Coping with Infidelity, Part 3: Faking My Way Through a Marriage Crisis

Coping with Infidelity is a four-part series that aims to remove the culture of silence and shame around adultery. The author has chosen to remain anonymous to protect the privacy of her children. Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

“Fake it till you make it” is a common piece of advice but never in a million years did I think it would apply to my marriage.

It’s been nine months since I discovered my husband’s affair with his co-worker, a woman I’d met, befriended and introduced my children to. He and I decided to stay together and rebuild our relationship, a process that has been long, sad, exhausting and occasionally hopeful.

When I first heard “fake it till you make it” I thought it was ridiculous because I was young enough to believe life was black and white. I was horrified by the idea of faking it and thought, “if I can’t do the job I shouldn’t apply” or, “if I don’t know what I’m doing I should admit it.”

But eventually I understood it wasn’t about lying or being disingenuous, it was about buying time until I figured things out.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this prepared me to handle the current state of my marriage.

We are trying to work through the pain his affair has caused, to rebuild our marriage. We are no longer in therapy and the opportunities for meaningful conversation about it have dwindled. He’s remorseful and he knows I’m in pain, but he doesn’t want to talk about it. So I stay silent, swallowing my tears and my words instead of reaching out and asking for the assurances and information I so desperately need. Things are good, I think. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t bring it up. Just deal with it on your own.

In this way, we are carrying on as though nothing has happened, when in reality I’m still in recovery mode and hurting deeply.

One of the problems is that I’m still looking for logic and reason despite knowing I will never truly understand his infidelity. I’ll never understand how he could love me and our children the way he says he does and still cheat on us. So I spend a lot of time wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. When is he going to wake up and admit it’s over, or ask himself why he’s bothering to stay and work it out?

In my mind he cheated because he no longer loved me and/or found me attractive. He found someone he liked better and decided to test drive a relationship with her hoping I wouldn’t find out. He insists it was none of those things but my brain can’t process what it perceives as the inconsistency between his words and his actions.

This is what they mean when they say it takes months, even years, to recover from an affair: no matter how good things seem on the surface, the betrayed party never feels totally out of the woods. Finding out you were cheated on by someone you love and trust is such a shocking, disorienting experience that you no longer trust your judgement. Your shame and hurt are compounded by the fact that you didn’t know what was happening in your own marriage and, if you’ve decided to stay, by the fact that you feel weak and pathetic for letting him back into your life; for even wanting him to stay.

My current fake it till you make it status is also coming from a place of regret for the way I handled the immediate aftermath.

I wish I’d made him leave right at the start because I think we both would have benefited from some time apart to think through what happened and why. Maybe if he experienced life without me and decided to come back, I wouldn’t be living in constant fear that I’m going to go through this all over again when he decides he really does want a divorce or when he cheats on me again.

I rushed headlong into fixing my marriage and righting the family ship to minimize the affair’s disruption on my and my children’s lives. But did this leave me blind to the bigger picture? Was it like rearranging deck chairs as the orchestra played and the Titanic sank?

Discovering a partner’s affair and deciding to stay together is like pressing Control-Alt-Delete on your relationship. Going right to the quick fix before unplugging it, before sitting with it and contemplating the real problem(s) feels, in hindsight, like taking a short cut that will cost much more in the end.

Nine months later I feel like I’m supposed to be getting better, getting “over it”, but I’m stuck in quicksand. I can’t move, can’t get out, can’t decide what to do. My uncertainty is swallowing me whole.

It’s hard to move forward when something is still present for you every day. I have the same fear and doubt I had nine months ago. Its not as raw and panicky or as acute, but it’s very much there.

At family events we play happy couple and put on a show for people who know nothing of our troubles. I pretend to be happy and in love and to have fun. I smile and laugh and genuinely enjoy our time together. My husband relaxes when he sees me happy but he has no idea how close I am to breaking. Realizing we may never be that truly happy couple again, that I’m faking it, makes my head spin.

After several months away from work, my husband will soon return to the office where he’s in close proximity to his lover every day. As my anxiety ramps up (again), I think about insisting he find a new job, or refuse to continue reconciling until he does. I could confront her, create drama, threaten and deliver ultimatums. I could expose her to their coworkers and her husband. Truthfully I’ve fantasized about all of this. A lot. But my dignity is important to me and truly, what will any of that solve? She could have been anyone, just as she could be anyone again. It’s not a “her” problem. It’s a “him” problem, an “us” problem.

I know there won’t be a lighting bolt, a sign, or a sudden moment of clarity that releases me from the prison of my anxieties. I won’t wake up and all of a sudden feel better and more certain of the future.

And yet I can’t stop yearning for something to show me which path to take, something that helps me figure this out so I can stop “faking” and start living.


Next up: read the final post, Part 4, here.



  1. Anne on September 26, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    My advice to you would be to draw the line with him working with her. There’s no chance you’ll keep your sh*t together with them working alongside each other. Even if he promises that it will never happen again, that he’ll try to avoid her… Your brain will constantly go to dark places thinking the worst, always suspicious, and constant reminders of the time he cheated. She needs to be cut out of your lives if there’s any hope. Finding another job may seem like a huge!shocking!Scary change!…But so is divorce, so he can take his pick of the options.
    As for wondering what was going through his head, how did he not think of you when he was having the affair? I had the same questions and still don’t get it exactly because we’re women. And we think differently. We attach emotion to everything. Men have a box in their head that has absolutely nothing in it. A guy can go fishing and actually be thinking about NOTHING. We go fishing and we think of special memories, grocery lists, making an appointment for Susie’s orthodontist yadda yadda. But they can actually have non-thoughts where its just a big ol’ empty space that doesn’t have their wife in mind, or family, or work (must be nice right?). The only thing they’re contemplating when they’re in that nothing box is just the visual of what’s in front of them at that moment, be it a fishing rod or a naked lady. It really wasn’t about you or anything you did or anything you think you lack. He’s just a man who wasn’t thinking.

  2. Mary on September 27, 2017 at 8:37 am

    I feel if you approach her she will see no wrong in what she is has done. Ultimately it is your partner who was supposed to be the partner. It takes two to tangle. I was a similar situation. My husband was sexting and e-mailing a former co-worker. I approached her by texting her and she said it was my fault and that I should’ve kept an eye on my husband and that is why they are sexting at 1am in the morning while I was sleeping in my bed a few feet away. She went to a hockey game with her son and we were there also. She was having some walking issues. I got up and took her son and my son to the snack stand. I even had my husband offer to take her to the car! I didn’t find out until sometime after the hockey game that they were sexting and e-mailing for some time! I felt like somebody took the wind out of my stomach. I’m trying to go on. It has been 25 years with my husband. We have a 12 year old. I don’t have the means to just leave. I’ve been working hard these past years, that is why I was sleeping in my bed at 1am. Can I let it go? No, I can’t. It is always in the back part of your mind. Does that feeling of trust come back? I wonder, it has been two years for me. Just like you, I don’t know if I made the right decision to stay. I don’t know if the shoe will fall off. However her response of me having to be responsible showed me that she really has issues and no compassion for other women. I even thought, how many other men is she talking to at 1am in the morning – she really didn’t think it was an issue!

  3. No regrets on September 29, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    After reading all of your accounts of this devastating situation, I urge you to pursue help from Al-Anon. Your husband admitted to a drinking problem. This, in and of itself, can be the basis for his affair and other issues. I, too, have been through what you have been through. This will not be simple nor will it be easy, but, if you follow through with Al-Anon and a good counselor, you will find how you fit into this piece, and you may even find the “gift” in this problem. After almost 50 years with my husband who recently passed, I can assure you, this will work for you…even if it doesn’t work for him. Gratefully, AA and Al-Anon worked for both of us. May you find your path and your peace.

  4. Jodie Utter on September 30, 2017 at 10:57 am

    I felt weak for wanting to stay as well, and I didn’t want to feel weak on top of everything else I was feeling about being betrayed. My husband’s affair was public and so I spoke about it with close friends. In sharing my state of mind with them, they responded by stating that I wasn’t weak, that in fact staying and being willing to try and work through it was a show of huge strength and nothing less. Giving up, in so many ways would be so much easier than staying. Staying requires strength. I agreed with their assessment instantly and totally and weakness has never occurred to me since and it shouldn’t for you either. We can see your strength for you, and it’s big, bigger than your pain. The pain will lessen, infinitesimally, but it will. And your strength will increase, also infinitesimally, but it will.

  5. Cass on October 3, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    What Jodie said. It takes a lot of strength to forgive someone that has wronged you. It’s not a weakness to stay and work on it.

  6. Dennis Rene on October 13, 2017 at 2:14 am

    If you truly wish to be sure of your spouse sincerity, you can spy on him/her without needing to touch his/her device, its advisable sometimes to be sure of his/her true sincerity. i was able to have full access to my ex device with the help of a programmer. he was able to retrieve all past deleted files/chats , he cloned her device for me. it hurts deep to see the one you love hide alot from you, i feel great knowing the truth and way before i drowned. You can contact “”ihackcyber(@)(programmer)(.)(net) “””for help incase you need assistance.Hes really good and was the one who helped me. His services really affordable and he also gave me a manual guide for everything i needed to do for a location tracking device.

  7. Josie on November 6, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    This will cause a lot of backlash I’m sure, but I think you should have a fling of your own. A fling will give you confidence and a feeling of being wanted and desired. You will feel renewed and rejuvenated and it will help your marriage — seriously. I truly don’t think it’s possible for two people to remain completely faithful and monogamous in a marriage, it’s unrealistic.
    As for having access to his device at anytime, how is that a way to live? Do you seriously want to live in doubt for the rest of your life? Not trusting him and keeping taps on his every move is never going to make you happy.

  8. shirley on December 20, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Thank you for writing about your husband affair, funny how our lives changed for ever just days apart. My husband also works with his lover, she is also from Canada and we live in the USA so they don’t see each other very often but they had a daily texting and so on affair. She was alway at ever family time we had or fun thing we did as a couple. He was always on his phone I also wonder if it was really work. So glad to hear you are finding Christmas time hard also, I thought it was just me obsessing about her and him. We are doing better and he will be retiring the first of Jan so there reason for contact with her will be gone but I still worry. How things are different between us he is 63 I’m 62 and she is 47. We celebrated our 40 wedding anniversary this past September. I’m retired so finding work that pays so I could live on my own if I decided to so I can’t do this anymore is not really realistic. Things would be a lot harder for both of us of us financially. If this affair would of happened 10 or so years ago I would said I’m out of here, but I have to be realistic. It is much better most day but I to have flashbacks of things I saw and things I have read between the two of them. Good luck with your future we are both strong women and can do this, I lost a part of myself first when I became a wife then a mother and the women I had to become because my husband traveled for his job. To be honest I couldn’t of left him 10 years ago I wasn’t the person then that I am today
    yes I can make it on my own if it comes down to that but, just knowing that helps me 100%. So on I go making the best of the Christmas time with our two adult children and our two beautiful granddaughter.

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