that they are because of infidelity.
I'd agree with this. I had faults of my own that I needed to work on, while she had/has her own issues with self-esteem and insecurity. Her not feeling wanted/appreciate by me opened the door for another man to be a "listening ear", say all the right things, and sweep her off her feet (and out the door).

So did infidelity cause or separation/divorce? I don't know. I suppose so. I think it's more complex than a blanket yes or no.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
So, for those who have responded, is it your opinion that underlying unresolved relationship issues will eventually lead to infidelity for one or more partners in most or all cases, and that those separations that don't involve infidelity are in the "tail end" of the bell curve?

I suppose my underlying motivation for this is that before I found this website, I viewed separation and infidelity as two different concepts - yes, I knew infidelity would likely cause separation and/or divorce, but I also thought that a large number of couples separated because they "fell out of love" without necessarily having an affair.

It seems that after spending my time here, the two notions are intrinsically related - while I feel that this understanding has given me a better perspective into my own relationships, it has also filled me with a great amount of cynicism towards people (in general, and those I care about). Part of me thinks that while my spouse has never given me a reason to think she has been unfaithful, so many stories on here about infidelity seemed to start with exactly this sentiment - if that's the case, what's to stop me from going from an assumption of "my wife is faithful" to an assumption of "my wife is not faithful"?

I suppose I'm just in a phase of my separation where I'm trying to reconcile rational decision-making and emotional-based decision-making. I love and cherish my wife more than anything in the world, but why would I put 100% of my heart and soul into trying to make our marriage work, if there's a possibility that sometime down the road, it will all mean nothing, and my wife will run off with another man despite my best efforts? It seems to me that I can do my best to identify my faults and work my hardest to fix them, but if there's one or two that I miss (and my wife doesn't tell me about them), it will sow the seeds for long-term resentment/unhappiness all over again.

Surely this can't be rational - the expectation that the only happily married couples are those without faults, so what's a guy to do?
 

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So, for those who have responded, is it your opinion that underlying unresolved relationship issues will eventually lead to infidelity for one or more partners in most or all cases,
That depends on the person who is unhappy. Someone with morals, when they get to the end of their rope, will simply say "I'm not happy anymore", and leave. Whether they then go pursue someone else after they've left is up to them.

Unresolved issues can and often will push someone to the point of cheating - whether they cross it is 100% a reflection on them as a person.

what's to stop me from going from an assumption of "my wife is faithful" to an assumption of "my wife is not faithful"?
A gut feeling, and evidence. Almost all cheaters, as much as they try to hide an affair, have plenty of "tells". Sudden increase in texts/calls to numbers you don't know, secrecy with their phone, guarding it like it's their life. More attention paid to their appearance/clothing when going out, time out of the house that's unaccounted for, etc etc. Growing distant from their spouse, a sudden decrease in sex (or sometimes, if they're feeling guilt about the affair, the opposite will happen). There are hundreds upon hundreds of threads about cheating spouses on this forum, and almost all of them follow the exact same script, and include the same tell-tale signs.

When you're in that situation, your gut will tell you something is amiss. Your head and heart will deny it - she would never do that, maybe I'm over-reacting, or reading too much into things. If you talk to her about it, she'll deny it, turn it around on you, make you question your own sanity. Eventually you'll feel the need to snoop and look for evidence, and if your gut has been right (and it usually is), the evidence is not hard to find once you're searching for it.

If you have no reason to think any of this applies to you, then you may be correct in assuming your wife has been faithful, and was simply unhappy in the marriage. If you have no evidence, and no gut feeling of wrong-doing, I wouldn't assume infidelity just because you're reading about so many stories on here.
 

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Our marriage was in horrible shape and many have told me they would have given up long before I discovered his cheating. His infidelity made me refuse to keep trying. He knew up front that infidelity was a complete, non-negotiable dealbreaker. When I'm feeling generous I think this was the only way he knew to leave the marriage. But then I remember the lies, deception and still-endless blameshifting, and then I know he is without love. No reason to stay married to that.
 

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KnnNike -

There are two different things here - why relationships die and how they die (i.e the mechanics of their death).

It's not really that important, in the grand scheme of things, how they die. Once they're dead they're dead.

If you are looking to learn lessons from this site then I would suggest that you focus on the first question. And there do seem to be a few simple lessons here.
- relationships die slowly and quietly of neglect
- silence or no complaint does not mean that everything is OK
- people eventually take the path of least resistance either towards what they want/need/crave or away from what the dislike/fear. Often that path of least resistance avoids their spouse - either seeking solace with another or avoiding conflict/confrontation with spouse.
- many people can't/won't ask for what they need emotionally. They wait for others to provide it. And if that doesn't happen, they do something indirectly. Either they use some completely different issue (housework, habits, laundry) as an attempt to say "please love me/pay attention to me/value me" or they try to cause a crisis to get their partner to change.
- long term we all get complacent. We stop asking if everything is OK, whether our partner is getting what they need from us. If it seems OK, and there are no dramas, and everything was OK last week, and the week before that, then we just carry on assuming that it's OK.

As long as you learn from the mistakes of others on here you will avoid all of those traps. And then you won't have to worry about whether your relationship will be barbecued in front of you with or without infidelity on the side.
 
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Probability of infidelity in separation/divorce is in the high 90 percent range I would bet. Infidelity is a common symptom of most all marriage breaking diseases no doubt. My WAW narcissist denies infidelity but I KNOW with 100% certainty in my heart that she is lying. I will be interested in knowing who was 'worth it' in her view to break our home, family, and long term marriage assuming they survive the divorce without him having a change of heart. He will be getting the same illusionary phony phantom woman that I had. My love was for an illusion- not a genuine person. Too bad her apparent self was a fake identity constructed to hide her true self. I wouldn't be here on TAM if she was truly what she seemed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
KnnNike -

There are two different things here - why relationships die and how they die (i.e the mechanics of their death).

It's not really that important, in the grand scheme of things, how they die. Once they're dead they're dead.

If you are looking to learn lessons from this site then I would suggest that you focus on the first question. And there do seem to be a few simple lessons here.
- relationships die slowly and quietly of neglect
- silence or no complaint does not mean that everything is OK
- people eventually take the path of least resistance either towards what they want/need/crave or away from what the dislike/fear. Often that path of least resistance avoids their spouse - either seeking solace with another or avoiding conflict/confrontation with spouse.
- many people can't/won't ask for what they need emotionally. They wait for others to provide it. And if that doesn't happen, they do something indirectly. Either they use some completely different issue (housework, habits, laundry) as an attempt to say "please love me/pay attention to me/value me" or they try to cause a crisis to get their partner to change.
- long term we all get complacent. We stop asking if everything is OK, whether our partner is getting what they need from us. If it seems OK, and there are no dramas, and everything was OK last week, and the week before that, then we just carry on assuming that it's OK.

As long as you learn from the mistakes of others on here you will avoid all of those traps. And then you won't have to worry about whether your relationship will be barbecued in front of you with or without infidelity on the side.
A very thought-provoking response, thank you. And yes, that is what I am ultimately trying to avoid: seeing my marriage, despite my best efforts to the contrary, "barbecued" in front of me.
 

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A very thought-provoking response, thank you.
My pleasure - I hope it helps.

I can see where you are coming from. Until very recently I would have said that my wife being unfaithful to me would be about the worst, most painful blow that I could bear. If I seriously thought that it was happening there mere thought of her with someone else would keep me from sleeping and have me acting like a madman.

But strangely, once it actually happens as part of the relationship dying it doesn't actually seem to matter that much - at least that's my experience. It's just another painful piece in a jigsaw of pain. It's no better or worse than any other aspect of it. The images that you thought would haunt you forever - her in bed with another man - aren't actually that powerful. Again, that is my experience - perhaps it is different for others.

Let me put it another way. Fear of infidelity is just like all other unrealised fears - you obsess about possible scenarios, run the disaster movies in your head over and over again, etc. just like you do with fear of the plane crashing. But once the plane has actually crashed and you're lying in a twisted, burning piece of wreckage you don't much care any more how it came to be that way. Hope that makes sense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
My pleasure - I hope it helps.

I can see where you are coming from. Until very recently I would have said that my wife being unfaithful to me would be about the worst, most painful blow that I could bear. If I seriously thought that it was happening there mere thought of her with someone else would keep me from sleeping and have me acting like a madman.

But strangely, once it actually happens as part of the relationship dying it doesn't actually seem to matter that much - at least that's my experience. It's just another painful piece in a jigsaw of pain. It's no better or worse than any other aspect of it. The images that you thought would haunt you forever - her in bed with another man - aren't actually that powerful. Again, that is my experience - perhaps it is different for others.

Let me put it another way. Fear of infidelity is just like all other unrealised fears - you obsess about possible scenarios, run the disaster movies in your head over and over again, etc. just like you do with fear of the plane crashing. But once the plane has actually crashed and you're lying in a twisted, burning piece of wreckage you don't much care any more how it came to be that way. Hope that makes sense.
And I think that's why I still have the fear - because as far as I know, my wife has not been unfaithful, and I feel that there is still a strong chance to save my marriage. The plane has lost an engine, but it hasn't crashed yet, so to speak.

Again, poignant, yet powerful words. Thank you.
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I only found out about her infidelity after we seperated and i was over her. It wasnt the root cause of our seperation, sometimes people just shouldnt be together.

Im alot happier in life without her.
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And I think that's why I still have the fear - because as far as I know, my wife has not been unfaithful, and I feel that there is still a strong chance to save my marriage. The plane has lost an engine, but it hasn't crashed yet, so to speak.

Again, poignant, yet powerful words. Thank you.
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I don't know the percentage of divorce/separation. On this site.

I do know that if your perception is that she is cheating, then she is cheating.
if there is no signs and no gut feeling, then I completely agree that this and other websites will give you at the very least a slight inclination to question your logic.

I would say that those have been cheated on arw the most likely to search for help in their pain, so are more likely to join a website chat group that helps them deal with it.

Is the real question: "can this site be harmful to reconciliation?"

I dunno. Just my two copper Lincolns
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Is the real question: "can this site be harmful to reconciliation?"
An interesting question.

One thing this site is not big on is forgiveness.

Now not everyone deserves forgiveness, and it must be earned. And forgiveness must not be an excuse for rugsweeping.

But I can't help thinking that sometimes forgiveness might not be a bad thing.
 

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I would disagree with you there. We encourage forgiveness when it is deserved. If my ex had been willing to to stop cheating and own what he did, I was willing to forgive him. In many cases a cheating spouse doesn't show remorse for what they've done. Why would anybody encourage a BS to forgive someone that doesn't feel bad about cheating? We would be encouraging them to go get cheated on again.
 
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I would disagree with you there. We encourage forgiveness when it is deserved. If my ex had been willing to to stop cheating and own what he did, I was willing to forgive him. In many cases a cheating spouse doesn't show remorse for what they've done. Why would anybody encourage a BS to forgive someone that doesn't feel bad about cheating? We would be encouraging them to go get cheated on again.
Forgiveness is for the forgiver.

Without it is to fester in anger and resentment that will bind you to your toxic past.

Forgiveness is the catalyst to moving on.
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