When the Wife Has the Affair

wife affair sadness - Adobe Stock(Please note: This article is written from the angle of when “the wife has the affair.” But please know that we do realize there are many times when the husband is the unfaithful one. If this is true for you, please change the pronouns.)

Not Feeling Love

A husband and wife sit in our office beside each other on the sofa. She is pregnant with the other man’s child. “I don’t love my husband,” she tells us and part of me cringes.

How much does this betrayed husband have to endure? I wonder. He loves his wife, but is devastated because she’s been unfaithful.

Not only that, but she’s pregnant with another man’s child, and now he must hear the words, “I don’t love you.” Yet, there he sits, man of honor, willing to take responsibility for ways he may have failed her in the marriage, willing to work on himself, willing to work towards reconciliation.

I understand the wife FEELS she doesn’t love her husband, and I know pushing her to stay in her marriage is not the answer. Love must always be a choice. You cannot force the wife to love her husband.

The Betrayed Husband

In another situation, I am working with a betrayed husband. It has taken him months to reach out for help and support. He’s a 6’6” handsome bodybuilder with a successful career. He tells me he’s not normally one to talk much, nor to show emotion, and really not too aware of his emotions.

Yet he explains to me how the pain of his wife’s affair has overwhelmed him. He says it has caused him to feel emotions so intense that he didn’t know he was capable of feeling. At times he tells me he’s found himself huddled on the floor in the fetal position, feeling nearly unable to bear the emotional pain.

It’s hard. Normally high-functioning, moral, good people are finding themselves feeling, doing, and considering things they never thought they would or could.

When the Wife Has the Affair

When the wife has had the affair it is often more difficult to get her to give up her affair and to be willing to put effort into the marriage. She has already checked out.

A husband may have the ability to have feelings for more than one woman, whereas a woman tends to give her devotion to only one man, so when she has come to the point of engaging in an affair, she has generally withdrawn her affection from her husband and given it to the other man. Even if a husband cheats, and he has given a part of himself to another, his love generally remained steadfast for his wife. When the wife cheats she is more likely to have entertained thoughts of leaving her marriage for her affair partner.

Differing Approaches

The cheating wife has often gone to her husband, pre-affair, time and again wanting to “talk” about their relationship. She tells him how she’s hurting, and asks for what she needs. But she has not been able to get through to him. So she gives up trying, and shut down.

She feels she’s given him chance after chance, and now she thinks, “that’s it!” After the affair, she’s more reluctant to give him a chance to win her heart back. Wives in general tend to be more “relationally tuned in” than their husbands, and aware of a disconnection within the marriage. They are more likely to be the ones to make the effort to read books, go to counseling or marriage retreats. They may even engage their spouses into “let’s fix our marriage” conversations prior to the time of getting sucked into an affair.

If a man has been unhappy in the relationship, he is less likely to be direct in asking for help. He is not likely to say, “Honey, we need to talk about our relationship.” He is fearful of being vulnerable in this way.

Common Factors

Some of the factors we find common when the wife has been unfaithful include:

•   The wife didn’t feel heard in the marriage.

•   She didn’t feel understood.

•   The wife felt the heart connection was missing.

•   She lost herself in the marriage giving too much, and losing a sense of her own identity.

•   Her husband was an absentee father.

•   She felt a disparity in fairness in roles in the relationship.

If she has been a woman of faith, she may have felt frustrated that her husband wasn’t taking on the role of spiritual leader in the home. She’s tired of trying to be the “good” person in the relationship. She feels she has been carrying the responsibility for too many things for too long.

Stress Factors

Today’s wives are under more stress than ever, because they generally work full-time outside the home and still carry the responsibility for most of the work in maintaining home and children. Plus women do not carry stress in the same way men do. Studies have shown that they feel twice as much stress at work given the same job/stressors as a man.

When a man comes home he generally has the ability to relax. This is how he de-stresses from the day. A woman on the other hand comes home to a second job and her stress now multiplies four times. Her Cortisol level (the stress hormone) shoots through the roof. Even if her husband says “here relax, I’ll take care of the kids, make dinner and do those extra loads of laundry,” she’ll only relax for a couple of minutes. She will then think of more things that need to get done; and she will get up and start doing it. The wife cannot relax until the work is done. Today’s women are generally experiencing far too much stress.

Greener Grass Syndrome

Wives are more likely to struggle with “greener grass syndrome.” “If only my husband would learn 
how to ___________ like so and so’s husband.”

The unfaithful wife often is not honest. She tries to hide the other relationship, because she doesn’t want to get rid of it.

When a spouse cheats our society tends to assume there were problems in the marriage, which led to the affair. While marriages with problems are certainly more susceptible to affairs, problems in marriages are not the only reasons for affairs. AFFAIRS DO HAPPEN IN GOOD, STRONG MARRIAGES TOO.

“Reasons” Spouses Cheat

When a wife cheats it is more likely that the husband has failed her in the marriage in some way, than when the husband cheats. But when the husband cheats it is more likely nothing to do with his wife, or satisfaction in his marriage.

A betrayed husband is more likely to be concerned with counting the number of times the wife had sex in the affair. He thinks to himself, “I wonder good this other man was in bed.”

Whenever the woman is the betrayed spouse she is likely to be more concerned with thoughts of “you must have loved her if …”

When the Wife/Husband Cheats

When the wife cheats she is more likely to have had a strong emotional connection to the other man. It’s less likely that her affair was only for sex.

Whenever a husband cheats, while many times there is a strong emotional connection, there are also many times when the unfaithfulness was only about sex.

When a wife cheats she often gives sex to gain the emotional connection that is satisfying her.

Whenever a husband cheats he is more likely to give the emotional connection to gain the sex he wants with this person.

When it’s the wife who cheats she suffers a greater social stigma and rejection. Her girlfriends are not likely to admire or support her in anyway (unless they’re desperate housewives protégés.)

But when the husband cheats some of the men in his circle of influence may look up to him and envy him a bit. The man’s unfaithfulness is basically acceptable in some circles. This is not likely for the woman, so she suffers with a greater sense of quiet desperation.

There IS Hope

There is tremendous hope for couples where the wife has been unfaithful. This is especially so when the betrayed husband is serious about becoming the man he needs to be for his wife. The changes he makes stick, so now more than ever the wife can have the husband she always wanted with the man she married. The illusion that things will be better with the affair partner is exactly that, an illusion. In real life the other man comes with his own set of character flaws, and the loving courtship behaviors that are present in the secret relationship, don’t continue if the affair becomes a marriage.

What can a betrayed husband do who wants to win his wife’s heart?

1. Really love your wife. Read The Heart of the 5 Love Languages written by Dr Gary Chapman. Speak all of these languages for your wife, and find out what her primary languages are and do more of those. A woman longs within her heart to be pursued, and to be cherished by her husband.

2. Refrain from being vindictive. Don’t throw stones. This could cause her to continue to see you as a “jerk”. She has probably been struggling with these thoughts, even while she was caught up in the affair (and possibly before it).

3. Be consistent. Learn how to fight fair.

But it’s not fair you say. Yes, I know. There is nothing fair in affair.

Suggestions for the wife who has had an affair:

1. Recognize that generally your affair partner is not better than the one you’re with.

2. Create reassurance for your husband, and give him lots of encouragement.

3. Reach out for support for yourself from sound, safe sources. This journey is way too hard. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do it alone.


What became of the couples referred to in the opening? The wife in the first scenario committed to putting her whole heart into the work we would guide her through for a 3-month period of time. If she felt like leaving after this we agreed she could. However, she agreed that she was not to entertain the thought of divorce during that time. By 3 months they had moved significantly forward. Her feelings of love for her husband were returning. And for that reason they decided to continue the work. They purchased a coaching package for one year, and attended 3 of our seminars. They had fallen in love again, and were well on their way to healing by the time her baby was born. The husband adopted the child as his own and they have a wonderful family and life together today.

Second Scenario

The husband in the second scenario moved forward quickly once he reached out for help. His wife had already ended her affair. She fully committed to do whatever it would take to heal the marriage. They attended a Healing From Affairs Intensive after 4 months of coaching.

When they came to the Healing Intensive seminar it was a last ditch effort for them. The husband just didn’t see how he could continue to live with the pain he’d been feeling. The weekend became their turn around point. They set aside weekly time after that to work through all the materials we provided them with. Then they took their marriage to a whole new level at the Love & Passion weekend five months later. Today, they are stronger than ever, and helping others in their marriages.

You CAN Do It.

We’ve helped many couples; these are just two brief examples of them. If they can do it so can you. Don’t delay reaching out for help. Don’t go through this pain any longer than you absolutely have to. Nothing can do more for your wealth, health, children, career success and overall happiness than not only healing your marriage, but also making it a passionate one. We know the way. We’ll show you how. We guarantee it. What is getting from miserable to happy worth to you?

Anne and Brian Bercht, who are both affair recovery specialists, wrote this article. Anne has also written of the book, “My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” Together they have appeared on television programs throughout North America. Anne is the Director of the International Beyond Affairs Network. They have both a Canadian and a U.S. office. You can visit their web site at www.beyondaffairs.comFor information about confidential coaching with Brian or Anne click here.


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Filed under: Surviving Infidelity

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156 responses to “When the Wife Has the Affair

  1. Your article starts out with a husband and wife sitting on your couch…the husband having to endure the reality of his entire life being ripped apart by his wife’s irresponsible, selfish and despicable actions. And yet, the rest of your article is devoted to vindicating the wife and presenting generic instructions as to how the husband may win his wife’s love back. Are you actually bloody serious??!! Coming from a guy who has experienced this situation first hand, I feel obliged to state here, for the sake of other men who have experienced such betrayal and are desparately looking to put the pieces together, that this article is absolute rubbish, regurgitated from material you have pieced together and plagiarized. Utter garbage.

    1. What does God do to help the man that’s been cheated on? The Bible says he sits high and looks low. Then when the man is still in pain and his wife is disrespectful the man is a child of God and feels forsaken.

  2. “What can a betrayed husband do who wants to win his wife’s heart?” This is a ridiculous question. But my answer to this question is to hold her accountable. You can’t play the “pick me” dance, because it does not work. Cheaters are very much like addicts, and they usually need a firm intervention with consequences.

    The question should be, “What can a wayward wife do who wants to win back her husband’s broken heart?” Taking blame or responsibility for a spouse’s cheating is dangerous and downright wrong. The responsibility for cheating falls completely on the wayward spouse. The wayward should confess, repent, and show true remorse for what they did. And hopefully the betrayed will be willing to forgive and offer the blessing of a chance at reconciliation.

    Look, when marriages break down, whether due to infidelity or other problems, it’s important for both spouses to accept responsibilty for their failures. Marital problems are usually factors that can deceive people into thinking that cheating is a viable option. But a spouse’s faults and shortcomings are never legitimate reasons for an affair. They are merely excuses, fed by a selfish need to shift blame and minimize their own sinful acts.

  3. What do you do if the wife is an alcoholic and having an affair? I tried everything to get her to see how the alcohol was destroying our ability to completely bond. Finally, in desperation and financial necessity due to her not wanting to work, I took a job over two thousand miles away with the understanding she would come up in May. She instead chose to have an affair with a bar owner who supplies her booze in return for sex. I love her but how do I fight her partner and alcohol?

  4. My wife had an affair with another woman from her work. We have three kids and have been married ten years. She continued to lie about it for at least a month after I found out. It never crossed my mind that she would cheat. Is there any hope that our marriage can be fixed?

  5. My wife of 9 years and 5 children recently cheated on me with a mutual friend in another state and lied about it for about 6 weeks, claiming she was unhappy with our marriage. It all came to a head when we met with our pastor and she admitted to everything. She also admitted that she had planned to leave me long before the affair and it was a “1 time huge mistake when she was drunk”.

    About 4 weeks later she took another trip to visit friends and got drunk and reported “making out with a guy at a bar but stopped it before it went further”. She also admitted that she was committed to getting a divorce and had started making plans for her future/career as I am the main source on income. I have reached out to my pastor and counselor and friends for advice. In one week’s time both my wife and I have made huge improvements in being amicable and talking about not making permanent decisions for a while. She wants a long term separation for her to work on herself and her past hurts (she has some serious issues that she never has worked on resolving regarding molestation and rape when she was younger). We have also talked about keeping all 5 kids with me since they are settled here (in Wyoming) and splitting them up to go to Massachusetts where she wants to work on herself and take an internship.

    What are your thoughts on this separation? And what are some things we can do in the meantime so this won’t happen again? We are highly religious people and I have leaned on God like never before and boy has he shown up for me like I’ve never felt. Thanks in advance.

    1. Kyle, I’m sorry for the upheaval you are experiencing in your marriage. To answer your questions, there are more answers than I can fit in this reply. I encourage you to go back to our web site and in the section “Surviving Infidelity” (http://marriagemissions.com/category/surviving-infidelity/) and also “Emotional and Physical Affair” section (http://marriagemissions.com/category/emotional-physical-affair/).

      In each of these sections are numerous articles, links to other web sites and a list of resources that can help you. We also have an article called “A Healing Separation with Goals” (http://marriagemissions.com/healing-separation/).

      Now, be aware – to heal this situation in your marriage is going to require a lot of hard work by both of you. It won’t come quickly because what led to these problems didn’t just occur over night. But I can assure you that if you are committed to this process you will become stronger.

      I hope this helps. Blessings!

  6. Wife had an affair with married man who she knew from 40 yrs ago when they were teens. Caught her in the act with a P/I. She tried to say nothing happened; it was all emotional. Emotional or physical, it’s still an affair. Other man’s wife is now aware and I’m sure it hit the fan. No more contact with my wife. My wife and I have been doing the dance for about a year trying to keep things calm and level-headed. Wife is highly emotional creature. She gets into meltdowns once in a while. Cops were involved. She was out for a a while. Now stays with her parents 3 days a week and 4 days with me. Says she needs to work it out. Psychologist and Therapist told me the affair was NOT my fault. Wife has issues; not me. Wife tries to flip whole issue on me saying I didn’t meet her needs. When I confront her on what needs weren’t met, there’s no answer. We’ll see how it goes for now.

  7. Larry is correct, what horrible advice. I guess it’s the betrayeds fault if his wife steps out on their marriage. They weren’t meeting 100 percent of their wife’s needs! Is that even possible within the human construct? Maybe design an article about the wife making amends for the incredible destruction and heartbreak the wife has done with the affair. Maybe helping her see what destructive patterns she started to lead her into another man’s bed, instead of blaming the guy! So on that logic, the Berchets would say that the “rape victim” must not have being doing something right, or they never would have been victimized. Is this pablum “Christian counseling,” because even Jesus would call this teaching pharisaical. Wow. Big disappointment with a swing and a miss.

  8. My previously faithful wife of 37 years has fallen victim to a romance scammer. I was misdiagnosed with a heart condition that would have been very serious debilitating and life threatening. I became somewhat self-absorbed at the time so my wife began talking to these con artists on Facebook. One of them began love bombing her and she thought she had found someone who would care for her i.e. possible dangers of people like this and she refused to listen. She was so madly in love with this person that she was only staying with me at the time out of a sense of guilt and duty. (I cared for her when she was bedridden for two years) She has always been naïve and gullible but I thought the loyalty factor would keep her from something like this. I am devastated emotionally and financially.

  9. Hi, my wife has been having an affair and is pregnant with I believe his child. She lied and got me arrested put in jail, brought him home and had sex on our bed. Took everything we worked for moves it out of the house so I was released to have nothing left. I am so lost. What do I need to do?

  10. Here is something that happened to me and I’ve found no info on it anywhere…My ex cheated on me, then let me get her pregnant twice, and I didn’t find out until 2 weeks before the second child was born. I was devastated, but stayed for 6 months before leaving her. She begged me to come home for months, then upon realizing I wasn’t coming back, she swore to ruin my life. I became so depressed that I could no longer work and pay child support after a few years. It has destroyed my family and one marriage. She refused to let me see the children anymore, and I’m pretty much for the scrap heap.

    It’s been 20 years now and my life is ruined. Have you ever heard of something similar?. I didn’t think to get paternity tests back then, as I was COMPLETELY devastated for years, and have turned to drink over the bad choices I’ve made about dealing with her back then. I feel what she did should be illegal, as in entrapment. If I had known, she NEVER would have become pregnant to me in the first place! My life has been ruined by this woman. She has a rich father and an amazing support system, and I have nothing but anxiety and depression, and it just seems so unfair to both myself and the 2 kids who are now in their 20’s and think I abandoned them. I fought for years and then gave up after I could no longer fight. Ever heard of such a circumstance?. I feel utterly alone.

    1. Gutted Father, Yes, sadly, we hear of this same scenario over and over again. It is very real to us, personally, because it happened to my wife’s brother. We saw the devastation this caused in his life. His daughter is now 21 and her mother poisoned her opinion of him so much that she has no relationship with her dad to this day. I know this doesn’t “encourage” you, Gutted, but it’s one of the reasons we have this web site – to help couples find answers BEFORE they divorce and destroy an an entire family.

      The best advice I can give you is to find a divorce support group where you will find others going through similar experiences and who can empathize with you. I Googled your city and “divorce support group” and found there are a number of options available to you.

      You didn’t say in your post if you a Christ-follower. I would like to encourage you to try and find a support group that is faith-based (in a Bible believing church) because even if you didn’t want a divorce support group, you need to be around other people who can help and encourage you through your “down” times.

      I am so sorry you are experiencing this, and I hope something I said will help you on your healing journey. Blessings!

  11. I am a diabetic, have high blood pressure and require ED medication. The ED medication is not working as well as it used to. I am able to please my wife in other ways in the bedroom, but now that is not enough for her. She wants to feel “full” inside and wants a “free pass”. I don’t know what to do at this point. I have a strong feelings about infidelity. She says its only physical and not intimacy. What now? I am so lost.

    1. D., I too am a Type-1 Diabetic (42 years) and have been virtually impotent for the past 5+ years (it was a gradual decline). So, I understand your frustration. What I don’t understand is how your wife feels she deserves a “free pass.” Based on this request from her I have to assume that she is not a Christ-follower. Even if she isn’t a Christian, the worst thing you could do to your marriage is for her to have sex with another man so she can feel “full.” I can guarantee this wouldn’t be a one-time event. You would be opening the door to multiple sexual relations for her.

      Did the two of you take any marriage vows when you got married? Do you (and she) understand what vows are? When Cindy and I made our vows to one another 44 years ago I wasn’t a diabetic. I became Type-1 two years later. But we both believed the part about being committed to each other (until death do us part) “in sickness and in health; for better or worse…” I sure you know there have been a lot of “worse” times over the past 42 years because of my diabetes besides in the bedroom.

      Too many people take vows like they’re some sort of “loosey-goosey I’ll do these as long as I feel like it and I get what I want.” I am a blessed man that my wife has never minimized me because I can longer “perform” in the bedroom the same way. But we have found other ways to express our love and intimacy where we both feel very satisfied. It takes a lot of creativity, patience, understanding AND GRACE.

      I also suggest you find a counselor to help you two with this issue. I’m going to take a leap here and say you probably have other issues in your marriage that need to be dealt with as well. We recommend you call Focus On The Family at 1-800-A-FAMILY and ask to speak with one of their counselors (you get one free phone session). They can also help you find someone in your area who specializes in sexual issues in marriage.

      D., I exhort you that under no circumstances should you give your wife permission to commit adultery. I wish there was an easier answer for you, but there isn’t. This is tough stuff and requires a couple to dig deep and hold fast to the promises they made to each other to stay faithful, no matter what.

      1. Yes, I know you are right. Yes, we both spoke the vows, and I feel ashamed, all the way around. She feels like she has been giving and giving with nothing in return. More than just in the bedroom. I am not perfect, I have been depressed for a while now about my health conditions and not being able to work. She has had to shoulder a lot of burden. Now I am afraid that if it happens, were done, Because I believe in those vows, I hope that she will not take that step.

  12. I clicked on this randomly because the title caught my attention. The tone of the article surprised me (because I thought it would be for husbands), and I feel for the men who have commented below. But realizing the tone is Bible-based, and that it is directed toward the wives, the sections “Common Factors” and “Stress Factors” REALLY spoke to me. My husband and I have struggled for nearly 10 years after multiple affairs by both of us. (We’ve been married more than 25 years, and yes it was in a church with Christian marriage vows). I have continued to have a lot of sadness and regret over what we did. We DID reach out to our church and our pastor, but felt really abandoned by the church in our greatest time of need. A neighbor (who was a pastor at the same church) recommended a Christian-based “Marriage Restoration” weekend, (which we both thought was a TOTAL JOKE and an expensive WASTE OF TIME). We then sought pastoral counseling at a different church, and followed up with traditional individual and couples counseling. Our area was SORELY LACKING in any kind of EXTREME CRISIS MANAGEMENT which is what we needed. Our kids refer to that as “the Summer (and Year) From Hell”. I found it difficult to attend church, but attended small group instead, and then found another church. My husband no longer does individual counseling or goes to church, but I still do.

    We’ve done EVERYTHING, the Five Love Languages, the Love Game, the Power of a Praying Wife, etc., but the infidelities and the aftermath have done permanent and lasting damage to our marriage. It was very humiliating because (living in a small town) many of our “friends” knew our personal business, and we lost many of those “friends” in putting our marriage back together. One amazing thing is that we re-discovered that we were both strongly committed to making our marriage work. And we made a conscious decision to keep it together “for the children” because THEY BEGGED US NOT TO DIVORCE. It’s not perfect by any means, wish we could go back and have a DO-OVER (and NOT DO it). I have accepted responsibility for my transgressions.

    There were other factors, not really addictions, but bipolar, depression, (both of us) and alcohol and prescription medications that were being abused (by both of us) at the time. (Self-medicating?) At my most difficult times I have to remind myself that God is in control, it is part of His plan, and that He is preparing our hearts. I always go to Him in prayer when things get unbearable. Our kids are now 19 and nearly 17, and our son will graduate high school in about 18 months. The fear I have had hanging over my head for the past 10 years is that when he does come of age, will my husband decide he’s finally had enough and want to leave? (realizing this is always Satan trying to mess with my head) I have no way of knowing or predicting that. I guess I will have to deal with it if and when the time comes. But in the meantime, I do a lot of praying out loud and on my knees, like in the movie War Room, because I believe it is worth the fight. God isn’t finished with (me) ANY of us yet. And to others who are fighting for it, keep the faith, it is worth it. Even if my marriage was to end in two years, I still think it will have been worth that 12 years trying to keep it together for our kids. They are happy and well-adjusted. They would have adjusted if we had gotten divorced too. But what kind of message does that send? A selfish one. This truly is a love story in the making. #keepthefaith #TrustGod